Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Cyber Monday, Philippines rescue efforts, multilingual personalities, giant subway plugs

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What to watch for today

Veteran’s Day ceremonies. Today is a federal holiday in the US, with various events honoring armed forces veterans. President Obama attends a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, while there will be a parade in New York City and other events nationwide. The New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ remain open, though the bond market is closed.

It’s Cyber Monday in China. What started as “Singles’ Day,” a celebration of bachelorhood, has now evolved into a mammoth online shopping spree throughout China. On this day last year, nearly $3.3 billion was spent on e-commerce giant Alibaba alone, compared to $1.5 billion spent on Cyber Monday in the US. Sales today in China surpassed Cyber Monday’s 2012 total by 8:42am.

Budget talks in Europe. Finance ministers from the EU’s 28 member states are scheduled to meet in the European Parliament to negotiate the terms of the 2014 EU budget, including public investment and innovative financing. UN-brokered climate change talks also kick off today in Warsaw, Poland.

Nuclear probe in Iran. Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, travels to Tehran to continue investigating whether Iran has secretly developed nuclear weapons. Last week’s talks between Iran and six world powers ended without a solution but key players said there’s been progress.

The Congo finds peace. A deal between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the M23 rebel movement is set to be signed today in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, after rebels last week declared an end to their 18-month-long insurgency.

Over the weekend

Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the Philippines… Landslides, 150 mph winds, and 20-foot waves hit the Philippines this weekend, killing as many as 10,000 people in one city alone, making it the deadliest natural disaster on record in the Philippines. Meanwhile, aid crews are struggling to reach affected areas.

…and made landfall in northern Vietnam. Though it’s now weakened to a severe tropical storm, winds have still hit 98 mph. At least 11 people have died and some 600,000 have been evacuated; China has also issued a typhoon alert.

Italian industrial output fell short of expectations. Production data revealed a 0.2% rise in September (paywall). That beat August’s revised 0.2% drop, but missed the forecast for a 0.3% gain. The seasonally adjusted numbers showed a 3% decline for the year ending in September.

Greece’s prime minister survived a no-confidence vote. The country’s parliament rejected a measure brought by the main opposition party against Antonis Samaras, whose government remains in negotiations with creditors.

Big banks might ban chat rooms. J.P. Morgan Chase and Credit Suisse are among the lenders considering blocking their traders from electronic chat rooms amid regulators’ investigations of possible currency market manipulation (paywall), the Wall Street Journal reports.   

Syria’s opposition will join peace talks. The Western-backed Syrian National Coalition committed to attending a proposed conference in Geneva provided certain conditions are met.

Quartz obsession interlude

Eric Holthaus and Ritchie King on how to fix global warming before it’s too late. “On its face, the idea of a global carbon budget is the ideal negotiating tool. There are hard numbers. There are clear consequences for exceeding defined limits. And it’s possible to incorporate the notion that climate negotiations have endorsed since 1992, that all nations share a ‘common but differentiated responsibility’ to avoid further damage to the planet. But, as with all budget fights, this one has a long list of potential winners and losers, which has slowed progress so far.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Destroy Syria’s chemical weapons…in Albania. Neither the US nor Russia can handle the weapons, but Albania has a suitable, ready-built facility.

Brits don’t mind state surveillance. The muted reaction to the Edward Snowden affair shows UK citizens aren’t bothered by concentrated government power and are complacent about civil liberties.

Multilinguals have multiple personalities. Different languages bring out different personality traits in the speaker.

Developed nations should foot the bill for natural disasters. Richer nations contribute the bulk of climate change-causing gases, but low-income countries disproportionately feel the effects.

Surprising discoveries

The Leipzig boys choir is running out of sopranos. That’s because puberty seems to be coming earlier and earlier, doing away with unbroken voices.

Farms could be the key to defeating allergies. The 20th century allergy epidemic may be due to humans moving away from farms, which are full of protective microbes that stimulate our immune systems.

A huge plug to keep New York City’s subways dry. The “Resilient Tunnel Plug,” which is taller than a double-decker bus, is designed to protect the city’s subways from Superstorm Sandy-like flooding.

The pie felled Wendy Deng. Rupert Murdoch realized when a pie-wielding protestor targeted him in Parliament that he didn’t want wife Deng protecting him, biographer Michael Wolff writes.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments and farm microbes to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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