Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—East China Sea tensions, Indian GDP, Iranian reactors, dinosaur toilets

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What to watch for today

Escalating tensions in the East China Sea. After Japan and South Korea said they flew surveillance aircraft into China’s “air defense zone” on Thursday, China responded by sending its own planes to patrol the area. Japan has promised more flights while China says it is willing to take “defensive emergency measures.”

India announces second quarter GDP growth figures. Analysts are expecting an abysmal 4.6%, up slightly from 4.4% in the first quarter.

Ukraine turns its back on Europe. European heads of government said there is “no hope” Ukraine will pick a trade deal with Brussels over one with Moscow, but they will try nonetheless to convince the Ukrainians to change their mind at a summit in Lithuania. Despite massive protests in Kiev demanding a deal with the EU, Ukraine seems certain to bow to Russian pressure.

A shopping extravaganza in the United States. Americans will wake up with bellies full of turkey and shops full of deals as retailers kick off the holiday shopping season. Shoppers will spend an estimated $13.6 billion on so-called “Black Friday,”

While you were sleeping

Iran invited in nuclear inspectors. The International Atomic Energy Agency said it will accept Iran’s invitation to visit a heavy-water production plant. The invite follows the landmark deal in which Tehran pledged to limit its nuclear program in exchange for the loosening economic sanctions.

Britain feared a housing bubble. The Bank of England scrapped a program to subsidize mortgages it launched only last year amid fears that it was stoking a dangerous rise in property prices. The “Funding for Lending” initiative will instead focus on boosting loans to small businesses, which remain starved of credit. 

Brazil opened up to fracking. Brazil put 240 blocks of land up for auction to energy companies, with some believed to contain reserves of shale gas. Demand was weak, however, with state-run Petrobras picking up most of the concessions after other firms balked at the remote nature of the territory and uncertain rules governing the drilling for shale gas.

More Germans lost their jobs. The ranks of the unemployed grew by 10,000 in Germany in November, the fourth consecutive monthly rise. For those looking to the euro zone’s largest economy to lead the region out of its economic malaise, this is worrying news.  

The US spied on world leaders in Canada, according to a new trove of documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowden. This time the documents suggest that American officials coordinated the surveillance with Canadian authorities, targeting the G20 summit in Toronto in 2010.

The Dutch rebuked Google. The Dutch data protection authority said Google’s privacy policy violates its laws. By combining users’ data from different services into a single pool, “Google spins an invisible web of our personal data, without our consent,” said the watchdog’s chairman.

Americans celebrated Thanksgiving which, at the White House, included no fewer than nine types of pie: apple, banana cream, chocolate cream, coconut cream, huckleberry, peach, pecan, pumpkin and sweet potato. 

Quartz obsession interlude

Heather Timmons on how Asian airlines must choose between patriotism and safety. “China’s controversial new “air defense zone,” which overlaps with existing zones claimed by Japan and South Korea, presents commercial airlines with a knotty problem. Many countries balk at recognizing the zone as Chinese airspace, but China says that airlines flying through it must submit flight plans, stay in radio contact with Chinese authorities, and follow their instructions.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

It doesn’t matter if Bitcoin crashes. It’s done its by job proving there is demand for digital currencies; others will follow. 

Academia is a like a drug gang. Just as the kingpins get rich while street dealers remain expendable, those at the top of the ivory tower are becoming more entrenched in their positions.

Silicon Valley is experiencing another bubble. SnapChat’s refusal to accept $1 billion for a photo sharing app may be only the beginning.

Maybe jellyfish aren’t so bad after all. One of the founding fathers of American science was captivated by the creatures.

Surprising discoveries

East England is facing a clown epidemic. Norfolk police have asked residents to ignore the red-haired, red-suited pranksters.

Dinosaurs used public toilets. A 240-million-year old site in Argentina has been identified as a communal dumping ground.

European companies are flush with cash. A $1 trillion stockpile from earnings, bond sales and credit means that firms in the beleaguered region could be ready to merge and splurge like the old days.

Colombia’s public watchdogs may be too keen. The financial regulator just got the sack (paywall) for not preventing the country’s biggest brokerage from collapsing—even though there was little he could have done.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, reports of clown sightings and spare euros to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.


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