Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Volcker vote, game spying, mega-mergers, floppy disks

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What to watch for today

Voting on the Volcker rule. US regulators, including the Federal Reserve and the SEC, will vote on whether to pass the Volcker rule, part of the Dodd-Frank “too big to fail” post-crisis reforms, and are expected to prohibit most trading done by banks for their own profit.

The EU moves to calm Ukrainian riots. Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, travels to Ukraine to see its president, Viktor Yanukovych, in an attempt to calm the protests that have stormed the country since Yanukovych rejected a deal that would bring Ukraine closer to the EU.

Sweden’s biggest IPO in seven years. Shares in Sanitec, a bath and toilet maker, list on Stockholm’s stock exchange. They are expected to go for 60-63 crowns (around $9.50 per share), which would value the flotation at up to $580 million and make it Sweden’s biggest IPO since 2006.

The Nobel Prize ceremony. The Nobel Prizes are awarded today in Oslo, Norway. This year, the economics award goes to Eugene F. Fama, Lars Peter Hansen and Robert J. Shiller “for their empirical analysis of asset prices,” while the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons scoops up the peace prize.

While you were sleeping

Thailand’s government was dissolved. Prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra called for a general election after parliament’s opposition party resigned, following after weeks of anti-government protests—but thousands of demonstrators remained on the streets, unappeased.

Online gamers have been spied upon. The US National Security Agency and it’s UK counterpart, GCHQ, placed agents as players and monitored communications in popular games such as World of Warcraft and Second Life, but seem to have found little evidence of terrorists using the networks to communicate.

The world’s largest airline… The $11 billion merger of American Airlines and US Airways officially completed after almost a year of regulatory hurdles and legal challenges—although it could be another two years before their operations blend together fully.

… and the US’s biggest food distributor. Distribution giant Sysco announced an $8.2 billion deal to buy its rival US Foods, handing over about $3 billion in stock and $500 million in cash, and acquiring $4.7 billion worth of debt. The takeover will boost Sysco’s sales to around $65 billion.

An Indian election boosted business. Indian shares hit a record high after the Bharatiya Janata party, the country’s business-friendly main opposition, won a majority of seats in elections for the Rajasthan state assembly, leaving the former ruling Congress party with just 21 seats to its 162.

A deal to revive the Dead Sea. Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority agreed to build a pipeline between the northern tip of the Red Sea and the Dead Sea in an effort to prevent the shrinking salty sea from drying out by 2050. The $10 billion project has been in the works for almost 20 years.

Quartz obsession interlude

Roberto Ferdman on how stubble’s return to fashion is hurting the shaving industry. “The male shaving sector has slowed down in both the US and Europe this year, and that’s at least in part due to the rising popularity of stubble, according to a recent report from Euromonitor. A move away from a culture of everyday shaving and towards one in which men embrace an artfully trimmed permanent two-day shadow—or, indeed, a full beard—has pinched some of the industry’s largest players.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Academic journals are killing science. The pressure to be fashionable and make headlines is causing researchers to cut corners, says this year’s winner of the medicine Nobel.

Uber is heading for world domination. The car-service app is growing the way of Amazon, once a mere bookseller, and could well kill the taxi industry.

Foie gras is a good thing. For France, at least, which exported €1.36 billion ($1.84 billion) of fattened duck and goose livers last year.

Surprising discoveries

Fashion odds. Nike is named after the Greek goddess of victory, but the odds of clothing the soccer World Cup champion are in Adidas’ favor.

There’s already an app for that. Hundreds of startups pitch themselves as slight variations of existing apps.

The racy side of environmentalism. Leonardo DiCaprio will enter a team into Formula E, the electric car racing competition.

This US government agency still uses floppy disks. The Federal Register is banned from using flash drives by a legal technicality.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, startup pitches and Formula E team names to (or on a floppy disk). You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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