Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—East China Sea tensions, Australia blocks ADM, Black Friday kicks off, clown epidemics

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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 a less-than-stellar 4.6% expansion, 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 Ukrainian leaders to change their minds at a summit in Lithuania. Despite massive protests in Kiev demanding a deal with the EU, Ukraine seems certain to bow to Russian pressure.

France considers an anti-prostitution bill. Lawmakers begin discussing a measure that would hit sex workers’ clients with steep fines. The proposed legislation would be some of the toughest in Europe, and has sparked a spirited debate in the country

A US shopping extravaganza. Americans will wake up with bellies full of turkey to 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

Germans are bullish on a Merkel coalition. A poll found roughly three quarters of people think the Social Democrats will okay a coalition government with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Italy’s youth unemployment hit a new high, rising to 41.2%. The country’s seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate for October was in line with expectations, at 12.5%, as the country struggles to kickstart an economic rebound.

Sweden’s expansion disappointed. Gross domestic product increased 0.1% in the three months through September, short of an anticipated 0.5% gain. The country  is “still in a deep industrial recession because of incredibly weak demand abroad,” said one economist.

Netherlands lost its AAA rating. The country’s growth prospects have deteriorated, S&P said.

Japan’s price gauge rose. A measure of prices excluding fresh food and energy rose at the fastest pace in 15 years, increasing 0.3% in October from a year earlier. That’s a positive sign for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who wants to curtail deflation.

Thailand’s PM ruled out new elections. Anti-government protesters stormed the Thai Army’s headquarters in their quest to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinwatra. But she refuses to step down and said today she wouldn’t call early elections.

Australia blocked an ADM deal. Ag giant ADM’s $2.6 billion takeover of grain storage and distribution company GrainCorp. was rejected on grounds of national interest, after local farmers expressed concern.

Quartz obsession interlude

Heather Timmons on how airlines must choose between patriotism and safety in Asia. “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

India is over-optimistic. Positive thinking is one thing, but the country needs to channel its exuberance about its future and tackle its very real economic challenges 

Ignore Hamid Karzai. The US should be patient and continue pushing for progress in Afghanistan, even if the country’s president is peevish and ungrateful.

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.

Surprising discoveries

Our ancestors were inbred. In the distant past people lived in small groups, with reproduction yielding little genetic diversity—and hampering health and technological development.

J.D. Salinger’s unpublished work leaked online. What appear to be reproductions of manuscripts for three of the author’s short stories have made their way from eBay to Reddit.

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

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


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