Quartz Daily Brief—Europe Edition—Fiji’s storm, Sprint’s spectrum deal, Chinese emigration, armed fish

December 18, 2012
December 18, 2012

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Fijians count the cost of their biggest ever storm. Cyclone Evan, a South Pacific storm rated at the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane in the northern hemisphere (Hurricane Sandy was only a Category 1 when it made landfall on the US East Coast in October), tore through the island nation after devastating Samoa last week. The extent of the damage won’t start to be apparent until later today. 

Cyprus scrambles to avoid a default. The island’s small economy may not cause the euro zone to tremble, and the €250-€300 million it needs within the next few days to complete a loan payment is peanuts compared with the billions that Greece had to negotiate. But Cyprus does enjoy the dubious distinction of having the fastest-growing debt to GDP ratio in the European Union.

UBS’s Libor embarrassment grows. In advance of an expected announcement on Wednesday, more details may trickle out about the deal that the Swiss-based bank will reach with British, Swiss and American regulators to settle charges of interest-rate manipulation. The latest: Some three dozen people are implicated, some of whom may face arrest.

While you were sleeping

A fiscal cliff deal drew near. So say reports, at any rate, after President Barack Obama held another meeting with the head of the House Republicans, John Boehner. Both sides are making concessions, so there will be a mix of tax rises and spending cuts.

Mexico changes tack in drugs war. New president Enrique Peña Nieto and his senior officials declared the previous government’s policies a failure and indicated the government will move away from a focus on capturing drug lords and shut the Public Security Ministry, instead building up a rural gendarmerie of around 10,000 people.

America mourned and debated. Following the killing of 20 children at a school in Connecticut last week, a growing number of Democratic leaders have been calling for tighter gun controls such as a ban on assault weapons, while funerals were held for some of the victims.

Sprint got a lock on the future of mobile high speed data. Sprint is about to get a deal on wireless spectrum—the electromagnetic real estate telecommunications companies need to broadcast and receive signals—by acquiring Clearwire, for $2.2 billion.

Morgan Stanley was slapped with a $5 million fine over Facebook. The state of Massachusetts has fined the bank that underwrote Facebook’s IPO. Morgan Stanley is accused of giving information to research analysts but not investors about the deal.

Quartz obsession interlude

Quartz’s favorite charts of 2012. We are known for being a bit obsessed with charts, so we asked members of our editorial staff to submit their favorite charts produced in 2012, from the world’s shifting center of gravity to a complete history of US debt. Read more here.

Matters of debate

China may not rate a “buy” again soon. More wealthy Chinese are expected to leave the country with their money and their families, partly in pursuit of safer places to invest, according to Chinese researchers. They calculated that more than 150,000 Chinese gained permanent residency in 2011 in countries like the US, Canada and Australia.

Has America had enough gun violence? Comparisons of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut have been made to a similar massacre in Scotland and Australia in 1996. Both countries took measures to crack down on gun ownership and have not seen any repeat of the tragedies since. After a shooting spree in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado earlier this summer, discussion of gun restriction came and went. Will this time be any different?

What could be educational about the internet?  Cambodia is moving forward with rules that ban internet cafés operating in the capital within 500 meters of a school, citing dangers including pornography, video game addiction and terrorism. The ban would effectively drive all internet cafés out of Phnom Penh.

So long China, hello India. Despite the slowdown in China’s economy, many economists are confident that it will reign supreme. However, there’s an argument to be made that India’s younger population, successful multinationals like Tata Group, and a large population of English speakers position the country to become the next global growth engine.

Should the US try to have as many millionaires as Singapore? As in, 17% of the population and growing fast?

A new sort of cloud. Computers and servers are becoming irrelevant as companies now require their own data centers. Who are the losers in this equation? IBM, HP and Dell, who used to dominate the server market as recently as 2008.  

Surprising discoveries

Danes are more likely to be armed than Pakistanis… or so the numbers say. That’s according to surveys of global gun ownership, but these don’t reflect things like reporting problems in developing countries or traits that would make gun ownership appear higher in other places, writes Quartz’s Steve Levine.

Iran’s Supreme Leader would like to be your friend. Despite the country’s ban on the social media site since 2009, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has joined Facebook. His profile, khamenei.ir, is run by the Iranian government.

Still or with gas? Bottled water as a proportion of non-alcoholic beverage sales in Indonesia rose from 1% in 2009, to 8% in 2010 and on to a very wet 20% last year.

Fish take up arms. Researchers in Spain found that zebrafish injected with a mouse gene grew “arms” where their fins would normally be, which they are holding up as evidence to support the theory that land animals evolved from sea creatures. The armed fish did not survive.

A Christian sect believes a peasant woman from China’s Hunan province is the second coming of Christ. Religious leaders in Hong Kong are warning that the “evil cult,” now banned on the mainland, could be infiltrating mainstream Christian churches.

Twenty astounding gun ads. We particularly love the one involving the pink cowboy hat.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, accurate gun statistics, and residency offers to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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