Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—British jihadists, Hong Kong, changing IQs, lost pesetas

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What to watch for today

Putin picks at the wound. Expect a response after the Russian president called for talks on “statehood” for the eastern part of Ukraine. He also said the country should negotiate directly with pro-Russian rebels. Russia is under sanctions, sending its ruble to a low, for annexing Crimea earlier this year.

German and Brazilian economic data arrives. Monday brings the final estimate of Germany’s last quarterly GDP figures, ahead of a European Central Bank meeting this week and signs of deflation. And the latest Brazilian import and export reports are released, days after it was confirmed Brazil is in recession.

Britain acts on homegrown jihadists. The UK is planning to announce measures to block British citizens fighting in Syria and Iraq from returning home, though they could keep their passports. More than 500 British fighters are estimated to be there now. One of three militants dubbed “the Beatles” is suspected of killing James Foley.

Small islands, unite! The third United Nations Conference on Small Island Developing States begins in Apia, Samoa. The overarching goal is to discuss sustainable development. Some 41 island nations are taking part.

Over the weekend

No universal suffrage in Hong Kong. China has told Hong Kong its next leader will be selected via an election committee in 2017—dashing the aspirations of pro-democracy activists. On Sunday, Macau re-elected its chief executive similarly, in a vote where Fernando Chui was the only candidate. The process took 25 minutes.

America Movil prepared for a breakup. Under pressure from Mexican lawmakers, Latin America’s largest wireless provider hired bankers to help it sell assets.

You’re next, Saudi king warned the West. Jihadist attacks “will reach Europe in a month and America in another month” unless world leaders halt the Islamic State, said Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah. His words echo John Kerry’s call for a global military effort to confront the brutal militants who are sweeping through Iraq and Syria.

Modi visited Japan. The Indian prime minister met with Shinzo Abe as part of a five-day trip. There have been reports that the two powerful Asian countries could sign a historic defense agreement that would mark only the fourth such deal signed by Japan.

Bardarbunga ebbed and flowed. The Icelandic volcano erupted, leading to an alert from the country’s weather office, which was later lowered. Everyone is waiting for an eruption, like the one caused by Eyjafjallajokull that disrupted flights across Europe in 2010.

Quartz obsession interlude

Svati Kirsten Narula on how Americans may soon find out that butter is a luxury. ”The amount of butter stored in refrigerated warehouses across the US is 42% lower this summer than last, according to the USDA. On Aug. 29, butter futures reached an all-time high of $2.55 per pound on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The US has done everything right. Devaluation, deflation, and default (paywall).

Don’t hire people for what they know. Instead, ask if they can learn to do the job.

The newest spectator sport? Video gaming.

Your IQ isn’t constant. It changes over time.

Surprising discoveries

Spaniards haven’t swapped a lot of pesetas. They’ve kept 1.7 billion euros ($2.2 billion) worth.

Farming consumes 80% of the US’s freshwater. That’s quite a lot.

Burma’s census showed its population at 51 million. That’s nine million less than last time.

Libraries don’t need books anymore. Not paper ones, anyway.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, stashes of pesetas, and those small packets of butter you get at hotel breakfasts to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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