Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Sydney hostage crisis, Abe’s election win, Sony scolds reporters, China’s pain gun

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What to watch for today

David Cameron’s plan to slash spending. The UK prime minister has promised a budget surplus by fiscal 2018, and will argue that his plan to achieve it without raising taxes (paywall) is both “sensible and reasonable.”

The economic data download. The US home builder confidence index is due, and US industrial production data is released by the Federal Reserve. Elsewhere, the markets will digest Israeli inflation, Turkish unemployment, and more data on UK house prices.

Powerful people powwow. EU foreign ministers convene to discuss the ongoing conflict with ISIL and the disintegrating Libyan state, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini meets with Ukraine prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and UK chancellor George Osborne speaks at the Economic Club of New York.

Over the weekend

A hostage crisis in Sydney. At least one gunmen has taken as many as 40 people hostage in a Lindt chocolate cafe in Australia’s biggest city. Two hostages were forced to hold a black flag with Arabic script up to the window; three others managed to flee from the site. Here’s how to follow the situation in real time.

Hong Kong police dismantled the Umbrella Movement’s last outpost. Authorities evicted pro-democracy protesters from their remaining protest site in Causeway Bay, removing tents and barricades and arresting over a dozen demonstrators. Protest groups are proposing a new round of civil disobedience now that their encampments are gone.

Shinzo Abe was reelected as Japan’s prime minister. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party won 325 of 475 seats after an election that the LDP described as a mandate over Abe’s economic reforms. The outcome was assured from the start; the opposition fielded only 198 candidates.

Sony Pictures tried to stop the presses. The studio sent letters to Bloomberg and the New York Times requesting they stop reporting on the contents of the company’s hacked computers. The script for the next James Bond film was among the leaked documents.

Climate change negotiators reached a deal. Environment ministers in Lima announced that all countries would be required to cut greenhouse gas emissions, including fast-growing, heavy-polluting developing economies. But negotiators said the agreement was not sufficient, and postponed the most contentious issues until next year’s UN conference in Paris.

Haiti’s PM called it quits. Laurent Lamothe resigned after violent demonstrations over delayed elections. Protestors want president Michel Martelly to go as well, but unless elections are scheduled, Martelly will be able to rule by decree when parliament’s term expires in January.

The year’s largest US private equity deal. A consortium led by London-based private equity firm BC Partners agreed to buy PetSmart in an $8.7 billion deal, including debt. Activists had been pressuring the retailer to sell itself as competition ramped up from and other retailers.

Quartz obsession interlude

Kabir Chibber compares the style guides of The Economist and Bloomberg News. “Somewhere in the 1970s, when two Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, helped make ‘investigative journalism’ a romantic, holy endeavour, the news profession lost a great deal of sense.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Germany’s corporate gender quotas won’t work. They failed in Norway, and weren’t even needed in Denmark.

Wanna learn how to run a business? Try working in a McDonald’s.

Your opinion on CIA torture is irrelevant. Dick Cheney says he would do it again “in a minute.”

The French are obsessed with their national decline. Le Suicide Français” is the latest societal indictment.

Mobile tech is erasing the rhythms of life. People are foregoing planned lifestyles for bouts of spontaneity.

Surprising discoveries

Washington, DC is building its own taxi app. Instead of banning Uber, the city will compete with it.

New York police get sued 10 times a day. The highest number of lawsuits per resident was in the Bronx.

China has a new microwave-powered pain gun. It’s supposed to be mounted on navy ships.

Saturday was an auspicious day for weddings. 12/13/14 was the last so-called sequential calendar date for 20 years.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, municipal taxi apps, and auspicious wedding days to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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