Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Merkel victorious, Kenya’s terror siege, Usagi Vs. China, audacious oil thieves

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What to watch for today

Angela Merkel wins third term as German chancellor. Exit polls showed that Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union won 42% of the votes in Sunday’s election. But as her coalition partner, the Free Democratic Party, may not win enough votes to gain representation in parliament, Merkel could form a “grand coalition” with her closest rival, the left-leaning Social Democratic Party, to form the government.

Kenyan shopping mall siege continues. Security forces are still battling al-Qaeda linked Somali militant group, al-Shabaab, whose fighters stormed an upscale Nairobi mall on Saturday. At least 68 people have been killed and 175 injured, while around 30 people are reportedly being held hostage.

Diplomatic wrangling at the UN. This year’s United Nations General Assembly meetings will be dominated by developments in the Middle East: A diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis, thawing of US-Iran relations, and the US-brokered peace talks between Israel and Palestine.

Recovery signposts. The Flash Purchasing Managers Indexes for China, the euro zone and the US are expected to show an uptick in both the manufacturing and service sectors.

Microsoft plays catch up.  The company will unveil its next generation Surface tablets aimed at challenging Apple’s dominance in the tablet market. The response to Microsoft’s tablets has so far been underwhelming, forcing the company to take a $900 million inventory loss in its most recent earnings report.

Over the weekend

Typhoon Usagi, downgraded to a tropical storm, lashed China. After causing flooding and throwing flight schedules into disarray in Hong Kong, Usagi made landfall in Southern China on Sunday evening. The storm is weakening rapidly, but it will pass through Guangdong, the most populous province in China with 105 million people.

China makes a point with Bo Xilai’s sentence. The former Communist Party Politburo member was sentenced to life in prison for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power, ending China’s most politically charged trial in decades. Bo has pledged to clear his name and return to politics.

Was the Fed’s no-taper decision leaked? Nanex LLC, a Chicago-based research firm that monitors trading activity, says large orders for gold ETFs and gold futures—placed at the exact millisecond the news was officially made public—represented “overwhelming” evidence of a leak.

Greece sits down with creditors… again. Representatives from the troika are reviewing austerity measures, to decide if Athens should get its next installment of cash. Unions have  planned strikes on Tuesday and Wednesday, as public sector workers in Greece face further cuts.

Russia offers to send observers to Syria. Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia could send military personnel to help destroy the Assad regime’s chemical weapons. Lavrov added the US was threatening to sink the disarmament process unless Russia supported a UN resolution. That resolution would authorize the use of force against Syria if the Assad government doesn’t comply with any eventual agreement on destroying its weapons.

LinkedIn sued for hacking email address books. Four customers accused the professional networking site of accessing their e-mail accounts without permission, downloading contacts’ addresses, and spamming those people with invitations to join the service.

Quartz obsession interlude

Steve Levine on why even the Chinese government can’t command progress on electric cars. “On Sept. 17, Beijing renewed subsidies for electric cars, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles. They are substantial—a buyer of an electric car receives a direct payment of $9,800. (The payment is $5,700 for a plug-in hybrid and up to a whopping $81,000 on the purchase of a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle.) But analysts doubt the renewed subsidies will finally trigger a buying binge; the cars will still cost more than pure gasoline-fueled vehicles, and will cover less ground and lack the convenience of quick refueling. In short: Despite the new subsidies, China still faces an uphill battle to get motorists to embrace electrics.” Read more here.

Matters of debate 

A world of higher interest rates looms. Emerging economies should heed the Indian central bank’s warning and hike rates to deter investment in unsustainable activities.

What the Middle East should learn from the birthplace of the Arab Spring. Tunisia has its problems, but its rational, systematic approach to its transition should serve as a model for others in the region.

The correct US poverty rate is around and about zero. Certain benefits and aid through the tax system is not counted in the current definition of poverty.

The Bitcoin crackdown is the right move. Regulations will help integrate Bitcoin into the financial system and make virtual currencies more dependable.

Surprising discoveries

How to steal 100,000 barrels of oil a day. Thieves in Nigeria are puncturing pipelines, using taps to ply oil from hoses, and even stealing from export terminals.

Microwaves can double up as power sources. Energy that escapes through the microwave doors can power gadgets like cooking timers and digital scales.

Being a judge is no laughing matter. A judge in New Jersey resigned after being told that he can’t moonlight as a stand-up comic.

UK’s hottest new import: Pets. Imports of dogs were up 63% last year, despite the cost of bringing pets from overseas being roughly the same as a business-class ticket for the same route.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, alternate professions for judges, and pets, to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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