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Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—A colony on Mars, the US fiscal cliff, and the lottery

By Lily Kuo
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Good morning Quartz readers in Asia!

What to watch for today: 

More protests in Bangladesh, more pressure on retailers. The world’s second largest clothes exporter saw another day of protests as Bangladeshis mourned the deaths of more than 150 workers killed in an industrial fire over the weekend. Labor rights activists are pressuring major clothing retailers to require better work conditions.

Whose side will Goldman Sachs be on? Lloyd Blankfein, the bank’s CEO, is meeting  President Barack Obama to talk about the fiscal cliff. The White House is campaigning for support from Blankfein and other business leaders in pressuring the US Congress to extend tax cuts for middle-class Americans while ending them for the wealthier.

SAC tries to explain itself. The $14 billion hedge fund will reportedly hold a conference call with investors to discuss the arrest of one of its portfolio managers last week on an insider-trading charge.

US legislators debate “internet fairness”. The music industry is preparing to face off against music-streaming services such as Pandora over a bill that would lower the royalties streaming sites have to pay to music labels, an issue that could do a lot to determine how musicians in future make their money.

While you were sleeping:

The US decided not to call China a currency manipulator after all. The US Treasury said the renminbi is still undervalued, but that China has allowed its currency to appreciate 9.7% since 2010 and is intervening less in its exchange markets. However, the US State Department did say it would raise the issue of China’s new passports, which make territorial claims over the South China Sea, with officials.

The UK economy got a boost from the Olympics, but could falter again. Revised figures confirm that UK GDP rose 1% in the third quarter, lifting the economy out of recession. The revival was due to unusually strong consumer spending, buoyed by the Olympic Games. But analysts warned the upturn could be temporary.

US stocks fell as investors worried about the impact of the US fiscal cliff to the world economy. White House and congressional leaders continue to negotiate this week over the automatic tax increases and spending cuts. Surprisingly businesses seem less scared.

Apple’s iPhone outsold Android phones in the US. The spike in iPhone sales for the latest quarter is related to the release of the iPhone 5; normally, Android-based phones sell more. But Quartz’s Christopher Mims argues that this could be the last time Apple phones outpace those based on Google’s operating system.

Tajikistan de-friends Facebook. The country’s office of telecommunications said it ordered the social media site blocked because of “slanderous” content about President Emomali Rakhmon.

Quartz obsession interlude: 

Tim Fernholz on Obama’s plan to finance at least $6 billion in energy-related exports to Asian countries: “President Obama has insisted since his first term that the US is now a Pacific power, seeking deeper ties with the region’s fast-growing markets while keeping a wary eye on the balance of power with China. But if you examine his trip to the region right after his re-election, what America’s “pivot to Asia” provides is an opportunity for the Obama team to do abroad what it can’t do at home—finance investments that benefit US jobs.” Read more here.

Matters of debate:

Greece’s got its aid package, but that doesn’t mean it’s all clear sailing. “European finance ministers now have to return to their home countries to get approval to make the next round of dispersals to Greece,” writes Peter Tchir.

Aung San Suu Kyi is a politician now, not an activist, and that means she has to choose her sides carefully.

It’s time to start a colony on Mars. Elon Musk, CEO of the spaceflight company SpaceX, says it would be the beginning of a “self-sustaining civilization.” He’s offering to help by taking explorers to the planet for a mere $500,000 a trip.

Democrats and Republicans should adopt each others’ tax plans. Or better still, stop talking about income taxes altogether, which are largely irrelevant to the debate about ending the deficit.

Surprising discoveries:

Silicon Valley is ageist. (Another one for “unsurprising discoveries.”)

Wearing “V for Vendetta” masks, the symbol of international hacker collective Anonymous, is now illegal in Dubai.

The US fiscal cliff ruins even the lottery. The $500 million Powerball lottery prize could be dented by tax increases. On the other hand, now is your best chance of winning it.

Also today:

New home sales are out in the US, a measure of the economy’s recovery. Data from Thailand on manufacturing production for October. And after sunset, those in the eastern hemisphere will be able to see a penumbral eclipse, when the moon slides through the earth’s outer shadow.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, queries, feedback, and coordinates for undiscovered islands to  or hit “Reply” to this email.

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