Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—RBS “bad bank,” business vs. the Tea Party, Obamacare’s dismal first day, Sriracha is saved

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What to watch for today

Can Chevron top Exxon? Chevron is the last of the oil majors to report earnings for the quarter, and investors will be looking to see if it can beat Exxon’s production growth. Chevron hinted earlier this month that earnings could slump compared to the previous quarter, but consensus expects them to rise on a year ago.

Iraq asks the US for help. Prime minister Nouri al-Maliki visits US president Barack Obama to seek  “a deeper security relationship” between the two countries. Translation: He’s needs help combating Al Qaeda and dealing with the conflict in Syria.

Millions of poor Americans get a little poorer. Extra funding allotted in 2009 to the federal government’s food-aid program expires, taking $5 billion out of benefit checks. And because families will have less money, some big retailers are bracing for a hit too (paywall).

Big Business vs. the Tea Party. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Caterpillar and AT&T are backing a moderate Alabama Republican in his primary battle against a Tea Party candidate who praised Sen. Ted Cruz’s calls for a government shutdown.

While you were sleeping

Obamacare’s rollout was even worse than you thought. Notes released by a congressional committee showed that only six people successfully used on the first day of signups, and a mere 248 within the first two days.

RBS created a “bad bank.” The government-owned British lender will avoid an outright break-up and transfer 38.3 billion pounds ($61 billion) of its worst loans to an internal unit for disposal, and speed up the sale of US bank Citizens.

China manufacturing marched onward. The HSBC purchasing managers’ index for October climbed to 50.9 on strong orders from the United States, and the official PMI hit an 18-month high. Strong PMI data were also seen in Taiwan, Vietnam, and South Korea.

Edward Snowden has a visitor. German Green Party politician Hans-Christian Ströbele met with the NSA leaker in Moscow to discuss whether he might testify in a German investigation of US surveillance programs.

East Turkestan group blamed for Tiananmen attack. China said the East Turkestan Islamic Movement was responsible for a suicide vehicle that killed three attackers and two bystanders; the embattled Uighur ethnic group is facing increased repression in the wake of the attack, but the crackdown could result in more attacks.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips on how Europe is the new Japan. “Recently, a concerted push of monetary and fiscal stimulus from Japanese officials—known as Abenomics—suggests that Japan could finally be breaking the deflationary cycle. Price levels have turned up markedly in recent months. For the global economy, that’s a good thing; a strong and vibrant Japan—still the world’s third-largest national economy—would provide another leg for the global economy to stand on. Unfortunately, just as Japan approaches escape velocity from the deflationary vortex, Europe is showing signs of what could be long-term economic trouble for the world economy.“ Read more here.

Matters of debate

Our consumer lifestyle is trashing the environment. And we’re heading toward peak garbage.

It’s hard out there for a dictator. Leading an authoritarian regime is tougher thanks to social media and the spread of democratic ideals.

Mexico shouldn’t privatize its oil industry. Increased oil revenue could raise corruption in Mexico to the level reached during its last oil boom, which eventually bankrupted the country.

Americans should adopt a Dutch mindset on marriage. Marriage isn’t a big deal in Holland, and if the US followed suit it could create a happier and more loving society.

Surprising discoveries

Why hot water freezes faster than cold. The “Mpemba effect” is traced to the hydrogen bonds in H20.

Malware that defeats air gaps. Even with everything unplugged, “BadBIOS” can spread via a computer’s internal speaker and microphone.

Hot and dirty. Twelve percent of spices imported to the US are contaminated with insects (both live and dead), animal excrement, rodent hairs, and other unappetizing materials.

Sriracha is saved. A judge denied a California city’s request to shut down the famous hot sauce’s manufacturing facility due to allegedly eye-burning emissions.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, dictator commiserations (but not any air gap-defeating malware) to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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