Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—India’s surprise rate hike, US debt vote, Hong Kong typhoon, Oktoberfest economics

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What to watch for today

The first punches will be thrown in the debt-ceiling brawl. The House of Representatives will vote on a stopgap funding bill, meant to avert a government shutdown on Oct. 1, that defunds president Barack Obama’s signature health-care law. The Senate is almost certain to block the measure, and the White House has promised to veto it.

Obama’s new greenhouse gas regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency will announce the first carbon limits on US gas and coal-fired power plants.

The new iPhone goes on sale. Customers lined up first in Australia for the iPhone 5s and 5c, followed by Japan, China, and Singapore. This is the first time Apple has simultaneously released its new iPhone in China.

Typhoon Usagi bears down on Hong Kong. The strongest storm of the year, with winds of up to 160 miles per hour, is on track to make landfall on Sunday. As it approaches, officials in Taiwan have issued alerts, and The Philippines evacuated some coastal villages.

Bo Xilai’s verdict is due on Sunday. The former high-flying Chinese politician is charged with corruption, embezzlement, and abuse of power, and is expected to be sentenced to at least 20 years in prison. In a defiant letter to his family, Bo proclaimed his innocence and vowed that “the truth will come out one day.”

While you were sleeping

India’s new central banker unexpectedly raised interest rates. Raghuram Rajan lifted the repurchase rate by a quarter point to rein in inflation; analysts had unanimously predicted that it wouldn’t change.

Syria says the war has reached a stalemate. President Bashar al-Assad’s government will call for a ceasefire with the opposition at upcoming talks in Geneva. Separately, two rebel groups, including one allied with Al Qaeda, agreed to stop fighting each other.

Japan’s government is planning over $14 billion in corporate tax breaks to counter a sales tax hike designed to pay for welfare spending, the Nikkei newspaper reported (paywall).

The EU and Singapore wrapped up a comprehensive free trade agreement. The 28 European states hope the pact could lead to a deal with ten more Southeast Asian countries in the coming years.

The AllThingsD founders are parting ways with News Corp. Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg are rebooting their technology news and events business as part of a new venture that could be valued at up to $40 million, according to sources.

The Mars probe came up empty. NASA’s Curiosity rover has found no signs of methane—a strong indicator of life—despite previous evidence of the gas. In other NASA news, Brazilian hackers targeted the space agency after confusing it with the NSA spy agency.

Quartz obsession interlude

Roberto A. Ferdman on the bizarre, rule-defying economics of beer at Munich’s Oktoberfest. “Dating all the way back to 1980, a 1% increase in beer prices at the event has, rather incredibly, corresponded with a 0.3% increase in demand. Oktoberfest beer, the report explains, falls into the category of what economists call a Giffen paradox, whereby the demand for and price of a good increase simultaneously.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The Federal Reserve is the greatest hedge fund in history. Warren Buffett admiringly notes that the Fed is generating “$80 billion or $90 billion a year.”

US diplomacy is alive in the Middle East. Talks with Iran and Syria, America’s biggest adversaries in the Middle East, are each fraught with opportunity and danger.

Stop thinking of Apple and Google as competitors. They’re actually locked in a symbiotic embrace from which neither can escape.

“My daughter’s homework is killing me.” Four hours a day for thirteen-year-olds is too much.

Surprising discoveries

Save the planet with fracking? The same wells that are drilled for natural gas could be used to sequester excess carbon dioxide.

The Romans were nanotechnology pioneers. 1,600 years ago, they impregnated a jade-green glass with silver and gold particles to make it appear red when lit from behind.

Soldiers can fall in love with their robots. A study finds they get emotionally attached to bomb-disposal robots and occasionally even hold funerals for them.

Giving up $6.3 million for a clear conscience. A Spanish man who found a winning lottery ticket turned it in saying he wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if he claimed the prize.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, ancient nanotech, and Oktoberfest economics anomalies to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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