Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Toyota’s new Prius, Amazon’s $50 tablet, fanny packs

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

What to watch for today

Toyota rolls out its new Prius. The photos and specs already have been leaked, but the Japanese automaker is officially unveiling the hybrid car in Las Vegas. The 2016 Prius, the first car built using Toyota’s new factory production system, is supposed to have 10% greater fuel efficiency than the previous model.

Puerto Rico reveals its debt restructuring plan. The US territory, which defaulted on a payment due in August, is expected to announce a full fiscal reform plan following last week’s tropical storm-related delays. In June, governor Alejandro García Padilla called the island’s $72 billion of debt “unpayable.”

Shinzo Abe (likely) secures his second term as Japan’s prime minister. The Liberal Democratic Party’s upcoming election will be an uncontested race unless challenger Seiko Noda gathers enough signatures to register today. LDP leaders have reportedly been discouraging Noda, which means Abe is likely to be the only registered candidate—and one of Japan’s longest-serving PMs since World War II.

American lawmakers go back to work. After its annual summer recess, the US Congress is back in session—but perhaps not for long. If Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on funding for Planned Parenthood and other spending matters before Oct. 1, the federal government may shut down.

While you were sleeping

A comedian won the first round of presidential elections in Guatemala. Nearly 80% of the corruption-weary electorate went to the polls. Actor and television host Jimmy Morales led the field but did not win a majority, and will have to contend with either conservative businessman Manuel Baldizon or ex-first lady Sandra Torres in a run-off election in October.

Open-outcry trading at the LME got quieter. JPMorgan Chase decamped from the floor of the London Metal Exchange and now will facilitate all its trades there electronically. The move leaves just nine firms on the LME floor—and opens the possibility of an Asian firm joining the mix.

The UN’s nuclear energy board sat down for a five-day meeting in Vienna. The International Atomic Energy Agency has gathered to discuss the Iran nuclear deal and the latest analyses of Japan’s Fukushima disaster. The agency’s director general started by telling his colleagues that North Korea appears to be renovating its nuclear facilities.

The dentist who killed Cecil the Lion came out of hiding. American Walter Palmer has kept a low profile since a media storm six weeks ago prompted him to temporarily shut down his dental practice, which was besieged by angry critics decrying his trophy kill of a beloved Zimbabwean lion. In an interview with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Palmer reaffirmed his belief that he had participated in a legal hunt and said he’s returning to work this week.

Amazon was reported to be readying a $50 tablet. The more the company brings down the price, the less it looks like a direct competitor to the Apple iPad.

Quartz obsession interlude

Steve Mollman on how Indonesia’s palm oil industry is smoking out its neighbors. “It’s dry season in Indonesia, which in some parts means it’s time to clear more land for palm oil plantations—with fire. In recent days, most of Sumatra (about double the size of Great Britain) was covered in a stifling layer of smoke so large it affected neighboring Singapore and parts of Malaysia, too.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

It’s time for fanny packs to come back. They’re not ugly, they’re immensely practical.

Hollywood needs to get friendly with China, but it won’t be easy. Studios keep stumbling and deals keep crumbling in Beijing.

The Arctic’s ice may be melting, but extracting its oil isn’t getting any easier. The rewards of drilling far down while up north aren’t so rich.

Asking for advice at work makes you look smarter. But only if you do it right.

First-come, first-served queues are a waste of time. They’re more fair, but they’re inefficient.

Surprising discoveries

The annual Burning Man festival generates seismic vibrations. The energy of all those people dancing in the desert could be measured on the Richter scale.

An anonymous photographer is mocking modern notions of authenticity—with a Barbie doll. This satirical Instagram account highlights how fake hashtagged lives can be.

The awe of space travel is life-changing for astronauts who experience it. And there’s evidence that the “overview effect” can be replicated here on Earth.

American agricultural fairs have more stuffed animals than usual this year. Thanks to bird flu, young poultry farmers can only bring taxidermied or toy chickens to the fair.

There’s more to Stonehenge than meets the eye. Ground-penetrating radar reveals an even larger stone monument hidden nearby.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, hipster Barbies, and fake chickens to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

Sign up for the Quartz Daily Brief here, tailored for morning delivery in Asia, Europe & Africa, and the Americas.