Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Apple’s big reveal, new EU sanctions, green junk food, space tweets

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What to watch for today

Who’s the Islamic State’s masked man? US officials say they are close to identifying the British-accented man who appears to execute journalist James Foley in last month’s video from the militant group. And President Barack Obama will tell Congressional leaders his plan for fighting IS, which could take three years (paywall), beyond his term in office.

Apple’s big reveal. At today’s event in California, expect Apple to unveil new iPhones with larger screens, some sort of wearable device, and a new mobile-payments system that some say will kill credit cards. A video supposedly featuring the new phone is already on YouTube. Here’s our detailed breakdown of the structure of an Apple keynote event.

The Fed lays out new bank capital rules. Daniel Tarullo, a member of the US central bank’s board of governors, will tell Congress that banks will have to meet even stricter standards for capital requirements than those in the international Basel III accord.

The first ever Asian male plays a Grand Slam final. Kei Nishikori of Japan will play Marin Cilic of Croatia in the US Open men’s final in New York. Firms like satellite broadcaster Wowow, which has broadcast rights to the tournament in Japan, and Uniqlo, which makes Nishikori’s polo shirts, are seeing a surge in business.

While you were sleeping

The EU agreed to sanction Russia… eventually. The latest measures will limit (paywall) three big Russian oil firms’ ability to raise money on European markets, but won’t take effect at once (pdf); the EU is waiting to see whether or not the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine collapses completely.

Iraq swore in a new government. After weeks of political horse-trading, prime minister Haider al-Abadi’s team is still lacking ministers for defense and the interior. To make things even more fun, his divisive predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki, who was forced out of office, is one of three vice-presidents.

The Alibaba roadshow began. Hundreds of investors and hedge funds showed up for day one of the Chinese e-commerce giant’s 10-day roadshow in the US and Asia. Lots of them had the expected questions about the company’s puzzling corporate governance and plans for growth.

Switzerland might give Edward Snowden safe haven. The country’s attorney-general ruled that, were the NSA whistleblower invited to Switzerland to testify about US government surveillance, he probably wouldn’t be extradited to the US and might be able to seek asylum too, because Switzerland doesn’t extradite people for “political” offenses.

Ryanair bought a lot of Boeings. The budget airline ordered 100 of Boeing’s latest jetliner, the 737 MAX 200, for an estimated $11 billion, with an option for 100 more. The airline called the new, more fuel-efficient jet a “game-changer” and said it could set off a new airline price war (paywall) in Europe.

Home Depot said yes, it was hacked. The US retailer confirmed that its payment systems have been breached. The attack looks similar to the one Target suffered last year, in which details of some 40 million credit- and debit-card accounts were stolen, but there aren’t any details on how many were compromised in Home Depot’s case.

Good news for Spanish housing. Home prices rose year-on-year for the first time since 2008. There are other signs of recovery too, but don’t pop open the cava just yet—the average house remains nearly 40% below its peak price, and by some measures is still overvalued.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on how Americans’ love of junk food may be good for the environment. “[T]he fondness for fat and sugar that’s making more and more Americans sick has a strange upside: It creates fewer greenhouse gases (GHG) than a healthy diet does. In fact, if the average American were swap his current diet for the menu recommended by the USDA, the country would produce 12% more greenhouse gases than it does now, according to a new study.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Ben Bernanke has been vindicated. Skeptics warned the Fed’s bond-buying program would lead to doom, but it’s earned $1 trillion for those who had faith and bought US Treasurys.

TV is for old people. The internet is where the young folks are at.

Shale gas could be worse for the environment than coal. Fracking releases so much methane—a powerful greenhouse gas—that it may outweigh the benefits of cleaner-burning fuel.

Qatar is a “godfather to terrorists.” The Gulf monarchy’s support of extremist Islamists (paywall) is alienating its allies.

High CEO pay isn’t a problem. The problem is pay packages structured around short-term incentives.

Surprising discoveries

NASA will send your tweets into space. The 50 best tweets and Instagram images with the hashtag #AsteroidMission will be included in a time capsule returning in 2023.

Scotland could miss the Rio Olympics. If it votes for independence, the country won’t have time to qualify.

Finland’s gay erotic postage stamps are a global hit. The new stamps featuring pictures by the artist known as Tom of Finland have had orders from 178 countries.

A single sneeze can infect your entire office. It takes as little as two hours for a virus to spread around a building, according a new study.

Animal fur can save your child from asthma. The microbes in it can help build resistance—in babies who sleep on it before they’re three months old.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, erotic postage stamps, and spare furs to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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