Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Shutdown shenanigans, Shanghai trade zone, Berlusconi’s bravado, sleeping pilots

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What to watch for today

Last-minute attempts to avert a US government shutdown. Which are likely to fail, however, after the Republican-dominated House this weekend rejected a spending bill that would keep the government running after midnight on Monday. Public workers, foreign governments and people with the flu will feel the effects.

Mark Cuban’s insider-trading trial begins. The celebrity American billionaire is facing charges filed five years ago for a trade he made nine years ago, allegedly using insider knowledge to sell off shares in before they fell.

Will South African miners call off their strike? Workers who downed tools last Friday at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) will hold a rally to discuss their protest against proposed job cuts. The stoppage, just three weeks after a gold miners’ strike over pay was resolved, echoes last year’s paralysis of the country’s mining industry.

New York City Opera files for bankruptcy. Not to be confused with the city’s Metropolitan Opera, but still, it’s a 70-year-old company that gave such stars as Placido Domingo their big breaks. There’s a Kickstarter campaign (oh, the ignominy), but it’s not looking promising.

Over the weekend

Shanghai’s free-trade zone opened with a dash of cold water. Prime minister Li Keqiang, a champion of more open economic policies, conspicuously stayed away from the opening ceremony, in a sign the government wants to lower expectations. Here’s our round-up of the knowns and unknowns about how the zone will function.

A consolation prize for the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Power Assets Holdings, a firm controlled by China’s richest man, is reportedly planning to raise up to $5 billion on the Hong Kong bourse, a few days after e-commerce giant Alibaba dinged it by deciding to list in New York instead.

Silvio Berlusconi threw Italy into chaos again. The disgraced former prime minister, who could get kicked out of the senate this coming Friday, has called for fresh elections after ordering the five ministers from his center-right party to quit the government coalition. However, even some of his own party hacks are rebelling.

The UN Security Council reached a deal on Syria. Late on Friday the full 15-member body passed a unanimous resolution on disarming Syria of chemical weapons. Russian objections mean, though, that there are no immediate repercussions for Syria if the regime doesn’t meet the UN’s demands.

Two successes for commercial spaceflight. Orbital Sciences Corporation became only the second commercial firm to send a supply vessel to the International Space Station. The first such firm, SpaceX, meanwhile tested out a new version of its Falcon 9 rocket, whose payload satellite included a prototype of what could become a super-fast digital courier service.

Quartz obsession interlude

Christopher Mims on why digital motion sickness will be the occupational disease of the 21st century. “The better technology gets, the more likely it is to give you a headache or make you throw up. The trend is inescapable: Whether it’s videogames, Apple’s latest mobile operating system, 3D movies and television, or Google Glass, a portion of the population—basically, anyone predisposed to motion sickness—is going to spend their sunset years, when this kind of technology is ubiquitous, in serious discomfort.” Read more here.

Matters for debate

Eleven misconceptions about Obamacare. Bone up for the coming week of acrimony with this handy debunking of some key arguments both for and against the US health-care reform.

Six things that could derail US-Iranian detente. That Obama-Rouhani phone call was nice, but it’s only the beginning of an obstacle-strewn road.

Where Nokia went wrong with its CEO’s golden parachute. The furore over the Finnish firm’s payout to Stephen Elop contains a few object lessons for companies.

How the US airline industry found profitability. Airlines pursued an “edge strategy”—basically, making money off extras.

Surprising discoveries

Men: Cut the risk of prostate cancer by eating tomatoes. That’s the slightly more surprising of some otherwise commonsense findings from a 25-year-long health study.

What all of Facebook’s users look like together. A designer created a single page of made up of 1.2 billion minuscule Facebook profile photos. It looks, well, gray.

More than half of British pilots admit falling asleep in the cockpit. And nearly a third of those said they woke up to find the other pilot asleep, according to a survey. We assume it’s not just Brits.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, tomatoes, and pictures of sleeping pilots to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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