Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—US solo on Syria, GE’s credit card spin-off, inflation in Japan and under the pillow

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What to watch for today

Will US go it alone? After Britain’s parliament voted down military action against Syria, US president Barack Obama is reportedly prepared to proceed with limited strikes. 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 played down the dangers of the falling rupee and outlining economic plans for the near future.

A North Korean rescue mission. Robert King, special US 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-year 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 their US wireless 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. Meanwhile AT&T is reportedly looking to acquire what remains of Vodafone after the buyout

While you were sleeping

European economic data. House prices in the UK rose 0.6% in August and mortgage lending hit a five-year high. Germany’s retailers sold less for the second month running in July, with sales down 1.4% after adjustments. Unemployment in Italy dipped slightly to 12%, but youth joblessness rose again. More data are expected throughout the day, including euro zone inflation, consumer confidence and unemployment, along with Brazilian GDP and US consumer spending.

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

GE is swearing off credit cards. The conglomerate is looking to shed the unit that issues store credit cards to 55 million Americans, which earned $2.2 billion last year. GE is keen to reduce exposure to consumer lending and focus on its industrial businesses (paywall), according to the Wall Street Journal.

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

China is preparing to unravel cotton stockpiles. The country’s top economic planning authority is considering scrapping a two-year cotton subsidy which has led to massive stockpiles that account for roughly 60% of world supplies.

Japan’s defense force asked for more money. It said it would seek a 3% rise in next year’s budget allocation—the biggest jump in 22 years—to compensate for higher costs due to the weakness of the Japanese yen. However, the move may not be seen that way by other regional powers like China.

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

Cut Manmohan Singh a break. Despite current economic woes, the Indian prime minster has radically improved the way that people think about development.

It’s time to trust strangers. Crime is down, and services that depend on goodwill are on the rise.

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. 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, they will get better.

Surprising discoveries

The tooth fairy is getting a bit carried away. US children now get an average of $3.70 under their pillows every time they lose a tooth.

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.

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.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, and baby tooth hedging strategies to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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