Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—IS refineries hit, Modi’s US visit, Harvard’s $36B man, mammoth auction

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What to watch for today

Narendra Modi’s US roadshow. India’s prime minister will be visiting New York and Washington for the first time, though politics won’t be the only thing on the agenda: He also wants Coke and Pepsi to start putting fruit juice in their soda.

Whatever happened to Kim Jong-un? North Korea’s dictator hasn’t been seen in public for three weeks. The South Korean government is paying close attention to today’s session of the North’s parliament, which the Dear Leader has always attended.

Muscle-flexing in the South China Sea. The navies of Japan and the Philippines are scheduled to hold drills off the latter’s Palawan province in order to increase “maritime situational awareness.” A Philippines spokesman said this “has nothing to do” with ongoing territorial disputes, but China might see things differently.

Mario Draghi checks up on the euro zone’s next member. The president of the European Central Bank visits Vilnius to attend a conference about the euro, which Lithuania is set to adopt in January.

Nike tries to live up to the hype. Rising demand from emerging markets, huge marketing campaigns, and new fashion lines are getting investors excited about higher profits. Analysts expect first-quarter earnings per share to rise to 88 cents, from 86 cents a year earlier.

While you were sleeping

Obama hit the Islamic State where it hurts… US warplanes launched airstrikes targeting small IS oil refineries in Syria, an attempt to cut off some of the $2 million in daily oil sales that the extremist group uses to fund its operations. Despite the bombings, IS conquered new territory in a Kurdish area in northern Syria, near the Turkish border.

…As IS-linked militants beheaded a French hostage. Herve Gourdel was kidnapped by Algerian militants on Sunday in retaliation for France’s involvement in air strikes on Syria. French president François Hollande confirmed the killing, and stated that the “operations against Islamic State will continue.”

The bubble popped for Chinese iPhone smugglers… Apple’s new smartphone hasn’t been released yet in the mainland, which sent the gray market price surging to almost $1,500 over the weekend. But a glut of supply from Hong Kong has since driven prices down to about $980, hurting smugglers who had stockpiled the devices; the same model costs HK$5,588 ($720) in Hong Kong’s Apple store.

…As Apple recalled an iOS 8 update. A new version of the iPhone software was meant to fix a series of bugs from the iPhone 6 launch, but ended up creating more problems. Before Apple pulled the update, it caused some iPhones to lose cellular phone service and access to the devices’ fingerprint scanners.

Harvard named a new $36 billion man. The university named Stephen Blyth, head of public markets at the school’s investment company, as thenew head of the world’s largest endowment. The fund, which plans to increase its exposure to private equity and real estate in 2015, posted a return of 15.4% in fiscal 2014—the kind of outsized gains that have led some to call for the end of Harvard’s non-profit status.

China’s central bank may soon have a new boss. Zhou Xiaochuan has been in charge of the People’s Bank of China since 2002, making the 66-year-old the longest-serving chief of the world’s soon-to-be largest economy. Rumors say he’ll be replaced (paywall) as early as next month by Guo Shuqing, an ex-banker turned governor of Shandong provence. Chinese officials are required to retire at 65.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on why more paternity leave is what economies—and mothers—really need. “The secret to keeping mothers in the workforce lies not in giving them more time off, but in getting more fathers to stay at home instead. And that, it turns out, depends to a large extent on getting rid of the pay gap that exists between men and women almost everywhere.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

America needs to start nation-building in Syria immediately. Otherwise it could suffer the same problems as in Iraq.

Ubiquitous porn doesn’t only affect teenagers. Even folks in their 40s are starting to behave differently due to the glut of free smut.

Let’s stop calling Asia “Asia.” It’s a Western construct that lumps together a diverse set of cultures.

Millennials are the best employees. Because of inexperience, they’ll put up with a lot of stuff that older hires won’t.

BlackBerry’s new square phone is weird, but wonderful. It might not turn the company around, but it does things no other smartphone can.

Surprising discoveries

Winnie the Pooh was a real bear. She was brought to the London Zoo by a US soldier and spotted by Christopher Robin Milne, son of the book’s author.

India’s Mars mission was cheaper than Gravity. It cost just $74 million to send the Mangalyaan spacecraft to Mars, versus $100 million to show Sandra Bullock in Earth orbit.

Buying votes with drugs—what could go wrong? A Texas school board election worker is charged with offering voters $10 worth of cocaine.

Seattle wants you to eat your leftovers. It will fine households if more than 10% of garbage is compostable—albeit only $1 the first time.

There’s a complete woolly mammoth skeleton for sale. In case you have £250,000 to spare and a living room with very high ceilings.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, real-life Eeyores, and mammoth tusks to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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