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Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Hollande’s vote, Alibaba’s price, Microsoft-Minecraft, self-weighing suitcases

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

The French government’s moment of truth. President François Hollande’s newly-shuffled cabinet faces a confidence vote after a slump in opinion polls. It would take a pretty big rebellion by lawmakers of Hollande’s Socialist Party for the government to lose; a loss would force new legislative elections and open the door to the right-wing National Front.

How resilient is Germany’s economy? The monthly ZEW survey will give a sense of just how badly financial experts think European sanctions on Russia could affect Germany’s export market. Up to now, German trade has been doing surprisingly well despite the sanctions, but that might not last.

Obama ramps up the fight against Ebola. The US president will announce plans to send portable hospitals, doctors and medical supplies to West Africa, and to conduct healthcare training. Liberia has asked for extra help as the virus threatens to overwhelm the country.

Air France strikes, Lufthansa doesn’t. Some 60% of Air France pilots walked out on Monday, and that was just the first day of a week of planned strikes (if you’re flying, check flight schedules here). Lufthansa pilots, however, have just called off plans for their own strike on Tuesday.

While you were sleeping

The US rallied countries against ISIL in Iraq. A summit in Paris gathered some 30 countries to discuss how to tackle the terrorist movement, and US secretary of state John Kerry even offered to work with Iran. Several Arab countries have offered to carry out airstrikes, while Australia said it would send in troops, but the coalition still lacks the bulk for a sustained campaign. And there doesn’t seem to be a plan for fighting ISIL in Syria.

Alibaba bumped up its IPO price. As a result of strong demand, the Chinese e-commerce giant said it would raise the deal’s price range to $66-$68 a share, from $60-$66. The company is in the midst of the Asia leg of its IPO roadshow, which kicked off in Hong Kong, ahead of what could be the biggest IPO in history this Friday.

Microsoft is buying Minecraft for $2.5 billion. One of the year’s unlikeliest mergers in software is going ahead. Although Mojang, the company that makes Minecraft, tried to reassure fans, it stopped short of promising that things wouldn’t change. Minecraft’s creator, though, announced he’ll leave Mojang.

Apple hit a record with iPhone preorders. The company said it had over 4 million preorders in the first 24 hours for the iPhone 6 and 6+, double what the iPhone 5 had in 2012. The demand could cause supply headaches, and some people may have to wait until October for their phones.

A massive pension system said no to hedge funds. The $298 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System (Calpers)—the world’s fifth-largest pension fund—is quitting hedge funds, saying they’re too expensive and complex for its investment portfolio. Calpers’ investment is only $4 billion, but it might inspire others to pull out—or might not (paywall).

Traffickers capsized a boat carrying hundreds of migrants. As many as 500 people probably drowned after human traffickers rammed their boat off the coast of Malta last week. That makes for a total of some 2,900 migrants thought to have died on the Mediterranean so far this year, which is shaping up to be the deadliest year ever for migrants.

Quartz obsession interlude

John McDuling on how Alibaba’s IPO is already creating headaches for Amazon. “Alibaba, the Chinese internet colossus, is expected to pull off the biggest IPO in history this week. It will sell more than $21 billion of stock, according to Renaissance Capital. The thing is, as MarketWatch points out, big investors need to free up capital to participate in the IPO. To do this, they are likely to sell shares of US e-commerce companies (to avoid over-exposure to the sector).  For better or worse, the closest comparable company to Alibaba in the US is Amazon. Ebay’s share price also is under pressure of late.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The UK government is asking Scots the wrong question. The way the referendum is framed is likelier to lead to a “yes” vote.

The tech boom has an expiration date. Silicon Valley is taking on too much risk (paywall).

Venezuela’s government should default on its debt. It’s either that or default on its obligation to its citizens—which is what it’s doing right now.

Rising income inequality isn’t just bad for people. It’s denting US states’ tax revenues, too.

Democracy is losing the global battle of ideas. A lot of recent experiments in democracy haven’t exactly been success stories.

Surprising discoveries

The US is divided between those who say “uh” and those who say “um.” Here’s a uh, map of who, um, says what where.

Israel has a giant stone monument older than the pyramids. The crescent-shaped object is 5,000 years old and longer than an American football field.

Egypt printed pictures of the wrong canal on its new stamps. They were meant to celebrate the expansion of the Suez Canal, but they show the Panama Canal.

Robots are selling you things. They’re all over the place in advertisements now

Never worry about overweight luggage again. A $200 pledge on Kickstarter could get you this self-weighing suitcase by December.

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

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, driving test reports, and photos of the, erm, Suez Canal to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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