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Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Al-Jazeera journalists freed, Obama’s budget battle begins, DSK in the dock, chocolate angst

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

What to watch for today

Markets react to a factory data dump. A flood of purchasing managers’ indexes will hit the wires throughout the day. Investors will be watching gauges of the mood among manufacturers in China and the euro zone most closely.

Important people meet each other. The new Greek finance minister visits his equivalents in the UK and Italy after spending time in France to push for debt relief. German chancellor Angela Merkel goes to Budapest to meet Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban. In Beijing, the foreign ministers of China, Russia, and India meet in the latest round of trilateral talks.

Obama pushes his 2016 budget. The US president submits his annual budget to Congress. In addition to a new tax on companies’ foreign earnings, reports suggest that Obama will seek to increase discretionary spending by as much as 7% above the limits imposed by a bipartisan budget deal in 2011.

D-S-K goes on T-R-I-A-L. The disgraced former head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, begins his defense with 13 others in Lille in northern France over their roles in an alleged prostitution ring.

Earnings above and below ground. In Europe, look for results from Irish low-cost airline Ryanair before the big report of the day comes from the US: ExxonMobil will reveal how much its profits have suffered from the plunging oil price, and might drop hints about where it sees energy markets going in the future.

Over the weekend

Jailed Al-Jazeera journalists were released by Egypt. After 400 days in captivity, Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy, and Baher Mohamed are reportedly in the process of being set free. They were controversially charged with endangering Egypt’s national security, among other offenses. Greste is already on his way to his native Australia, and dual Egyptian-Canadian national Fahmy is apparently being deported to Canada; the status of Mohamed, an Egyptian citizen, is not yet clear.

A top Chinese banker called it quits. Mao Xioafeng left his post as president at China Minsheng Bank, the country’s largest privately-owned lender. He resigned for what the company called “personal reasons,” likely stemming from an anti-corruption investigation into his ties to a former aide of China’s ex-president Hu Jintao.

ISIL killed a second Japanese hostage. The terror group released a video of the apparent beheading of Kenji Goto, a week after the killing of countryman Haruna Yukawa. Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, deploring the “utterly cruel and despicable act,” vowed to step up humanitarian aid to countries battling ISIL, which the group has cited as justification for the murders.

Thousands took to the streets in Hong Kong and Madrid. Pro-democracy protestors rallied in Hong Kong for the first time since the “Umbrella Movement” paralyzed the city-state late last year. Meanwhile, in Madrid, an anti-austerity rally organized by the upstart left-wing Podemos party attracted more than 100,000 to a “march for change.”

Greece changed its tune. After a torrid first week in charge, Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras struck a conciliatory tone, telling Bloomberg that the country will in fact repay its loans to the IMF and ECB. A deal with other euro zone creditors is coming soon, he added. German chancellor Angela Merkel has dismissed the idea of debt relief.

Ukrainian peace talks faltered as violence escalated. The death toll is mounting in eastern Ukraine, amid a renewed offensive by pro-Russian rebels, according to Reuters. Weekend talks in Minsk between representatives from Ukraine, separatist groups, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe broke down, with no agreement on revising the (frequently-violated) terms of the current ceasefire.

Quartz obsession interlude

Svati Kirsten Narula on how Cadbury lost the right to sell its own chocolate in the US. “Considering Hershey has owned the Cadbury brand in the US since 1988, some might say that stateside importers of the British Cadbury chocolates—and their customers—are lucky to have been able to skirt the legal consequences of the official arrangement for as long as they did.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Americans are too blinded by fandom to save football from itself. What if the NFL’s dominance is just a mirage?

Genetic modification is a natural solution to farming’s problems. It was never natural, anyway.

There is no such thing as Indian food. So says a Jaipur-born, Michelin-starred chef in New York.

Lossless music is the next big thing in streaming music. Even Jay Z wants to sell you high-quality audio now.

Surprising discoveries

Flu deaths rise during big sporting events. So does spousal abuse.

How to clean out your closet, Japanese-style. Introducing the KonMari method.

A bike map of New York for your brain. It pinpoints both relaxing and attention-demanding routes.

Someone published every draft of their novel simultaneously. It used the programmer’s favorite tool, GitHub.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, illicit British chocolates, and brainwave bike maps to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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