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Quartz Daily Brief – Americas Edition – Goldman Sachs, Nokia-RIM spat, tobacco “lies”, beaver moon

By Kevin J. Delaney
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Good morning Quartz readers in the Americas!

What to watch for today: 

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 make their money in the future.

Tobacco firms may start making costly apologies for “lying.” A US judge has ruled the cigarette industry “deliberately deceived” the public for decades. Major tobacco companies must now spend their own money on advertisements set to run for two years admitting they lied, the ruling said. The decision may lead to more litigation if tobacco firms decide to appeal.

The penumbral eclipse of the beaver moon. This is not a lyric from the Beatles’ psychedelic phase, but an actual event set for the small hours of this morning in the US. The “beaver moon” is the smallest full moon of the year, or at least it appears that way from Earth. It is set to be obscured by a penumbral eclipse, which will make it appear veiled or shadowed. The eclipse will happen anytime from 4:15am PST to 6.15am PST, which means most New Yorkers won’t see it, but Los Angeles residents will if they get up early.

While you were sleeping:

Nokia scored a RIM legal victory. It is a bit like a veterans’ tennis match. The former champion of mobile phones (remember the 1990s?) has battled the former champion of portable emailing devices and won. Nokia scored its victory in an arbitration case against BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) over use of its patents related to wireless local access network (WLAN) technology, the Finnish company said. Nokia will welcome the royalty income, which analysts say could be significant.

Turkish Airlines delighted the aviation industry with plans to order 100 planes. The outlook is bright at the national flag carrier, which flies to more countries than any other airline and whose stock has doubled this year. It is a good time for Turkish state-backed companies to borrow money. The nation’s debt rating was recently upgraded from junk status by Fitch, one of the world’s three major credit ratings agencies. (Some analysts think the other two may follow shortly.)

Cairo crisis continued. Tens of thousands of protestors swarmed the Egyptian capital to continue voicing their opposition to President Morsi’s decision to grant himself sweeping new powers. Morsi has likely misjudged the people’s tolerance for authoritarian rule.

A Singaporean company launched a 45-page defense against a short seller. Olam International, a commodities firm part-owned by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek, published an extremely lengthy rebuttal of claims made by short seller Muddy Waters questioning its accounting practices. Muddy Waters last year published detailed fraud accusations against the now discredited Canadian-Chinese company Sino-Forest, which filed for bankruptcy protection in March.

A French court delayed Strauss-Kahn’s “prostitution ring” ruling. In another unsavory case to ensnare the former IMF chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn stands accused of being involved in a prostitution ring. A court in Northern France that is set to pass judgment on the case said it would delay its ruling until December 19. Lawyers representing Strauss Kahn have said the investigation was impartial and accused the judges involved of leaking information to the media.

Quartz obsession interlude: 

Tim Fernholz on why America is recovering and why European economies are not. This: “reflects very different attitudes toward macroeconomic management in America and Europe.While many countries in Europe have either sought austerity or had it forced upon them, the United States has stubbornly kept both its fiscal and its monetary policy fairly loose. The result has been steady if uninspiring growth.” Read more here.

Matters of debate:

“Digitally backward” Australian retailers will lose Christmas sales. Consumers are looking for online deals from overseas.

Successful companies empower younger workers. Generation Y are creative, emotive, and often care more about public recognition and feedback than they do about their salaries and stock options.

Greece 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.

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.

Surprising discoveries:

More people are sending text messages in their sleepThat’s one more reason to stop taking the iPhone or Blackberry to bed.

Chinese hackers may have spent three years attacking a small, family-owned California company. Allegedly the cyber intimidation by a Chinese group linked to the country’s military began after the little company complained China had appropriated its software.

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

Kiwis love hobbits. Masses of New Zealanders have been dressing up as the little hairy folk to celebrate the premiere of the first of the three Lord of the Rings prequels being screened in Wellington. The film’s stars even got a traditional Maori welcome (video).

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, queries, feedback, and snaps of the penumbral eclipse to or hit “Reply” to this email.

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