Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Berlusconi’s fate, Nasdaq’s climb, Gulf overfishing, Bible diets

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What to watch for today

Royal Mail posts a profit. The UK postal service reports its first half-year results since being floated earlier this year and is expected to show signs it’s returning to health. Also today, the UK’s business secretary appears before a parliamentary committee to defend Royal Mail’s IPO, which critics say was underpriced.

Berlusconi’s fate is decided. Italy’s senate votes today on whether to eject Silvio Berlusconi, the country’s scandal-ridden former prime minister, from his seat in the upper house, following his conviction this summer of involvement in a large-scale tax fraud. If expelled, Berlusconi loses immunity from arrest.

Spain and Argentina patch things up. Spanish oil giant Repsol is expected to end an 18-month dispute by approving Argentina’s offer of $5 billion as compensation for seizing Repsol’s 51% stake in Argentine energy company YPC. It’s less than half what Repsol asked for—and not in cash but Argentine government bonds, hardly a great guarantee.

Looser Thais. After the Bank of Thailand kept its benchmark rate unchanged at 2.5% at its last meeting, citing some economic improvement, investors will be watching to see whether the central bank can avoid dropping it this time, after GDP growth fell short of expectations last week.

While you were sleeping

Barnes & Noble outperformed, but is still in decline. The US bookstore chain increased third-quarter profits by 13.7% on a year ago, but by cutting worker hours and pruning its Nook e-reader business, not by growing. Revenue was down 8%.

US home prices rose at bubble-like speeds. The 20-city S&P/Case-Shiller home price index for September was up 13.3% year-on-year, the fastest pace since the housing bubble’s peak in 2006. But this isn’t a bubble, the index’s compilers said; other data show the housing market cooling off.

Islamic banking comes to Europe. A group of Gulf investors plan to launch Eurisbank, the euro zone’s first sharia-compliant bank (which finds ways to work around Islamic prohibitions on charging interest and excessive risk), in Luxembourg. It will have startup capital of €60 million ($81 million).

The Nasdaq closed above 4,000. The New York tech stock index last closed that high on Dec. 29, 2000, triggering a bull run that ended with the collapse of the dotcom bubble some three months later.

South Africa grew at its slowest pace in four years. Strikes at car plants caused manufacturing to decline 6.6%, leading GDP to grow at an annualized 0.7%. The mining industry, despite also being hit by strikes recently, grew 11.4%.

US jets buzzed China’s no-fly zone. Officials said that unarmed B-52 bombers had flown early Tuesday morning into the airspace above disputed islands in the East China Sea, which China at the weekend declared a no-go area for aircraft without prior permission. China didn’t respond to the US provocation.

Quartz obsession interlude

Todd Woody on how Google Earth is busting Persian Gulf nations for overfishing. “Weapons-grade uranium isn’t the only thing Iran may be hiding. The country does not report its fishing catch to the United Nations, which is problematic given that the Persian Gulf, like other areas of the world, suffers from overfishing. But thanks to Google Earth, scientists now know that Iran hauls in more than 12,000 tonnes a year from 728 weirs, large structures built in intertidal zones to trap fish.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Silicon Valley isn’t as meritocratic as it thinks. Behind its myth of a level digital playing field lies a closed system of privilege.

Abolish corporate income tax in the US. It’s driven domestic earnings abroad, lowering corporate taxes to just 10% of federal tax revenues.

Animals were harmed in the making of this film. And Hollywood should be held more accountable.

Don’t keep calm and carry on. It’s just not the way human emotions are wired.

Surprising discoveries

Divine dieting. The latest fad in diets, called the Daniel fast, is based on a Bible story.

Al Gore is now vegan. Once again, he’s following Bill Clinton.

Israel Confidential. The movie producer behind LA Confidential, Fight Club and Pretty Woman was previously an Israeli spy.

You don’t need to drink coffee. It turns out an hour of blue light is just as effective at waking you up.

A real glint in the eye. Surgically implanted platinum in the eyeball is the latest jewelry trend.

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

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