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Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Obamacare’s digital disgrace, Dell’s done deal, child bribery, robots vs. robots

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

A slap on the wrist for Infosys. After a two-year-plus investigation, the US Justice and Homeland Security departments are expected to slap the India-based outsourcing company with a $34 million fine—the biggest of its kind in American history—for improperly using business travel documents to keep foreign employees in the US.

Snoring over Fed speak. No one is holding their breath for a big announcement from the US’s Federal Open Market Committee this month after it declined to start tapering its bond-buying program in September. Since then, the government shutdown and a spate of weaker economic data have quelled hopes that the US economy is on the mend.

Grande earnings from Starbucks. The coffee king, which opened its first tea bar last week, should post a solid profit in its fourth quarter thanks to cheap coffee prices, Asia growth and new baked goods.

All eyes on Facebook. Earnings are expected to be 17% higher this quarter, with 50% revenue growth. Investors will be watching Facebook’s mobile revenue, one area the social network has struggled to monetize, as well as revenue-per-user and daily active user figures.

A gut check on the Roma’s plight. Amnesty International will release a report about how Italy’s housing policies discriminate against Roma, following the high-profile case of Maria, a blonde girl taken by authorities from a Roma couple in Greece suspected of child-snatching.

While you were sleeping

The Dell saga ended, for real. Shares in the computer company were delisted when markets closed yesterday after completion of the $24.9 billion sale to its founder Michael Dell and the investment firm Silver Lake. So ends the fight with activist investor Carl Icahn, who fought for a higher price.

A tunnel connected Europe and Asia, celebrating Turkey. A railway tunnel beneath Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait, which the Turkish government hopes will turn into an important trading route, now connects the two continents. The $4.5 billion, 8.5-mile railway was opened on the 90th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey.

Rabobank joined the Libor-rigging shame game. The Dutch bank became the fifth financial firm sanctioned in the Libor interest rate-fixing scandal when it agreed to pay fines of $1 billion to settle charges from the UK, US and Dutch regulators. Rabobank’s chief executive, Piet Moerland, stepped down.

Polio returned to Syria. Ten cases of polio have been confirmed among children near Syria’s Iraq border, in the country’s first outbreak of the infectious disease since 1999. Immunization rates in Syria have dropped by a quarter since 2010 amid ongoing violence that has weakened the country’s infrastructure.

Congress shamed Obamacare’s launch. Marilyn Tavenner, director of the agency in charge of setting up, testified to a congressional panel that the website’s glitches fell short of expectations and were unacceptable.

Quartz obsession interlude

Todd Woody on the Pacific Rim’s new environmental superpower: “Success at creating common renewable energy and efficiency policies—for appliances, buildings, cars—across the states and British Columbia will create a market far too big to ignore. And one that will likely create de facto national standards in the US, just as the long-standing alliance between California and northeastern states on automobile emissions led the federal government to impose similar national clean air standards. The pact may not be good news, however, for climate-denying states seeking business investment.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Young writers should work for free. Just as businesses go through an initial unprofitable period, journalists should think of their early, unpaid pieces as a beta trial.

Bribing your children helps them succeed. Or does it just teach your children to expect treats?

Republicans should pay for the shutdown.The politicians who put ideology ahead of common sense and commerce hurt local business people and should not be re-elected.

A digital currency could transform Africa. Coins are expensive to mint and easily lost, but virtual cash could change the scrappy African economy.

Surprising discoveries

Sriracha is so hot it burns. The hot sauce recently opened a new factory near Los Angeles and local residents are complaining that the odors are burning their eyes.

Pirates hate pop music. British naval officers blast Britney Spears songs from their ships to scare away Somali pirates.

Robots are outsmarting robot sensors. An artificial intelligence system has cracked CAPTCHA, the program that tests whether a computer user is human or robotic usually by asking the user to read and input distorted text.

This politician loves science non-fiction. Rand Paul invoked the 90s sci-fi movie Gattaca during an anti-abortion speech in Virginia, which borrowed very heavily from the film’s Wikipedia page.

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