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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Chinese smog, Greek bargains, Japanese trade, Gates’ vegan meat investment

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for

The US shutdown enters week two. John Boehner and conservative Republicans are digging in their heels and demanding concessions over Obama’s signature healthcare plan—not just to end the shutdown, but to raise the debt ceiling.

21 world leaders meet in Indonesia. Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation member countries will meet in Bali to discuss how to juice growth in a down economy. US president Barack Obama won’t make it thanks to the shutdown.

Japan’s August trade balance. In a sign of improvement, the country’s surplus is expected to have doubled to $6.5 billion due to a smaller trade deficit and increased investment income.

Tech bidders want a piece of BlackBerry pie. The company’s board is considering alternatives to taking the company private, with Google, SAP and Cisco among the interested buyers, reports Reuters.

The Supreme Court returns. The justices are set to tackle hot button issues like affirmative action, campaign finance, government-sanctioned prayer, and abortion clinic protests.

While you were sleeping

Japan Airlines and Airbus neared a major deal. Reuters reported that it would break Boeing’s long-running dominance over the Japanese market.

World Bank slashed its Asia forecasts. The development bank expects growth in China and developing countries in East Asia to increase 7.1% this year and 7.2% in 2014, versus 7.8% and 7.6%, citing China’s slowdown and lower commodity prices.

China smog spikes, typhoon strikes. Air pollution reached hazardous levels in Beijing, forcing flight cancellations and expressway closures just as millions of Chinese try to return home after a week-long holiday. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated as Typhoon Fitow hit China’s east coast.

The US captured a long-time al Qaeda suspect. Abu Anas al-Libi, wanted for the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Africa, was apprehended this weekend in Libya. He is being interrogated on a Navy ship in the Mediterranean.

Demonstrations in Egypt turned violent. Supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi clashed with security forces on the 40-year anniversary of the country’s last war with Israel, leaving at least 50 dead.

Investors are bargain hunting in Greece. US hedge fund manager John Paulson and a crew of other US hedge funds are investing in a number of Greek banks that shaped up after the country’s crippling crisis.

More women are on UK boards. The number of women directors on the largest British companies’ corporate boards is up to 19% from 12.5% in 2011.

Quartz obsession interlude

John McDuling on the $1.2 billion New York start-up you’ve probably never heard. “Selling databases is by no means a sexy business, which is why you may not have heard of MongoDB. But databases are the lifeblood of corporate IT departments. MongoDB, whose name is derived from the word ‘humongous,’ has been quietly chipping away at database king Oracle’s stranglehold on the sector with an open-source version of its technology.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

“Gravity” is a fine movie. But its script kowtows to Chinese ticket buyers.

The US should merge with its northern neighbor. The US and Canada should become one to fend off an economic takeover by China and Russia.

Robots have nothing on humans.  Even the most cutting-edge robotic contraptions are a far cry from the dominating intelligent machines that inspire needless technophobia.

Poor people have a skill money can’t buy. They’re better than rich people at empathizing.

Surprising discoveries

Klan rally cancelled by the government shut down. The Ku Klux Klan scheduled an event at a Civil War battlefield on Saturday, but the park was closed.

Gates wants in on fake meat. The Microsoft chairman invests in a “vegan meat” company.

The sun used to be a lot cooler. It wasn’t even warm enough for life when life began.

Working through lunch is good for you. Socializing with coworkers at lunchtime can lead to higher levels of fatigue.

Google wants to handle your dinner bill. The company filed for a patent on a product that will help patrons split the check at restaurants.

Soccer is more than a sport; it’s architecture. A Spanish architect designed a luxurious soccer-ball house in homage to soccer superstar Lionel Messi.

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