Singapore elections, new ancient humans, Apple’s feminism failure

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

What to watch for today

Singapore votes in its most competitive election ever. Prime minister Lee Hsien Loong’s Action Party is expected to win, as it has for the last 50 years. But rivals are making a stronger-than-ever showing, with bloggers and other citizens increasingly voicing concerns about Singapore’s opaque finances.

China’s tit-for-tat military drills near Taiwan. Beijing announced live-fire exercises in the Taiwan Strait, a day after the Taiwanese military rehearsed repelling a Chinese invasion. Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou wore a helmet and flak jacket to the staging area.

NATO talks about Syria, Russia, and Afghanistan. The alliance’s military committee convenes in Istanbul to discuss security in Europe, the Middle East, and Afghanistan. Turkey’s controversial dual offensive against ISIL and Kurdish separatists is sure to be a touchy subject.

Private equity calls on Avon. The direct-sales giant is fielding pitches from private equity firms Cerberus Capital Management and Platinum Equity, according to the Wall Street Journal, as it struggles to bounce back from years of sales declines.

While you were sleeping

Obama agreed to a tiny increase in the number of Syrian refugees. The United States is preparing to accept “at least” 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016, though that is only a slight increase from the 5,000 to 8,000 the US floated in August. Over the course of the civil war, which has driven out 4 million people, the US resettled a mere 1,434 Syrians.

Hillary Clinton is in trouble. Leftist Vermont senator Bernie Sanders has gained a lot of ground against the former secretary of state in pivotal early voting states. Democrats are worried about Clinton’s beleaguered candidacy, and are talking about drafting another big name as Plan B.

The US Federal Reserve got another reason not to raise rates. New data showed import and export prices both sank to their lowest levels since the financial crisis. Falling oil in particular is making inflation projections difficult, and will complicate the Fed’s decision on when to to raise interest rates.

Uber lost another labor battle. A California employment commission shot down the car service app giant’s appeal, confirming that a former driver was an employee rather than a contractor. That’s a significant loss as Uber fights a legal battle to defend its business model.

Scientists discovered a new kind of ancient human. Paleoanthropologist Lee Berger unearthed more than 1,500 bones belonging to 15 individuals belonging to Homo naledi at the Rising Star cave in South Africa. “Naledi” means “star” in a local language.

Quartz obsession interlude

Annalisa Merelli on how Apple almost went feminist, only to horribly fail. “Apple’s event may have indeed been the Silicon Valley equivalent of a feminist rally. … But then in Apple’s live demonstration, a young woman’s serious-looking expression was remade into a welcoming one. Spectators in the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium cheered as they watched it happen.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Workers should embrace the 9-to-5. It once symbolized drudgery, but now it’s a necessary boundary.

Rupert Murdoch will be great for National Geographic. Fox News is more likely to change than the venerable science magazine.

Seed banks are humanity’s insurance policy. Preserving samples of precious crops is crucial as the world faces climate change.

The world has seen this kind of refugee crisis before. After the Vietnam war, millions were saved by resettlement.

Black celebrities should embrace “the rant.” Artists like Kanye West deserve to be heard, no matter how the media distorts things.

Surprising discoveries

Elon Musk wants to nuke Mars. He argues it’s the fastest way to warm the planet and make it habitable by humans.

Cavemen ate oatmeal. So Paleo dieters can eat it, too.

The “mermaid economy” isn’t all starfish and seahorses. It revolves around birthday parties, high-tech costumes, and fitness classes.

Emails are more romantic than voicemails. When it comes to expressing certain feelings from afar, typing may be better.

Wales is a challenge for newscasters. But this guy nailed the pronunciation of the town of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, mermaid costumes, and romantic emails 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.