Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Heineken takeover brews, China’s GDP downgrade, Germany’s NSA anger, killer fish innovation

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What to watch for today

John Kerry meets Russia’s foreign minister. The US secretary of state will discuss the shaky ceasefire in Ukraine with Sergei Lavrov after fighting between pro-Russia rebels and Ukrainian forces broke out at Donetsk airport. Russia also sent more than 200 trucks into the area; it says they are carrying aid, but Ukraine and western governments are skeptical.

France hosts a conference on jihadists. The summit, jointly hosted by French president Francois Hollande and Iraqi president Fuad Masum, gathers 25 countries to discuss how to tackle the Islamic State (Iran is not invited). Several Arab countries have offered to carry out airstrikes against IS in Syria and Iraq.

Germany responds to reports of an NSA internet “treasure map.” The US spy agency and its UK counterpart reportedly infiltrated German network operators, prompting a parliamentary investigation.

Good economic news for the US. The Federal Reserve is expected to report an increase in industrial production and manufacturing output in August, while the New York Fed is likely to announce business conditions in September improved for manufacturers in the state.

Over the weekend

A takeover battle is brewing for Heineken. The Dutch brewer has dismissed a buyout offer from SAB Miller, amid speculation that Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s biggest brewer, is also preparing a bid. Heineken said its controlling family intends to keep the company independent.

Weak China data led to GDP growth revisions. Factory output in August rose by a lower-than-expected 6.9% from a year ago, spurring Barclays to cut its 2014 GDP growth forecast to 7.2%, from 7.4%. Premier Li Keqiang now has two choices: ramp up the stimulus or miss the government’s GDP target of 7.5%.

A third beheading rallied support for attacks on the Islamic State. British prime minister David Cameron vowed confront the Islamist extremist group with “iron determination” after it murdered British aid worker David Haines. However, it is unlikely the UK will officially join any fighting until after this week’s Scottish independence vote .

Sweden elected a center-left government. The Nordic region’s largest economy backed a Social Democrat-led coalition that won 43.7% of the votes, compared to 39.9% for the outgoing right-wing coalition. A far-right anti-immigrant party won a 12.9% of votes.

Liberia asked for US help with its Ebola outbreak. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made an urgent plea for new hospital beds and help setting up a military hospital, as the viral outbreak threatens to overwhelm the country’s healthcare system.

The pope married couples who were already living together. The marriage of 20 couples at the Vatican also included a single mother with a daughter from a previous relationship, in a sign of expanded inclusiveness from the Roman Catholic leader.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on how a killing-machine fish has colonized reefs from Venezuela to Rhode Island. “In 1985, someone released 10 or so female lionfish in south Florida waters. DNA analysis traces the entire Atlantic population back to those females. And it’s an extensive lineage. In less than three decades, lionfish have colonized a swath of the Atlantic Ocean that’s roughly the size of the US.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

India today looks like China in 2001. Beijing got a 13-year head start by liberalizing its economy.

You should be concerned when computers can lipread. Closed-circuit cameras might soon understand what you’re sayingjust like HAL.

The economic gender gap will eventually close. Work environments are changing to equalize behavior as more women join the workforce.

Formula E is already more of a sport than Formula One. It has a level playing field for drivers.

We should all take a bit of lithium. It could lead to fewer suicides and less dementia—plus it’s already in the water supply.

Surprising discoveries

Google’s self-driving car barely passed its driving test. Engineers had to take control of the vehicle twice.

A hole-in-one earned a trip to space. A company called XCOR will send pro golfer Andy Sullivan on a 30-minute journey to 300,000 feet (91 km).

The US postal service is subsidizing Chinese e-commerce. An international treaty means incredibly low US shipping rates for foreign merchants.

It costs 1.6 cents to make one US penny. Blame the rising price of zinc.

Switzerland doesn’t mind non-Swiss corruption. Perhaps that’s why 30 international sports bodies like FIFA are based there.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, pet lionfish, and bags of pennies to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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