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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Shutdown shenanigans, Shanghai trade zone, Berlusconi’s bravado, sleeping airline pilots

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

Last-minute attempts to avert a US government shutdown, which are likely to fail, after the Republican-dominated House this weekend rejected a spending bill that would keep the government running after midnight on MondayPublic workers, foreign governments and people with the flu will feel the effects. Here’s a guide to debunking of some key arguments both for and against the president’s health care law.

Twitter plans to make its IPO filing public this week. The goal is to begin trading, likely on the New York Stock Exchange, before Thanksgiving.

Mark Cuban’s insider-trading trial begins. The tech billionaire and NBA team owner is facing charges filed five years ago for a trade he made in 2004, 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.

BP’s civil trial begins its second phase. The British oil company faces billion of dollars in fines for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico. At issue: the total amount of oil that was discharged during the 87-day disaster.

Over the weekend

Shanghai’s free-trade zone opened with a splash of cold water. Prime minister Li Keqiang, a champion of more open economic policies, conspicuously stayed away from the opening ceremony, 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. Meanwhile, the first such firm, SpaceX, 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.

Korea’s industrial output grew at its fastest pace in nine months..Strong mobile phone and auto production sent industrial numbers up 1.8% in August from the previous month and 3.3% year-on-year. The data could signal a broader recovery (paywall) in Asia’s fourth largest economy

…While China’s factory sector only grew slightly. The HSBC Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 50.2 this month from 50.1 in August, with an uptick in foreign orders offsetting a soft home market. Still, the data fell short of last week’s flash reading of 51.2.


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

Psychotherapy has an image problem. Therapists need to codify and promote empirically-supported methods.

Rouhani is playing Obama. Iran’s overtures to the United States are only intended to buy time to build nuclear weapons.

Glass floors are worse than glass ceilings. Poor kids climbing the ladder requires rich kids sliding down the chutes.

Making money in the airline industry isn’t about flying. Profitable US airlines pursued an “edge strategy”—basically, making money off extras.

Surprising discoveries

What all of Facebook’s users look like together. A designer created a single page 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.

China has blocked the delivery of 1,600 Belgian racing pigeons in a customs spat. The birds are popular with Chinese enthusiasts; a recent shipment included the world’s most expensive bird—$400,000 Bolt, named after Usain.

How Popeye’s went upscale. The fried chicken chain is transitioning from “Chicken ‘n Biscuits,” to “Louisiana Kitchen.”

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

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