Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Mandela’s death, GM in Europe, China’s bitcoin ban, beneficial nudity

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What to watch for today

Jordan gets an invitation to the UN. The United Nations votes today on whether to offer Jordan a two-year seat on the UN Security Council—the same seat that Saudi Arabia rejected last month because of the UN’s failure to resolve the Syria conflict.

Job figures in the US. Nonfarm payrolls, which count the number of employed people in the US, is expected to fall to 183,000 after growing to 204,000 last month, and the unemployment rate is set to fall to 7.2% from 7.3% in its first reading since the government shutdown likely disrupted last month’s reading.

How US consumers feel. The US also gets consumer sentiment figures today, expected to jump to 76.2 or more from October’s 75.1, and data on personal income and spending—both of which are good indicators of how retailers can expect to fare this holiday shopping season.

Bidding on waste. Today is the deadline to make a first-round offer for Transpacific Industries Group, New Zealand’s waste-management company, which has been valued at NZ$900 million ($737.4 million). Bids are expected from private equity giants Blackstone and Carlyle Group, among others.

While you were sleeping

Nelson Mandela died. The anti-apartheid leader and former South African president passed away at the age of 95  at 8:50pm local time on Dec. 5th, at his home in a Johannesburg suburb, after a long illness. He left a historic legacy and many inspiring sayings.

Twitter appointed its first female board member. It was a day of firsts all round: Marjorie Scardino, former CEO of Financial Times owner Pearson, was the FTSE 100’s first female CEO; she is Twitter’s first board member with “old media” experience; and she sent her first tweet ever the day she was appointed.

GM pulled out of Europe. General Motors said it will take a one-time hit of up to $1 billion to withdraw its Chevrolet brand from most of Europe after Chevy sales in the continent dropped by 18% in the third quarter. GM has lost money in Europe every year since 2000, but still promises to break even “by mid-decade.”

China banned bitcoin. China said “excessive speculation” in the virtual currency could be harmful to the public and to the yuan, its currency, and bitcoin prices in China plunged by 25% on the news. But we argue that the announcement doesn’t really change anything.

The US economy grew more than expected… Third quarter GDP growth was revised up to 3.6% from the initial estimate of 2.8%, thanks to a rise in personal spending, exports and government spending—but a lot of it was also due to companies stockpiling inventory, which could be bad news for the next quarter.

… while its minimum-wage battle continued. Fast-food workers in 100 cities across the US staged a strike to protest their low income—the latest in a debate about raising the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour in the US. The Democrats have proposed a $10.10 hourly wage, but some strikers were demanding $15.

Quartz obsession interlude

Christopher Mims on why Samsung just launched the world’s largest floating vessel. “The answer has everything to do with our current rush to exploit ever more remote and hard-to-reach sources of fossil fuels. Some are tucked away under the ocean floor in places where extracting them with conventional ships simply isn’t economical. But the Prelude, with an estimated construction cost of $12 billion, changes those economics.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Art could save Detroit. It’s controversial to sell public art, but it could solve 10% of the bankrupt city’s debt problem.

George Osborne’s improvements to UK living standards don’t go far enough. Despite sweeping growth forecasts, wages are dropping.

23andMe’s clash with US regulators was a good thing. The genomics company’s problems highlight creaky old laws that need updating.

The Philippines has more to fix than the damage of Typhoon Haiyan. Weak institutions and a fragile business sector threaten its recovery.

Surprising discoveries

Sometimes the old phones are best. Sir Philip Green, the British retail tycoon, uses a decade-old Nokia 6310 (paywall).

Addicted to work. Adderall, the student-favored alertness drug, has found its way into the workplace.

Girl talk for the GOP. Male Republican candidates in the US are being trained to talk to women without offending them.

Nudity has social benefits. Showing more skin makes others think you’re more experienced and more emotionally sensitive.

Try a Christmas tinner. Cooking is overrated—now you can get a full Christmas dinner in a can.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, tips for talking to women and ancient cellphones to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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