Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Abe’s war shrine visit, Softbank’s T-Mobile talks, Thai protests, fake knee surgeries

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

What to watch for today

Softbank eyes T-Mobile. Japan’s SoftBank Corp is in talks to acquire the US wireless carrier in a reported $20 billion deal that would merge Deutsche Telekom’s US mobile carrier with Softbank’s recently acquired Sprint Corp. If Softbank can fend off rivals and regulators, it would become the world’s second-largest mobile carrier after China Mobile.

Narendra Modi’s riot verdict. A court in New Delhi will most likely clear the Indian prime ministerial candidate of involvement in the 2002 riots that killed at least 1,000 Muslims.

Power is out in the UK… Some 24,000 properties in England are without electricity following storms and floods, and some customers may not have their power restored for days.

..and in the US. Tens of thousands lost their electricity in the Northeast and upper Midwest, where ice has pulled down power lines following a storm last Saturday. Some 139,000 homes are without power in Michigan alone, where more snow is expected.

While you were sleeping

Abe visited a World War II shrine. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Tokyo’s controversial Yasukuni memorial, where he acknowledged the presence of war criminals buried there and vowed to “renew the pledge that Japan must never wage a war again.” Beijing called the move “absolutely unacceptable,” and Seoul voiced its “regret and anger.”

China marked Mao’s birthday. Top leaders in Beijing bowed three times before a statue of the founder of the People’s Republic, who was born 120 years ago. Rituals were also performed in central Hunan province, where he was born.

Thai protests flare up again. At least one officer was killed when demonstrators trying to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra clashed violently with police. The national election commission urged the government to push back elections set for February 2.

Gunmen blocked Libya’s central bank. Dozens of militiamen in trucks barricaded the bank’s entrance, along with Tripoli’s nearby port, demanding that Prime Minister Ali Zeidan quit.

The Bank of Japan will likely hold off on more monetary stimulus until late next year at least, according to a former central bank board member.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz imagines what management consultants might say to the Pope. “Might the church find synergies with the Santa Claus enterprise? Claus already seems to be leveraging your brand equity to publicize his just-in-time gift delivery model, although we are still confused about the prospects of monetization. Amazing supply-chain (though we note with concern the potential impact of recent labor legislation on elf wage costs), and a top candidate for potential M&A activity. Win-win acqui-hire?” Read more here.

Matters of debate

China must move beyond Mao. Today’s leaders should banish their wrongheaded nostalgia so the country can join the league of modern nations.

Gendered spirits reinforce stereotypes. Cinnabon-flavored vodka for the ladies and dude-centric “aggressive” whiskey brands play on outmoded gender ideals.

Jesus was “brown.” That’s the best way to skirt the increasingly charged debate about his ethnicity.

The PC isn’t going anywhere. A billion people will still use old-fashioned, immobile computers to get things done in 2014.

Surprising discoveries

Arthroscopic knee surgery might be worthless. In a study, some volunteer patients in Finland got the actual procedure, while others received dummy operations. A year later, most said they were better—even if they didn’t get the surgery.

Australian sharks are on Twitter. Scientists attached transmitters to 320 of the creatures, and when they get close to beaches, a computer Tweets their location, warning swimmers.

A kitchen robot outsells iPads in Portugal. Despite difficult economic conditions, consumers can’t get enough of the $1,327, German-made Bimby gadget.

Fukushima still haunts Japan’s fishing industry. Two years after the nuclear disaster, the industry is struggling due to fears about radiation.

A panda baby boom. Captive breeding programs seem to be working: 49 cubs were born around the world this year, and 42 survived—an all-time record.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, photos of adorable baby pandas and must-have kitchen devices to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.


Sign up for the Quartz Daily Brief here, tailored for morning delivery in Asia, Europe & Africa, and the Americas.