Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—APEC meeting, Catalonia vote, Jay Z’s champagne, scary books

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What to watch for today

APEC leaders meet. The 21 heads of the countries in APEC, along with Barack Obama and Vladmir Putin, are to meet in Beijing. APEC has agreed to a “collective strategic study” (paywall) on an Asia Pacific free-trade area. China wanted a more serious commitment, including a target start date. The US opposed that, as it hopes to complete a 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement—which currently excludes China.

Banks near a $1 billion deal over currency manipulation. Look for any share-price reaction after reports suggested seven large banks (paywall) may reach a settlement with US and UK authorities over their foreign-exchange dealings. The banks include HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, RBS, and Citigroup. (It seems all banks do these days is set aside money for fines from regulators.)

Global economic data. Look for the latest monthly reports on inflation in China, while India reveals the state of its trade balance. Japan also announces its latest data on bank lending. In Europe, there are the latest inflation figures from Norway. And the Bank of Israel’s minutes are released.

Soyuz returns to Earth. The Russian spacecraft will land in Kazakhstan after a mission to the International Space Station. The astronauts—one member from the Russian Space Agency, one from NASA, and one from the European Space Agency—shared their ship with fruit flies, as part of an investigation into the effects of weightlessness on multicellular organisms.

Over the weekend

Catalonia voted—sort of. The people of the Spanish region voted in an informal poll on whether they want independence, despite Spain’s top court declaring earlier plans to hold a binding referendum unconstitutional and the Spanish prime minister asking for a return to “sanity.” More than 1.1 million people (out of 7.5 million in Catalonia) had voted by mid-Sunday.

China gets an Asian anti-graft network. APEC agreed to deny safe haven to anyone engaged in corruption and to share information, including ways to return the proceeds of criminal activities. The deal, proposed by China, comes as its leader Xi Jinping cracks down on corruption in his nation.

North Korea released two Americans. One of the detainees, Kenneth Bae, had been held for two years, accused of plotting a “religious coup d’état” against Pyongyang. The other, Matthew Todd Miller, entered the country under mysterious circumstances earlier this year. James Clapper, the US intelligence director, accompanied the men back from North Korea.

Germany celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. A beautiful temporary artwork called “Lichtgrenze” involved installing 8,000 luminous balloons along the route of the wall.

Quartz obsession interlude

Kabir Chibber on how a racist remark led to Jay Z investing in a new brand of champagne. “Jay Z recounts in his memoir how he would be drinking Cristal in clubs in 1994, when few of his contemporaries had heard of it. ‘We didn’t have a record deal yet, but back then we’d show up at clubs in Lexuses and buy bottles of Cristal, while most people in the clubs were buying Moët. It was symbolic of our whole game—it was the next shit’.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Europe does public art better than anyone else. See London and Berlin.

The Cold War was a good thing. At least then, there was a clash of ideologies.

All cameras are police cameras. That’s how it feels when you’re a driver or pedestrian in London.

The internet is actually making English better. The language is more expressive than ever.

Fourth movies are often disasters. Pray that Toy Story 4 bucks the trend.

Surprising discoveries

One bitcoin mine can disrupt the entire network. A fire in Thailand affected the so-called hash rate.

Binaural beats may get you high. Regardless, Middle East authorities are cracking down on these audio recordings that some believe can induce a state of ecstasy.

People are more likely to get lost in scary books. Psychologists studied Harry Potter readers.

There is only one female photojournalist in Gaza. “People criticized everything I did—even how I moved,” says Eman Mohammed.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Cristal bottles, and scary books, to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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