Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Iran talks, the UK woos China’s banks, Philippines quake, 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. Even if passed by the Senate, such a proposal could still flounder in the House, and the debt ceiling is only two full days away.

Iran starts nuclear negotiations. 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 talks with the West.

The UK woos Chinese banks. In a bid to make London a major Chinese offshore banking destination, Chancellor George Osborne will offer special terms to the country’s state-owned banks, the Financial Times reports.

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

An EU banking union gathers steam. The 28 nations may discuss the final adoption of a law that gives the European Central Bank new supervisory powers, boosting the bloc’s financial system.

While you were sleeping

The NSA harvests millions of email contact lists. The previously undisclosed program gathers users’ address books and instant messaging “buddy lists,” allowing the agency to collect a massive number of accounts, the Washington Post reports.

Blackberry aims to reassure customers. The troubled smartphone company is publishing an open letter to customers in international publications saying that despite its recent challenges, “you can continue to count on BlackBerry.”

An earthquake hit the Philippines. At least four people were killed after the 7.2 magnitude quake struck the central part of the country, near the tourist resort of Cebu.

Ben Bernanke praised Mexico’s monetary policy. The Federal Reserve chairman said the country’s central bank has done well to curb inflation; Bernanke made no reference to the U.S. economy.

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

Sony and Netflix struck a deal. Sony Pictures Television will be the first major Hollywood studio to produce a new TV show, a psychological thriller, for the streaming-video company.

Riots in Russia. Police detained more than 1,600 migrants in Moscow after rioting over the stabbing of a Russian; many said a man from the country’s Caucasus region was to blame.

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

Using the “Yellen Effect” to lure women to economics. Yellen’s rise can show undergraduates that economics isn’t just for men.

The Nobel Prize in economics is better than the Nobel Peace Prize. Economics winners have contributed to our understanding of a wide range of issues; 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 New Yorker profile paints a portrait of the Twitter founder as a public transport-loving, fern-drawing “techno aesthete.”

French speed traps are money traps. French residents say radar detectors are merely a way for the government to rake in more revenue.

Surprising discoveries

Brain waves can be used to test prices, a German scientist’s experiment shows.

People use their mobile devices most around dinnertime. Video, game, and social media app use peaks 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.

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 mosquitoes, and branding mistakes  to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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