Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Eric Holder’s farewell, Ukraine’s cold shoulder, endless employee vacation, flying fish bones

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What to watch for today

BlackBerry dishes out its pie. The Canadian smartphone maker, which reports its quarterly earnings, has a market share of 0.5%, which may be why its new square phone is designed for the ability to not use it.

Britain joins the fight against ISIL. Prime minister David Cameron recalled parliament and has all but confirmed that the UK will join the US in bombing Iraq but will likely stay out of Syria.

Ukraine fights the cold shoulder. The European Commission will meet in Berlin to try and settle the arguments Russia and Ukraine are having about natural gas before the long and brutal winter begins. Ukraine hasn’t received any Russian gas since June.

Samsung launches the Note 4. The Korean handset maker will begin selling its 5.7-inch phablet on its home turf, and then launch in China. Samsung is rushing to get the device on Chinese store shelves before Apple’s new iPhones receive government approval. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus lands in Taiwan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and 18 other countries.

While you were sleeping

The US Attorney General resigned. Eric Holder won’t leave his post until his successor is confirmed by the US Senate. In February, Holder told The New Yorker he planned to leave by the end of the this year.

China wooed Spain, and vice versa. Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy and Chinese premier Li Keqiang fleshed out 14 deals—ranging from fashion to telecommunications—to move $4 billion between the two nations.

Sierra Leone hit back at Ebola. Three new districts have been put under quarantine, limiting the movement of an additional one million people. Over a third of the country has been contained, with no improvement in sight.

Fatah and Hamas shook hands. The rival Palestinian factions decided to set aside their differences and form a unity government that will rebuild what’s left of the Gaza Strip after a 50-day Israeli offensive. The estimated repair bill: $7.8 billion.

Two major subway systems went on alert. Iraqi prime minister Haidar al-Abadi told a group of reporters covering the UN General Assembly that security forces in Baghdad have captured American and French ISIL fighters who claim the militant group is planning attacks on public transport systems in New York and Paris.

Another end-all-be-all software bug emerged. Out with “Heartbleed,” in with “Bash,” the newest vulnerability to rile up global security researchers. Not much about the bug is understood, except that everything running on Linux or Unix is affected.

Quartz obsession interlude

Zainab Mudallal on the health hazards of trekking to Mecca. “The density of bodies at Hajj creates a breeding ground for illness. A meningitis outbreak followed the Hajj in 1987, and as a result, is now a required vaccination for the visa (along with vaccines for tuberculosis, polio, influenza and yellow fever). One study calculated the meningitis carriage rate at Hajj to be as high as 80%. A cholera strain was discovered in pilgrims upon their return Egypt from Hajj in 1905, leading to the deaths of thousands of pilgrims and residents.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Employees should take off all the time they want. It works for Richard Branson and his staff at Virgin, so.

Your kid cares that you’re not there. When Mohamed El-Erian got a letter from his 10-year-old daughter listing all the important milestones of her life that he missed, he immediately quit his high-flying job at Pimco.

New Zealand has the world’s best government design. It’s a real democracy, and yet it still has a monarchy.

Auto lenders have the right to remotely disable your vehicle. Even when you’re driving down the highway or need to take your child to the hospital.

Japan should just default on its debt. Its other options aren’t realistic, and this one would help redistribute wealth from the old to the young.

Surprising discoveries

North Ireland is issuing “scratch and sniff” cards that smell like weed. The police are recruiting the public to help sniff out cannabis factories.

Too much exercise may give you bad teeth. When your body is busy recovering from the torture of CrossFit or P90X, the last thing it’s thinking about is your smile.

College enrollment peaked in the US in 2011. Higher education has become a money pit.

Your skirt size is a litmus test for cancer. Breast cancer risk increases by 33% for women who go up one skirt size every decade after their mid-20s.

African fish fertilized the Amazon. Saharan dust from ancient dead fish that blew across the Atlantic Ocean is integral to the health of the Amazon rainforest.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

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