Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Vodafone-Verizon deal, China’s recovery, Morsi’s trial, violence and climate change

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What to watch for today

A $130 billion telecom deal gets good reception. The boards of Vodafone and Verizon reportedly plan to announce a deal for the UK company’s 45% stake in Verizon Wireless, their joint venture, after the London stock markets close.

The Gulf states discuss Syria. A meeting of the Gulf Co-operation Council will convene in Riyadh to discuss impending action on Syria by the US, in advance of a meeting of the Arab League.

Lukewarm news on US Labor Day. Markets are closed in honor of American workers, even as data shows that young people are not joining unions anymore and that, despite productivity gains, wages are falling.

A way out for China Minzhong Food? The Singapore-listed Chinese company, which saw its stock drop 48% after a short-seller report claimed it was fabricating data, could be bought out by its largest shareholder, PT Indofood Sukses Makmur.

Italian investors have half a second to change their mind. Order changes and cancellations that take longer than half a second will face a 0.02% tax (paywall). Market participants warn the new levy will hurt liquidity in the Italian market.

Over the weekend

Barack Obama reversed course on Syria. The US president put the brakes on what had seemed an inevitable move towards intervention in Syria, by seeking Congress’s approval for military force. This effectively puts any strike on hold at least until Sept. 9. Meanwhile, laboratory tests indicate sarin nerve gas was used in an Aug. 21 attack that killed more than 1,400 people, and a US aircraft carrier was rerouted to the Red Sea to support a strike in Syria if necessary.

Egypt referred Mohamed Morsi to trial. The country’s military-dominated authorities charged the former president with “committing acts of violence, and inciting killing and thuggery,” referring to violence in the country last December. Meanwhile, a new constituent assembly was named and given the task of reviewing legal amendments designed to erase recent changes made by the Muslim Brotherhood.

China stepped up anti-corruption efforts. The Communist Party launched a corruption investigation into Jiang Jiemen, the head of the commission that regulates state-owned companies. Jiang, who was the head of China National Petroleum Corporation until March, is the highest-level figure to date to face such a probe since Xi Jinping took over last year.

Merkel locked horns with Steinbrueck. The two contenders for Germany’s September 22 general election were quizzed by a panel of journalists in the campaign’s only live television debate, watched by around 20 million people. Incumbent chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition leads Peer Steinbrueck’s Social Democrats by around 15 points, but needs to maintain a coalition to hold on to power.

Ikea can’t build out. New CEO Peter Agnefjall told the Financial Times (paywall) that the furniture maker would open only five stores this year and focus on investing more in existing outlets, a turnaround from outgoing chief executive Mikael Ohlsson’s pledge to open 20 to 25 stores a year.

Radiation levels spiked at Fukushima. Radiation levels around the nuclear plant crippled by the 2011 tsunami have risen 18-fold and are now lethal to humans after four hours of exposure. The government has taken a more direct role in the cleanup and investors are questioning the future of Tokyo Electric Power, the plant’s operator.

Nelson Mandela was discharged from hospital. The former South African president’s condition remains critical, and he will continue to receive intensive care at his home.

A record deal in soccer. Gareth Bale, a former Spurs player, was bought by Real Madrid on a six-year contract for a record 100 million euros ($132 million). The 24-year-old will receive around $465,000 per week to play for the team and will be presented to fans on Monday.

Quartz obsession interlude

Mark Armstrong on how so-called discounts trick shoppers into buying things. The reality is that “duty-free shopping can be more expensive than high-street shopping, that some bargains advertised on daily deal websites (such as Groupon) are no bargain at all, that ‘buy-one, get-one-free’ deals merely involve re-packaging into smaller containers, or that a supermarket’s heavily advertised 15% price cut was preceded by an (unadvertised) gradual 20% price rise…Since consumers are often more inclined to buy a product with a ‘half price’ sticker on than they would be without the sticker, an unscrupulous retailer has an incentive to claim a product is ‘half price’ from the start.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Writers may bemoan cliches, but for a cartoonist there’s little better. Here are a few killer captions from the New Yorker.

Screaming, “crazy” One Direction fans aren’t really mad. They are often presented in a sexist, derogatory manner, but they  deserve a second look.

Barack Obama’s Syrian gamble is risky. The US president is putting his credibility in the hands of two unpredictable powers: The Assad regime in Syria and the Republican party in the US congress (paywall).

Emerging markets are turbulent, but will land just fine. Once the Federal Reserve-inspired sell-off subsides, investors will come back.

Indian women won’t be safe until there’s law and order. Protests, sex education, and behavioral conditioning will not succeed unless the streets are well-policed and the courts are efficient.

Surprising discoveries

British men are getting taller. Their average height has increased by 11 centimeters since the mid-19th century, to 177.37cm (5ft 10in).

Climate change will make us more violent. A meta-analysis of 60 studies has found that warmer temperatures and increased rainfall significantly boost group conflicts.

Inside America’s cyber warfare. US spy agencies carried out 231 attacks in 2011 to infiltrate and disrupt foreign computer networks.

Greenland’s own Grand Canyon. Scientists have discovered a 750-kilometer (467-mile) long canyon beneath the ice sheet in northern Greenland.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, One Direction fan club applications and evidence of brand new landmarks to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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