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Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Buffett buys batteries, Amazon quells Hachette, eco-friendly drones, super lettuce

By Stefan Constantinescu

What to watch for today

Congress guns for a vote on Keystone XL. An anonymous Republican aide told Bloomberg the US House of Representatives may vote on a bill to move forward with the pipeline—meant to transport energy-intensive tar sands oil—with the goal of passing the bill into law before a new Congress takes office in January.

Europe wallows in monotony. The EU—and most importantly Germany—publish third-quarter GDP data, expected to come in at 0.2%. Germany needs a positive GDP to avoid dipping into recession.

Americans cling to retail therapy. US retail sales for October are slated to rise thanks in part to cheap gas prices fueling early holiday spending, after sales decreased by 0.3% in September.

Russia pushes Ukraine’s buttons. A spokesperson for Moscow’s foreign ministry said 82 aid trucks will cross the Russian border into Ukraine, amid NATO reports of Russian tanks and combat troops moving into the country. Both countries claim the other is breaking their ceasefire agreement.

While you were sleeping

Warren Buffett took Duracell off P&G’s hands. Berkshire Hathaway will fork over $4.7 billion to buy the battery company from Procter & Gamble, as the household products maker aims to shed slower-growing brands. P&G agreed to inject $1.8 billion in cash into Duracell before the deal’s close. Bucking a global shift away from disposable batteries, Buffet said he has “always been impressed by Duracell.”

Warner Music partnered with Tencent to distribute music in China. The company behind the popular chat application WeChat—which boasts 468 million mobile active users—will distribute Warner Music Group’s vast catalog and manage new releases to “all legitimate audio sources” in mainland China. Record labels hope such deals will boost the mere 1% of global sales that came from China in 2013 (paywall), amid rampant piracy.

Amazon and Hachette put down their swords. The pricing war between the two companies over electronic and print books is over, after striking a confidential multi-year agreement offering the publisher incentives to lower book prices. In a bid to persuade the ”Big Five” publisher to price all ebooks at $9.99 and fork over a bigger share of sales, Amazon had removed pre-orders for Hachette books and halted the delivery on some titles.

Facebook shortened its terms of service by 70%. The social networking giant wants people to actually read them instead of just clicking ”Agree,” following a slew of complaints and lawsuits from users about privacy concerns. ”Our goal is to make the information about Facebook as clear as possible,” said Facebook’s chief privacy officer (paywall).

Wal-Mart beat the Street. In Wal-Mart’s quarterly earnings, same-store sales rose at US stores for the first time in roughly two years thanks in part to low fuel prices, back-to-school shopping, and Halloween. The company is banking big on Black Friday (paywall), but continues to struggle with squaring its supercenter-heavy business with e-commerce growth.

Quartz obsession interlude

Dan Frommer on Toshiba’s lettuce venture. “Why plant lettuce in a clean room? The obvious answer: Because it’s clean. Everything is tightly controlled, including air pressure, temperature, lighting, bacteria, and dust. The result is a crop that doesn’t need pesticides, doesn’t have bugs, and doesn’t need washing.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The second Cold War has begun. Even Mikhail Gorbachev is worried about Putin.

Germany needs to loosen up. Its self-imposed austerity is rocking the global economy.

Women want male prostitutes. Male prostitution happens to be ticking up as women rise in the job market.

American food workers need better legal protections. Otherwise everyone gets sick (paywall).

Surprising discoveries

NASA created an environmentally-friendly drone. If it crashes, the fungus it’s made out of continues the circle of life.

Samsung maxed out on bling. The electronics company plated the back of a 78-inch TV in gold, because why not.

The Godfather has an offer you can’t refuse. You can own his house—featured in the 1972 film—for $2.89 million.

Tell your grandparents to stop taking folic acid and vitamin B12. The research is in, and it doesn’t affect dementia—at all.

The art world is losing its mind. Italian performance artist Sven Sachsalber is going to spend two days in a museum in Paris trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, gold-plated electronics, and stray needles to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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