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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—US seeks Syria backup, China’s next corruption target, the morality of private school

By Quartz Staff

What to watch for today

Will US resolve on Syria waver? After Britain’s parliament voted not to take part in a strike on Syria, US president Barack Obama is reportedly open to going it alone, but it would be the first major US campaign in at least 25 years without UK support. France is also sounding more cautious. US officials are confident the Syrian military launched last week’s chemical-weapons attack on civilians but can’t be sure the order came from president Bashar al-Assad.

India’s continuing slowdown. Expect GDP growth to be just 4.6% in the April-June quarter—the third consecutive period below 5% and the slowest pace since 2009. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will make a statement in parliament on the state of the economy and what the government is doing to arrest the fall of the rupee.

US diplomat on a North Korean rescue mission. Robert King, special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, arrives in Pyongyang to make an appeal for the release of American Kenneth Bae, who is serving a 15-month hard-labor sentence. Bae was hospitalized last month after losing more than 50 pounds.

A race to complete the Verizon-Vodafone deal. Verizon’s offer to buy out Vodafone’s 45% stake in a joint venture could reportedly be finalized within the next week (paywall) to lock in a loan before the US Federal Reserve tightens sends interest rates higher. Vodafone could land a £24 billion ($38 billion) windfall thanks to a bizarre tax loophole.

Britain’s good news. Consumer credit and mortgage approvals for July are likely to increase, which would add to evidence of a recovery. The euro zone is reporting inflation, consumer confidence and unemployment data, and Brazilian GDP and US consumer spending and confidence figures are also due.

While you were sleeping

China is going after a party bigwig for corruption. Former security chief and oil industry veteran Zhou Yongkang is reportedly being investigated for corruption—the first time since China’s Cultural Revolution that a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee has been targeted. Zhou is a former ally of Bo Xilai, the disgraced politician whose high-profile trial concluded this week.

The Pentagon’s own corruption investigation. US investigators are looking into whether contractors for the repair and procurement of Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters were chosen because of their connections with members of the US Army aviation office.

Edward Snowden electronically impersonated NSA officials to steal classified documents by using his access as a systems administrator. “Every day, they are learning how brilliant [Snowden] was,” a former U.S. official with knowledge of the case told NBC News. “This is why you don’t hire brilliant people for jobs like this.”

Japanese inflation picked up. Consumer price inflation rose 0.7% in July, but still has a long way to go to the government’s 2% target. Industrial production rose 3.2% from June, a little less than than expected.

Sinopec goes to Egypt. Undeterred by political instability, China’s Sinopec has agreed to buy a 33% stake in Egyptian oil and gas firrm Apache Corp for $3.1 billion—Sinopec’s third-largest acquisition ever.

Carlos Slim’s bid for KPN hit a wall. The Mexican billionaire’s America Movil bid 7.2 billion euros ($9.54) for the 70% of the Dutch telecoms company that it did not already own, but was effectively blocked (paywall) when an independent foundation charged with the protection of KPN exercised a right to issue new preferential shares, giving it a near-50% stake.

The Nasdaq said last week’s freeze-up was partly its fault. The exchange operator said that connection problems between Arca, an all-electronic exchange owned by rival NYSE, and Nasdaq’s systems led to a data overload that brought trading to a halt for three hours on Aug. 22.

Quartz obsession interlude

Simone Foxman on why the real plan for Google Glass may be to sell it to businesses, not consumers. “Though Google has been promoting the device with heart-warming videos on rollercoaster rides and in children’s playgrounds, for the next few years at least, its main customers will be large businesses. Members of the Glass operations team have been on the road showing it off to companies and organizations, and they told Quartz that some of the most enthusiastic responses have come from manufacturers, teachers, medical companies, and hospitals. That suggests that they may be trying to persuade firms to buy the device and develop applications for it.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Employee stock options are on the verge of extinction. Restricted shares, which give workers the full value of a company’s stock at a future date, are emerging as new favorite.

Don’t count on China to bail out its banks. The country’s often-cited stash of foreign currency reserves isn’t as useful as you might think.

How to save your start-up when no-one will give you funding. Focus on the most distinctive parts of the business, be honest with team-mates and hang on to hope.

Sending your kid to private school makes you a bad person. If more rich parents choose public schools, their quality will only improve.

Surprising discoveries

Financial stress can lop off 13 IQ points. Worrying about paying the bills is a preoccupation that monopolizes thinking.

Déjà vu all over again. Here are three scientific explanations; don’t be surprised if feel like you’ve already read them.

Genetic tweaks make mice live longer. Suppressing a single gene increased their lifespans by 20%; the research could help fight diseases like Alzheimer’s.

An illegal international pipeline for vodka. Border guards discovered a tube crossing the Kyrgyzstan-Kazakhstan border that may have carried thousands of liters of liquor.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, and preferred vodka smuggling methods to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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