Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Iran talks, EU banking union, Sony and Netflix, freeze-dried corpses

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What to watch for today

At least part of Congress reaches a compromise. Senators from both parties are close to a deal to re-open the US government until January 15 and raise the debt limit until February, creating time to conclude negotiations on budget policy for the rest of the year. But even if passed by the Senate, such a proposal could still founder in the House. And the debt ceiling is only two full days away. 

Iran starts negotiating on nukes. Iran begins talks with six major powers over its nuclear program in Geneva. President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate, wants to get rid of international sanctions on his country, but he may have limited room to make concessions. Back home, conservatives are protesting against détente with the West.

Switzerland gets serious about tax evasion. The world’s biggest offshore financial center says it will sign an international convention (paywall) on fighting tax evasion. The agreement requires its signatories to cooperate with requests for information and help with auditing taxes.

An EU banking union starts to form. The 28 nations of the EU may discuss the final adoption of a law that gives the European Central Bank new supervisory powers believed by some to help boost the euro bloc’s financial system.

Yahoo reports earnings. Among a slew of other companies, the search and social-media company’s results will be closely watched for signs of whether CEO Marissa Mayer is turning things around after five quarters in the job.

While you were sleeping

Brazil girded itself against British and American spies. Brazil announced plans to create a secure email service that would “prevent possible espionage,” according to president Dilma Rousseff.  The Brazilian system would interact with encrypted services and shut out surveillance by the US and UK.

The Nobel prize in economics celebrated the ineffable mystery of financial markets. Eugene Fama, whose research showed why financial markets are efficient, and Robert Shiller, who showed the opposite, both won the prize. A third winner was Lars Peter Hansen, whose econometric innovations help us better measure asset prices.

An al-Qaeda suspect arrived in New York. Anas al-Libi, the al-Qaeda suspect detained in a US raid in Libya earlier this month, has been moved to New York where he awaits trial. The US says he is the architect behind US embassy bombings in Africa in 1998.

General Motors started saving $40 million a year. Or hopes to. The automaker opened a “metal stamping plant” (paywall) near its assembly factory in Texas that means it won’t have to ship pounded-out hoods, fenders and doors for its SUVs from Ohio and Michigan to its Texas plant.

Sony and Netflix got together. Sony Pictures Television will produce a psychological thriller for Netflix, making it the first major Hollywood studio to help make a TV show for the company as it tries to get into original programming.

Riots in Russia. Russian police detained over 1,600 migrants after rioting spread through a southern neighborhood in Moscow over the weekend. The riots started over the stabbing of an ethnic Russian man.

Quartz obsession interlude

Leo Mirani on how the future is “small data”—and Facebook just bought it. ”This morning, Onavo, an Israeli start-up, announced it was being acquired by Facebook. Onavo’s flagship product is a data compressor. When you browse a web page or use an app on your phone, Onavo routes the traffic through its servers, where it compresses and optimizes the data before sending it on to the phone…. As more big Silicon Valley firms look to the developing world, expect to see many more efforts to make data smaller and access easier.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The Nobel Prize in economics is better than the Nobel Peace Prize. Winners of the economics award have contributed to our understanding of a wide range of things; many winners of the peace prize have been let-downs. 

Jack Dorsey is the good guy. Following an unflattering portrayal in an upcoming book, a profile in the New Yorker paints Twitter co-founder Dorsey in a more generous light.

Chinese foreign aid won’t replace the West’s. Developing countries see it as a complement, not a replacement.

French speed traps are money traps. French residents say radar detectors aren’t a way to save lives but just for the government to rake in more revenue.

Surprising discoveries

People use their mobile devices most around dinnertime. Video, game, and social media app use peak in the evening; news apps see their biggest spike around 7 am.

A 46-million-year-old blood sample. It was found in the belly of a fossilized mosquito—not quite old enough to recreate a dinosaur Jurassic-Park-style, but still a first.

Could your body be freeze-dried and composted? A Swedish firm promises a greener alternative to cremation—but it’s not clear if it works.

Americans are consuming 350 slices of pizza a second. It’s national pizza month in the US, where 93% of Americans eat one pizza or more a month.

The most unfortunate bit of corporate branding ever? Fukushima Industries has a new egg-shaped, winged mascot called Fukuppy.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, fossilized mosquitos, and terrible branding ideas to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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