Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—UN drones, Detroit’s bankruptcy, Arafat’s cause of death, zombie infections

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What to watch for today

Big banks face EU fines. EU authorities may fine six large banks (paywall) billions of euros for allegedly colluding to rig Euribor, an interbank lending rate that, like its better-known (and equally scandal-ridden) cousin Libor, is a benchmark for massive amounts of securities.

Australia posts ruddy growth. Australia is expected to show a 0.8% quarterly rise in GDP, thanks to the country’s weakening dollar helping exports. Australia’s mining sector has seen happier days, but strong data from miners released last week suggests that it shouldn’t drag down overall growth too much.

More jobs in the US. The private-sector payroll survey from ADP will suggest 165,000 new jobs were created in November, from a particularly weak 130,000 in the previous month. While the official payroll figure on Friday is more important, ADP’s number will hint at whether employment is getting back on track.

FIFA executives talk tactics. Top dogs at world soccer’s governing body gather in Brazil ahead of Friday’s World Cup draw to discuss the humans-rights situation in Qatar, the host city for the 2022 tournament, as well as a series of issues that have ruffled Brazil, from construction accidents to street protests.

OPEC meets in Austria. The cartel of countries that produce 40% of the world’s oil output holds its last meeting of the year in Vienna to discuss how to keep oil prices stable and rising, whether to change its production target of 30 million barrels a day, and how to cope with supply issues in the Middle East.

While you were sleeping

Detroit got approved. Four months after Detroit filed for bankruptcy, a federal judge approved the application, granting the debt-ridden city protection from its lenders in the largest public bankruptcy in US history. Now the city will explain how it plans to offload $18.5 billion in debt.

Brazil’s economy shrank by the most in two years. GDP dropped by 0.5% in the third quarter—more than the expected 0.2%—dragged down by a weak agriculture sector, a drop in investments and a rise in household and government spending: “right now, the wrong sort of growth for Brazil,” as the FT says.

The UN sent its first drones. The UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo deployed two surveillance drones to keep an eye on rebel activity along the country’s borders with Rwanda and Uganda, although those countries deny they supported the recently-defeated M23 rebels.

Rio Tinto is cutting back. The London-based mining giant, the world’s second-largest, said it will cut capital spending in 2015 to $8 billion, less than half of last year’s level. That makes it the latest among its peers to rein in costs as a ten-year surge in metal prices comes to an end.

Arafat wasn’t poisoned. Yasser Arafat, the former Palestinian leader, died of natural causes, according to a leaked French report. The report, one of three independent investigations begun last year on Arafat’s exhumed remains, says traces of polonium found in his body and clothes were unrelated to his death in 2004.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on how more trade is now settled in yuan than in euros, but that doesn’t change much. “There’s a big difference between settling trade in yuan and using it for investment or as a reserve currency. The government has done little to open China’s capital account (more here). Small wonder. Doing so would risk a deluge of illicit outflows, driving up interest rates and probably crashing China’s already demand-sapped stock market. Letting the market set interest rates would likely bankrupt hundreds of state-owned companies. And to guarantee sufficient yuan liquidity, China would probably need to run a trade deficit, stunting growth.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Refusing the EU deal was a double blow for Ukraine. The EU is the only outside power that could soothe the protests sparked by the rejected deal.

Monetary policy no longer works. It’s trying to control too many variables with not enough tools.

AIDS can be eradicated. The obstacle is the continuing stigma and discrimination against AIDS patients, in rich countries as well as poor ones.

Graduating into a recession isn’t that bad. Because people have lower expectations of getting work, their long-term career satisfaction is higher.

Surprising discoveries

Korean kids aren’t happy. Pushy parents and strenuous schooling are good for test results but bad for morale.

How zombie infections spread. Data from horror movies show becoming a zombie is pretty much like getting the flu.

Movies are great for tourism. The Hunger Games boosted visits to the forest where it was filmed by 31%.

Why we love lists. These reasons aren’t written in list form, though.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, zombie epidemiology and lists of lists to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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