Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Hong Kong occupied, Modi in Manhattan, new EU-Apple probe, CIA Starbucks

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

More unrest in Hong Kong. Pro-democracy demonstrations led to mass arrests and tear gas over the weekend, but protesters are still occupying Hong Kong’s financial district and causing disruptions to private businesses and mass transit networks. The protestors adopted the “hands up” gesture of non-violence that was recently seen in Ferguson, Missouri. Beijing blocked Instagram on the mainland and censored any mention of the protests on social media.

The Modi show continues. After speaking at the UN and wowing the crowds at Madison Square Garden, the Indian prime minister meets 11 CEOs from companies including Google, PepsiCo, and Goldman Sachs. He then sits down for dinner with US president Barack Obama, although Modi will be continuing his 9-day religious fast (paywall).

Afghanistan’s first new leader in 13 years. Technocrat Ashraf Ghani will take control of a power-sharing government in the country’s first democratic handover of power. He replaces Hamid Karzai, who has ruled Afghanistan since the US deposed the Taliban in 2001.

Global economic data. Germany and Spain will release data on inflation, while the UK reports net lending figures. Later, the US reports personal income, a member of the US Federal Reserve speaks in Chicago, and Brazil’s central bank releases its quarterly inflation report.

Over the weekend

Anti-Islamic State airstrikes gather momentum. The US-led coalition of more than 40 countries has expanded its strikes to a Kurdish area of Syria along the Turkish border for the first time and is targeting oil refineries under IS control in Syria. More than 200 airstrikes in Iraq and almost 50 in Syria have been confirmed since last month.

France’s far right party made electoral gains. The Front National will enter the upper chamber of the French parliament for the first time, after winning two seats in yesterday’s election. Though the Senate doesn’t have much power, the 348-member chamber’s swing to the right was yet another blow to socialist president Francois Hollande following the return of his nemesis, Nicolas Sarkozy.

The EU prepared a massive fine against Apple. The company will be accused of improperly negotiating for state aid (paywall) from the Irish government by promising jobs in exchange for preferential tax treatment, according to the Financial Times. Apple, which is under fire for its tax avoidance tactics, could face a fine of several billion euros.

Alibaba extended its shopping spree. The newly-flush Chinese internet giant will spend $459 million on 15% of Beijing Shiji Information, an technology company that caters to hotels. Alibaba hopes to build its own travel business and recruit hotel customers to its e-commerce platform.

SoftBank sweet-talked DreamWorks Animation. The Japanese telecom giant is in talks to buy Hollywood’s largest independent animation studio, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The deal values DWA at $3.4 billion, compared to its a market capitalization of $1.9 billion on Friday; SoftBank share prices rose on the news.

At least 30 people are feared dead at a Japanese volcano. Rescuers are searching for survivors at Mount Ontake, following a violent volcanic eruption at the popular hiking spot.

Catalonia inched closer to an independence vote. The president of the separatist-minded region of Spain signed a decree calling for a referendum, possibly on Nov. 9. The national government in Madrid considers any attempt at a Scottish-style secession attempt to be illegal, and is likely to take the dispute over the vote—which Catalonians call a “consultation”—to Spain’s Constitutional Court.

Air France pilots ended two-week strike. The crippling work stoppage caused widespread flight cancellations and cost the French flag carrier €20 million ($25 million) per day. The pilots’ union isn’t happy with new contract talks (paywall), but says that ending its strike will allow negotiations to take place “in a calmer climate.”

Quartz obsession interlude

Kabir Chibber on how India’s Modi is becoming Lula’s successor as leader of the global poor. “His words, and the manner in which he conveyed them, suggests that the world again has a leader who speaks for the billions of non-Westerners whose interests, although acknowledged, are often ignored. One they haven’t had since January 2011, when Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva left office.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Hong Kong protestors won’t achieve political change. But they have already won by politicizing the public.

We’re arriving at the endgame for BlackBerry. But the smartphone still has more than $2 billion in cash.

Asia is the most dangerous region in the world. Territorial sea disputes are only one reason why.

The future of music includes vinyl records. Especially the ones with hand-etched holograms.

Amazon is crushing local economies. It exploits low-wage workers with the help of huge government subsidies.

Surprising discoveries

The CIA has its own secure Starbucks. The outlet forswears loyalty cards and doesn’t write customers’ names on their cups.

Cuba banned a Che Guevara perfume. The government called the product from a state-owned company ”a serious error.”

Ireland is finally getting around to introducing postal codes. They begin in spring 2015.

What kind of fruit is your fetus? The ubiquitous pregnancy/produce comparison scale is creepy but effective. 

One in seven Japanese adults plays pachinko. The game’s revenues last year were a staggering $175 billion.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Modi MSG souvenirs, and pachinko winnings to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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