Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Big oil and big drugs, Romania’s next president, more bank fraud, Russia’s Wikipedia

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What to watch for today

Hong Kong attempts to move the Movement. Police say they’ve been told to enforce a court order to clear the streets of Umbrella Movement protestors blocking access to the CITIC Tower in Admiralty. Those who don’t comply will be arrested.

Japan delays next year’s tax hike. After the world’s third largest economy unexpectedly entered a recession, prime minister Shinzo Abe is expected to announce that he’ll delay by at least 18 months a plan to raise the sales tax to 10%. It was due to rise in October 2015.

Indonesians deal with pricier gasoline. The government subsidy on gasoline was cut as of midnight Monday (paywall), driving prices up from 6,500 rupiah per liter to 8,500 rupiah ($0.69) per liter. South East Asia’s largest economy will have almost an extra $13 billion on its books next year because of the move.

Negotiations with Iran stumble on. Russia doesn’t think the Iranians will come to an agreement over its nuclear program by the Nov. 24 deadline. Neither does Obama’s former chief advisor on Iran. Yet talks continue today in Vienna between Iran and six world powers.

Keystone XL hits the US Senate. The House of Representatives approved a bill last Friday to build a controversial oil pipeline meant to move tar-sands oil from Canada to the United States. Today it hits the upper house. President Barack Obama is expected to veto it (paywall) when it reaches his desk.

While you were sleeping

An upset in Romania’s presidential election. In a surprise victory, the ethnic German Klaus Iohannis took 54.5% of the vote. Many were expecting prime minister Victor Ponta to win, but Romanian expats throughout Europe queued at their local embassies to elect Iohannis, who had promised to eliminate corruption. “Another kind of Romania is beginning,” he said.

Belgium accused HSBC of abetting tax fraud. Authorities in Brussels say over 1,000 wealthy Belgians used the bank to move billions of dollars to tax havens in Panama and the Virgin Islands. Prosecutors say HSBC “knowingly eased and promoted fiscal fraud,” which wouldn’t be a first: The bank was slapped with a $1.92 billion fine in 2012 for helping Mexican drug cartels launder money.

A doctor died from Ebola in Nebraska. Martin Salia was being treated at an Omaha hospital after he arrived in the US on Saturday from Sierra Leone, where he was treating Ebola patients. Salia is the second person to die on US soil from the disease, while the death toll in West Africa stands at over 5,000.

Actavis bought Allergan for $66 billion. Allergan—the US firm known for making Botox—will soon become a part of Dublin-based Actavis, and obtain a lower corporate tax rate in the process. The $66-billion cash-and-stock deal still needs to be approved by regulators, but Valeant, which had been pursuing Allergan for seven months, said it was giving up the chase.

Halliburton bought Baker Hughes for about $35 billion. The deal between the world’s second- and third-largest oil services firms, which broke a standoff after negotiations stalled last week, now must overcome regulatory hurdles, else Halliburton faces a $3.5 billion break-up fee. The combined company will dominate the fracking market that’s driving the US oil and gas production boom.

Quartz obsession interlude

Steve LeVine explains Iran’s quandary a week ahead of its nuclear deadline. “If Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei follows Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s playbook, he will not budge and will take the risk of simply driving his car (the Iranian economy) off the cliff (in the “acrimonious collapse” scenario). If he does that, it will be under the presumption that time will eventually force the West to relent on sanctions and reduce its demands for Iranian nuclear concessions.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Egypt is becoming Syria. The Egyptian state’s paranoia and repression are approaching the levels of Syria in the old days of the Assad regime.

Putin knows Western countries don’t want to confront him. Instead, they prefer to interpret his actions as reasonable and logical when they’re anything but.

Shinzo Abe needs to do something on the economy. He’s already done things—controversial things—on just about every other issue.

California needs to stop exporting almonds. They use far too much of the state’s scarce water, and 70% of them are sent abroad.

The web is dying, argues Christopher Mims at the WSJ (paywall). Not really, says our own Zachary Seward.

Surprising discoveries

Computer servers put out a ton of heat. So why not install one in your home?

Russia is going to create its own Wikipedia. Of course, it will be more “detailed and reliable” than the original.

Tobacco makes you talented. It must be true: China’s state tobacco company is putting ads on school gates saying so.

Teach your kids to swim. Drowning killed more under-15s in 2012 than either measles or tuberculosis.

Being mean makes you sound smarter. Research suggests we may have something called negativity bias.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, questionable Wikipedia edits, and school-friendly tobacco ads to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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