Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Comet landing, Iran’s drone clone, the ad-free internet, Osama the Hero

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What to watch for today

Sales figures from the big W. Walmart, America’s largest retailer—and largest employer—is expected to report that sales rose 2.3% on the same quarter last year—though maybe more, given how cheap gasoline has become in the US. The retailer has a bold strategy for the holiday season, too, making Black Friday a week-long event.

Virgin America goes public. Sir Richard Branson’s airline, which began operating in Aug. 2007, is expected to raise as much as $320 million at a $1 billion valuation. It’s got tough competition: America’s various airlines had spectacular third-quarter results.

South Korea cuts rates—or doesn’t. All but one of the 20 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expect the country to leave its benchmark interest rate at 2.0%. But given Japan’s surprise decision to buy 80 trillion yen ($726 billion) worth of bonds, Korea may do something equally unexpected to boost its economy.

Numbers, numbers, numbers. Weekly US jobless claims, US energy stockpiles, Chinese industrial production levels and retail sales for October, and Russian GDP, which isn’t going to be pretty given the collapse of the ruble and western sanctions. As for other companies’ earnings: China Airlines, Nordstrom, and Viacom.

While you were sleeping

We hit a comet. Humanity landed a probe on comet 67P, a floating piece of debris 2.5 miles wide and 317 million miles (510 million km) away. The probe, Philae, left Earth in March 2004 strapped inside the Rosetta spacecraft. However, harpoons meant to anchor Philae to the space rock failed to deploy, casting doubt on how well it will gather data.

The internet was ad-free for a few hours. Doubleclick, Google’s ad-serving platform—used by nearly every major publisher—went down, causing holes to appear on some of your favorite websites. The search giant quickly fixed the problem but didn’t explain it.

Iran showed off a drone clone. State media published a video demonstrating an aircraft a lot like a Lockheed drone the US lost in Afghanistan back in Dec. 2011. Iran’s air force chief said the footage should give Americans a “mini-stroke”.

Ebola deaths passed 5,000. The rate of new infections is decreasing in Guinea and Liberia, but it still remains high in Sierra Leone, where hundreds of health workers went on strike demanding $100 a week in hazard pay. An estimated 14,000 have the disease.

Big banks got fined yet again. Six firms will pay $4.3 billion to settle allegations from a slew of regulators that they colluded to rig exchange rates, the latest scandal to hit global banking. Other cases may follow. In other news, Société Générale denied paying bribes in Libya, whose sovereign wealth fund is suing it for $1.5 billion in losses.

YouTube launched a music service. You’ll need an invite to use it, but once you get in, you’ll be able to save music videos to your phone for $7.99 a month and never see an ad again. You also need to be living in either the United States or one of six select European countries. No word about other regions.

Quartz obsession interlude

Lily Kuo on what retail data can reveal. “Earlier this summer, a group of data crunchers looking at underwear sales at Alibaba came across a curious trend: women who bought larger bra sizes also tended to spend more (link in Chinese)… Singles Day—the annual Nov 11 online shopping frenzy in which Alibaba saw as many as 2.85 million transactions a minute at its peak, and a total of $9.3 billion in sales—was both a test of, and a testament to, the company’s data-mining prowess.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

No one benefited from the Arab Spring. Scores of people died for what seems to be no reason.

Obama is surrounded by a bunch of yes-men. No one in his cabinet is challenging his actions.

Afghanistan could be a rich country. It has large mineral deposits, but it needs the world’s help to extract them sensibly.

Your smartphone might be a danger to your kids. They’re more likely to have accidents when you’re glued to it.

People will eat healthy if you make it convenient. That’s actually the hard part.

Surprising discoveries

You can now buy an exoskeleton in Japan. It helps elderly people pick up heavy objects, and costs ¥600,000 ($5,190).

School now comes to kids. In the Philippines, 30 children are being educated on a boat.

The textbooks say Osama Bin Laden was a hero. At least for these 5,000 students.

Exercise is great for your health. But not for your weight.

Cats will never be man’s best friend. Their genes won’t let them.

It’s easy to predict how a soccer player will perform. Just scan his face.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, revisionist history, and soccer portraits to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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