Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Thailand’s opposition walkout, Greece’s growth, Mandela’s free-market think, The Hobbit’s climate

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What to watch for today

The world’s largest airline. The $11 billion merger of American Airlines and US Airways is set to be completed today, ending a string of legal and regulatory hurdles. On Saturday, the Supreme Court rejected a challenge that the deal would harm consumers.

Slower growth for Japan. Despite preliminary estimates that Japan’s economy grew by a quarterly 0.5%, or an annual 1.9%, in its third quarter, second estimates released today are expected to show a less encouraging growth rate of 0.3% on quarter, or 1.3% annualized.

Nuclear wind-down in Iran. Iran and six world powers are expected to meet this week to discuss implementation of a deal struck last month, in which Iran would cap its nuclear activities in return for some relief from sanctions.

A Dominican phone contact. European telecom giant Orange’s board considers the sale of its Dominican unit to Altice, a cable and telecommunications investor. The $1.4 billion deal is a key part of Orange’s plan to offload non-core assets.

Over the weekend

Poor countries got a trade boost. Roughly $1 trillion could be pumped into the world economy after the World Trade Organization’s 159 member nations, in Bali this weekend, agreed to simplify cross-border business deals and improve access to duty-free goods sold by poor countries.

Thailand’s opposition party quit. Thailand’s main opposition party resigned en masse from government saying a corrupt, illegitimate political system is “no longer accepted by the people,” following weeks of protests that have killed at least five people and injured almost 300.

India’s Congress took a beating. Congress, the ruling party of India for much of its 66-year independence, lost out in Delhi and other key state elections to the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party. Voters, concerned about corruption and inflation, offer a hint of tides turning in May’s general elections.

Ukrainian riots escalated. A statue of Lenin was toppled and battered with hammers as hundreds of thousands of protestors in Kiev called for the government to step down for rejecting closer ties with the EU after facing pressure from Russia.

Greek growth inched nearer. Greece expects to return to growth next year, according to its budget that was passed by lawmakers on Saturday—although the OECD expects the Greek economy to contract for a seventh consecutive year in 2014. Greece’s international creditors haven’t yet approved the budget, saying its spending cuts don’t go far enough.

Quartz obsession interlude

John McDuling on Qantas’ financial predicament. “Australia’s recent bout of protectionism…makes foreign help seem unlikely. Yet despite suggestions of an equity injection or debt guarantee, the recently elected conservative administration has suggested it won’t come to the rescue. With no obvious way out of this mess, the Australian government will need to decide whether it’s more comfortable with foreign ownership or government ownership, and quickly.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The global economy is worse than the dystopian Hunger GamesUS immigration restrictions contribute to a cruel form of exclusion.

Raising the minimum wage comes at a cost. Higher taxes, increased government spending, or lower incomes for the rich—but money doesn’t come from nothing.

Capitalism is failing us. It’s a good tool for building wealth, not a happy society, says The Wire’s David Simon.

South Africa has Mandela to thank for its economic power. Mandela chose free markets—which is odd, given his Marxist leanings.

Surprising discoveries

I feel your pain. Facebook could get a “sympathize” button.

Hobbit habitat. J.R.R. Tolkien’s Mordor has a climate similar to Los Angeles, while The Shire is more like the English midlands.

Science test. Half of Americans don’t know the cause of global warming or that lasers are not made of sound waves.

Meal, disrupted. This company is trying to innovate food, specifically by creating a substitute for eggs.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, tricky science questions, and fantasy climate theories to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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