Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Japan delays tax, Hong Kong barricades dismantled, Ferguson’s emergency, China’s house prices, Russia’s Wikipedia

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What to watch for today

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 a plan to raise the sales tax next year by at least 18 months.

Indonesians deal with pricier gasoline. The government subsidy on gasoline was cut as of midnight Monday (paywall), driving prices up from 6,500 rupiah ($0.54) per liter to 8,500 rupiah per liter. Southeast Asia’s largest economy will reap an extra $13 billion in taxes next year because of the move.

Negotiations with Iran stumble on. Talks continue in Vienna between Iran and six world powers, though the Russians and Obama’s former chief advisor on Iran don’t think an agreement can be reached by the Nov. 24 deadline.

Will the US scupper another tax-inversion deal? Medtronic, the world’s largest standalone medical device maker, will announce fiscal second-quarter results, but investors will be listening for whether it’s getting cold feet (paywall) over its $43 billion buyout of Ireland’s Covidien, as a means of reducing its US tax rate.

While you were sleeping

Hong Kong police dismantled a pro-democracy protest site. Bailiffs, police, and workers began removing barricades around the Citic Tower in Admiralty, which is at the center of the main pro-democracy protest that has stood for more than seven weeks. Protest leaders, who voluntarily left the area, said they would not allow the city’s three main protest sites to be fully dismantled.

Hasbro canceled merger talks with DreamWorks Animation. The toymaker’s board ended negotiations after less than a week, sources told Reuters. Hasbro never made an official bid for the studio, but its pull-out caused a 14% drop in DreamWorks shares—the largest single-day fall since the company went public in 2004.

Missouri declared an emergency in Ferguson. Governor Jay Nixon called in the National Guard ahead of a grand jury decision on the fatal shooting of a black teenager by a white police officer. Major protests are expected if the police officer is not charged with a crime.

China’s property prices sank further. Official figures for October showed house prices dropped 2.6% on the year, compared with a 1.3% decline (paywall) in September. Moodys predicts property values will continue to decline throughout 2015 as developers offer discounts to combat oversupply.

A solar power company bet on the wind. Missouri-based solar panel parts maker SunEdison and its partially-owned subsidiary Terraform Power agreed to pay $2.4 billion for privately-held First Wind, creating the world’s largest renewable energy developer (paywall). SunEdison vowed to continue growth despite the expiration of US clean energy tax credits.

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

Amazon should spin off its cloud computing unit… It’s an unprofitable part of the business that could survive on its own.

…And it shouldn’t donate phones to “help” West Africa’s Ebola crisis. It’s a useless distraction from a real problem.

Airline fuel surcharges have no relation to the cost of fuel. Fees will never go down while customer demand is high.

Almonds are sucking California dry. They use far more water than other crops, and are mostly sent abroad.

The web is dying, argues Christopher Mims at the WSJ (paywall). Actually, it’s not, counters Quartz’s Zachary Seward.

Surprising discoveries

Scientists are resurrecting a wooly mammoth. They plan to clone a 40,000-year-old frozen specimen named “Buttercup.” 

A worm’s mind has been uploaded into a Lego body. But is it alive?

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

Uber gets über-creepy. An executive suggested digging up dirt on unfriendly journalists, including peeks into their Uber travel logs.

Being mean makes you sound smarter. Humans are susceptible to “negativity bias.”

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, lego worms, and Russian Wikipedia entries to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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