Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Obama’s tax showdown, Europe’s anti-terror brigade, the pope in Manila, truck mania

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What to watch for today

Obama proposes taxes on investing. Monday is a US public holiday but expect Republicans to outline their response after reports suggested (paywall) the president will call on the new Republican-led Congress to raise taxes on investments and inheritance, as well as expand tax breaks for middle-class families.

A global mobile payment alliance? The Wall Street Journal reported that Google is in talks to acquire Softcard, a mobile payments company co-owned by AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile USA. PayPal is also said to be interested. All of those companies are figuring out how best to respond to Apple Pay.

EU talks about Russia and terror. Foreign ministers from the bloc meet in Brussels to discuss Russia and Ukraine and and their response to the terror attacks in France, as well as other terrorist plots reported throughout Europe.

New forecasts for the developing world. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will update its economic forecasts for 35 countries that it invests in. The International Monetary Fund will give their own updated forecasts on Tuesday.

Over the weekend

Boko Haram spreads to Cameroon. Suspected fighters from the Nigerian Islamist group have kidnapped at least 60 people in its neighboring country, according to army and security officials. It has waged a long, often incredibly-violent campaign on the Nigerian government—drawing comparisons to the Islamic State.

Iran and the world dallied on its nuclear program. Deputy foreign ministers from Iran and Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US met in Geneva to toil over Iran’s nuclear program, after meetings between US secretary of state John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Jawed Zarif in Geneva and Paris. The Obama administration lobbied against imposing fresh sanctions.

Europe was on high alert. Suspected terrorists were arrested in Belgium, France, and Germany to guard against potential attacks, and troops were deployed alongside police in some European cities. There was no apparent connection between the new alleged plots and the earlier attacks in Paris.

The pope saw record crowds in Manila. Six million people attended the outdoor mass held by Pope Francis, a record for a papal event. About 5 million welcomed Pope John Paul II in Manila in 1995. The pope has stressed the limits of freedom of expression following the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

The ICC opened a probe in the Palestinian territories. The International Criminal Court is looking into war crimes (paywall) that may have taken place during violent flare-ups in the occupied territories—a decision that Israel has opposed.

Ireland has its first openly gay minister. The health minister, Leo Varadkar, has become the first member of any government to reveal that he is gay. “It’s not a secret,” he said. Varadkar is tipped as a possible future prime minister.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Philips spells out absolutely everything you need to understand what happened to the Swiss franc last week. “But if you’re looking for scary implications, here’s the biggest: The Swiss National Bank has effectively thrown in the towel in the fight against deflation, which is emerging as the major economic bogeyman of 2015.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The UK says it could be the richest country in the G7 by the 2030s. Others say this is pretty unlikely to happen.

The future of books looks a lot like the past. We’re still finding and reading in much the same ways.

Using flight booking data, you can guess which teams will be in the Super Bowl. One team’s fans are booking many more flights than the others.

Pirates are winning this year’s Oscars battle. An alarming number of in-theater movies have flooded onto torrent sites.

Surprising discoveries

New York has its first $100 million apartment. One building has the two biggest sales in the city’s history.

Cities on Earth evolve in the same way as galaxies in space. Researchers have developed a unifying theory of scaling laws for humans (which govern how we live in cities) based on cosmological models governing the spread of galaxies.

India’s finest film composer converted to Islam. He shed the faith he was born into and adopted a new one because “you only follow if it comes from your heart.”

West Ham is really cursed. The Premier League soccer club’s shirt sponsors keep going bust.

Americans are re-addicted to trucks. Large SUVs are enjoying a post-recession revival.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, a grand unifying theory of daily newsletters, and a West Ham kit with a solvent sponsor on the front to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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