Quartz Daily Brief —Asia edition—NATO’s response to Ukraine, Apple’s mobile payments, celebrity hacking

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What to watch for today

NATO weighs response to Ukraine crisis. Officials of the alliance, meeting in Wales this week, are expected to endorse a plan for a rapid-reaction force of 4,000 troops (paywall), capable of deploying within 48 hours to Eastern Europe. Meanwhile, Reuters reports that new EU sanctions might ban the buying of new Russian government bonds.

US fast-food workers are planning protests. Organizers tell the New York Times (paywall) that fast-food workers seeking a $15 minimum wage hold strikes and sit-ins in more than 100 cities on Sept. 4.

Putin maneuvers to dodge sanctions. Russia is preparing to transfer a $10-billion sovereign wealth fund from a sanctioned state-development lender to the central bank, Bloomberg reports.

European bonds are on the rise. A report showing slowed growth in factory output helped the case for more European central bank stimulus, and drove a rise in Italian and Portuguese government bonds.

Libya descends further into chaos. Tripoli said Monday that it had lost control of its ministries (paywall) after armed men from a coalition of militias stormed the capital.

While you were sleeping

Separatists in Ukraine sought “special status.” Officials from the self-proclaimed “People’s Republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk met with representatives from Ukraine and Russia, airing demands for special recognition that fall short of full independence, but not by much.

Barclays dumped its Spanish unit at a loss. The costly clean-up of Barclays continues, with the British bank offloading most of its operations in Spain to local lender CaixaBank. The urgency of the bank’s “bold simplification” plan is apparent in the move—the Spanish operations were priced at only half of their book value, saddling Barclays with a loss of £500 million ($831 million).

China has accused British MPs of interfering in Hong Kong. The BBC reports that the Chinese ambassador to the UK has warned parliamentarians against carrying out an inquiry into the ongoing tensions over democracy in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. The letter asserts that China will “brook no interference, either directly or indirectly, from the UK or any other external forces.”

Britain acted on homegrown jihadists. The UK announced new anti-terror measures, including giving police the power to seize passports of citizens suspected of trying to travel to Syria and Iraq to join groups like the Islamic State (also known as ISIL or ISIS).

China got tough on Microsoft. Chinese antitrust regulators have given the software maker a 20-day deadline to explain the relationship between the firm’s Windows operating system and its Office suite of products. Thanks to rampant software piracy China is already a tough market for Microsoft—it makes less money there than in the Netherlands.

Apple began looking into how its iCloud was hacked. Apple says it is “actively investigating” the theft of photos from several celebrities’ iCloud accounts, including fake and real nude photos. Photos of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Kirsten Dunst, and other celebrities were posted to message boards.

Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic advance to the quarterfinals of the US Open. Williams bested the unseeded Kaia Kanepi in straight sets to advance to the quarterfinals, while Djokovic won Monday’s fourth round match against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber in humid weather.

Quartz obsession interlude

Dan Frommer on why mobile payments are such a mess in the US, and a solution that may be in sight. “Now Apple, which will reportedly announce its mobile payment system next week, has a chance to kickstart the market. And it might actually succeed. Because of its size, power, and—most importantly—its focus on the user, Apple is uniquely positioned to make in-store mobile payments work. Finally.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Russia is burying its soldiers in unmarked graves to conceal their role in Ukraine. Dead and wounded Russian soldiers are being repatriated and then unceremoniously buried.

Brands are overrated. The Japanese retailer Muji, whose name, short for Mujirushi Ryohin, means “no-brand quality goods,” is betting that it doesn’t need logos to sell its understated style in India.

The threat of gun regulation is a great way to stimulate gun sales. At least, that’s how it worked when the US banned imports of Russian-made AK-47s.

Surprising discoveries

You can teach yourself to like healthy food. But first you have to stop eating all that junk.

Tennis can be transformed into music. The musician and DJ James Murphy, of LCD Soundsystem fame, is running data from US Open tennis matches through an algorithm that turns each match into a unique song.

Your next car will be watching you. Auto makers are adding eye-tracking technology, which could make sure you keep your eyes on the road as well as offer a new way to interact with your vehicle.

A potted plant can boost your productivity. New research indicates that minimalism in office design can go overboard, and shows a link between office plants and a 15% increase in productivity.

America’s shale gas boom brought Indian farmers a fortune. But the party isn’t likely to last much longer.

It’s going to get a lot harder to buy dog stew in Seoul. The city’s most famous dog meat restaurant is closing.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, potted plants, and junk food to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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