Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Apple’s big day, smooth-talking the Scots, Microsoft buys Minecraft, superstar DJ flubs

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

What to watch for today

Will Obama call for bombing Syria? The US president outlines his strategy against the Islamic State. He has already signaled he might authorize airstrikes without congressional approval, and a new poll shows most Americans would support them.

Europe discusses Russia sanctions yet again. Having adopted new measures against Russia on Monday, the EU will now debate whether to actually apply them. Despite scattered fighting, the Ukraine ceasefire is still holding “in general,” according to the Russian foreign minister.

English leaders try to smooth-talk the Scots. Britain’s Tory, Labour and Lib Dem leaders will all head north to cajole voters out of seceding. Polls are showing the “yes” vote as possibly winning, causing the pound to slump.

The internet slows down. Or will seem to, if you’re browsing one of the sites (including Netflix, Reddit, and Wordpress) taking part in a protest against proposed US rules allowing telecoms to create “slow” and “fast” lanes. The sites won’t actually load more slowly; they’ll just pretend to with ”spinning wheel of death” icons.

Stories from “Summer Davos.” Expect a steady stream of news from the World Economic Forum’s annual conference on emerging economies in Tianjin, China.

While you were sleeping

Apple shares slid after its big reveal. After the company unveiled a smartwatch (here’s what it’s like to wear it), a pair of larger (and thinner, but not that much thinner) iPhones, and a new payments system, its shares dropped by as much as 2%, after initially rising nearly 5%. Still, that’s typical for Apple product launches.

Microsoft is buying Minecraft. This is going to be an interesting culture clash: Microsoft is nearing a deal to acquire the popular video game’s Swedish creator, Mojang, for more than $2 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall). The purchase of Minecraft—which has spawned books, a movie, and a near-perfect digital facsimile of Denmark—could reinvigorate Microsoft’s Xbox game business.

More bad news for Japan’s economy. The producer price index fell 0.2% in August—the first month-on-month fall since January. The dip was largely due to a 1.1% reduction in oil and coal prices, but will nevertheless put pressure on the government’s attempts to spur inflation.

Venezuela’s state oil company put Citgo up for sale. PDVSA is seeking offers for its US refinery and storage business, according to Reuters, in a deal that could be worth $10 billion. Venezuela is suffering severe cash flow problems, although the government denies this.

China’s premier downplayed anti-foreign business concerns. Li Keqiang tried to assure multinationals that recent antitrust investigations did not single out foreign companies. He told a group of foreign CEOs that ”only 10%” of investigated companies are foreign.

The US dollar store battle is getting heated. Dollar General is launching a hostile takeover bid as it takes its spurned $9.1 billion offer for Family Dollar directly to the company’s shareholders, according to Reuters. It is trying to break up Dollar Tree’s agreed-upon deal to acquire Family Dollar as the US low-priced retail sector consolidates.

Quartz obsession interlude

John McDuling on how Alibaba’s upcoming IPO is a true test for Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer. “As the highest-profile female CEO in a corporate world still overwhelmingly and depressingly dominated by men, Mayer is already a trailblazer. If she can set Yahoo on a sustainable post-Alibaba path, it would rank as one of the great corporate turnarounds. The problem is, to outsiders at least, there is no obvious way of achieving that.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Harvard should lose its non-profit status. The storied institution has become a hedge fund and real estate firm with a university attached.

Condoleeza Rice should run the NFL. The former US secretary of state is the only one who can save the troubled league.

Apple is the biggest fashion company in the world. Its new smart watch and purchase of Beats are proof.

Facebook doesn’t deserve its $200 billion valuation. But Google does.

Living wills should have a suicide clause. People with incipient dementia should be allowed to tell doctors when to administer a lethal dose.

Surprising discoveries

New York City has a million dollar parking space. Plus monthly charges.

Superstar DJs are making mistakes on purpose. They want to prove they are actually mixing songs live.

The Libyan parliament’s new home is a ferry. Legislators are taking refuge in a Greek ship anchored in a remote port city.

A German waiter broke the world beer-carrying record. He schlepped 27 mugs for 40 meters (130 feet).

Google perks are so good employees don’t need to pay rent. One worker lived on campus for years.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, DJ mistakes, and NFL commissioner nominations 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.