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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Hong Kong protests dwindle, Brazil’s presidential run-off, Samsung’s chip pivot, Germany’s shared bathwater

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Hong Kong protests limp into their second week. The Hong Kong government let a dwindling number of protesters remain in place on Monday morning, after a small path was cleared to allow government workers to return to work. As officials and students attempt to set up negotiations, it’s not clear that either group knows what it’s doing.

Airstrikes against the Islamic State continue. The world awaits a response to the apparent beheading of Britain’s Alan Denny, a kidnapped aid worker in Syria, by ISIL jihadists. Among the targets of the US-led bombing campaign is a former French intelligence officer who has defected to Al Qaeda, and who reportedly survived a cruise missile attack against the Qaeda-allied Nusra Front.

Japan recovers from typhoon Phanfone. Winds of up to 180 kph (112 mph) passed through Japan causing flight cancellations and the loss of power to thousands of homes. One US airman was killed after being washed out to sea from his post, and two others are missing.

Over the weekend

HP is splitting in two. The company plans to separate its PC and printer businesses from its hardware and services operations next year, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall). The split could unleash another round of deal-making by tech companies, including the combination of the HP hardware business with data storage giant EMC.

Brazil got a step closer to its next president. Incumbent Dilma Rousseff won the most votes in Sunday’s first-round election, and pro-business candidate Aécio Neves surged ahead of environmentalist challenger Marina Silva to finish second. A runoff between Rousseff and Neves will take place on October 26.

Samsung bet on smartphones—just not its own. The South Korean tech giant, facing sharp declines in profits from its smartphone division, is investing 15.6 trillion won ($15 billion) in a new semiconductor factory to build chips for mobile devices. Samsung’s own devices are getting squeezed by Apple and low-margin Chinese competitors—but much of the industry uses Samsung’s chips.

Snapchat and Square closed in on new money. Yahoo is preparing to invest around $20 million (paywall) into Snapchat, according to the Wall Street Journal, in a deal that would value the messaging app at $10 billion. And Square, an electronic payments start-up that is facing new competition from Apple and a standalone PayPal, secured $150 million in new venture capital funding that values the company at $6 billion.

The World Bank was downbeat on China, cutting its 2014 growth forecast to 7.4% due to fears that Beijing’s attempts to tackle local government debt, shadow banking, and pollution would hurt the economy in the short term. The World Bank also projects China will only grow by 7.2% in 2015.

Mexico discovered a mass grave. Nearly 30 charred bodies (paywall) were discovered in the western state of Guerrero, near the site where student activists clashed with police a week ago. A prosecutor said that a criminal gang ordered the police to “disappear and finish off” the students, but the motive was unknown.

Quartz obsession interlude

Kabir Chibber on some of the all-time best rants about doing business in France. “The history of French-bashing goes way back. The French writer and journalist Jules Huret visited Germany and wrote up his account in 1908. ‘There’s too much talking in your offices, large and small. We are always surprised when we go to Paris for work for all the time lost to chatting.’” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Economists are blind to the true limits of growth. Innovation can’t trump basic physical energy constraints.

Manhattan has become a perfect island of self-empowerment—as long as you’re empowered to begin with.

Governments should start talking to terrorists. Learn the lessons of Northern Ireland.

Hillary Clinton won’t be able to overturn the Cuban embargo. She has her husband to thank for that.

Germany is conserving too much. The country’s pursuit of thriftiness includes sharing bathwater.

Surprising discoveries

A Taliban official forgot to turn off geotagging. His tweets suggest he is in Sindh, Pakistan, but he claims an “enemy plot.”

A crystal made from cobalt can suck the oxygen out of an entire room. It could be useful for making fuel cells.

Babies think ripped-up paper is hilarious. And they’re right, based on this video.

The Islamic State was the victim of a suicide bombing. A female Kurdish fighter reportedly carried out the attack in Syria on Sunday.

You’re probably wrong about Napoleon’s height and Viking helmets. Along with 34 other popular misconceptions.

Scientists are ready to test lab-grown penises. Any volunteers?

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, self-empowerment strategies, and baby laughter videos to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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