Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Syriza re-elected, Pope Francis in Cuba, humming giraffes

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

What to watch for today

Talks to save Northern Ireland’s government. With a power-sharing arrangement between unionist and nationalist parties in danger of collapsing, Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party will meet for talks in Stormont. A murder last month linked to the IRA has led to a political crisis in the British province, with first minister Peter Robinson stepping down, and taking ministers with him, 10 days ago. 

Russia and Israel discuss Syria.

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu travels to Moscow to talk to president Vladimir Putin about Russia’s

troop deployment in Syria

, and the threat he says Israel faces from the weaponry being transferred there from Russia.

Peace on Earth—or at least the promotion of it. The world is not particularly peaceful at the moment, but the UN is observing its international day of peace and calling for 24 hours of global ceasefire.

Over the weekend

Greek voters re-elected Syriza. Prime minister Alexis Tsipras’s party won the country’s fifth election in six years, after Tsipras resigned to seek a new mandate to lead. Syriza got that mandate, but a record-low turnout suggests a fair bit of apathy.

Pope Francis arrived in Cuba. He praised the nation for repairing diplomatic ties with the US but called upon it to “open itself to the world.” He had previously called for the end to Cuba’s communist government and argued for greater religious freedom.

Novelist Jackie Collins died. The writer, who was 77, had kept her breast cancer diagnosis secret from all but her closest family for more than six years. Collins authored 32 racy “bonkbuster” novels, all of which appeared on the New York Times bestseller list.

The US said it will increase the number of refugees it accepts. The US will allow in 85,000 people next year and 100,000 in 2017, both up from this year’s limit of 70,000. Announcing the new numbers, secretary of state John Kerry blamed security checks and a lack of funding from Congress for not making the number higher.

Japan’s rugby team had a “miraculous” win. The team, which had never beaten a southern hemisphere side before, defeated two-time World Cup champions South Africa in a spectacular upset.

Quartz obsession interlude

Ana Campoy on a campaign to rescue dying accent marks on the Internet. “For better or for worse, languages across the world are being shaped—and truncated—by internet users who want to get their message across as quickly and easily as possible. In Spanish, users replace ‘qué’ (what) with ‘q,’ while the word ‘más’ (more) is often reduced to a simple ‘+.’ But a few defenders of the Spanish language are now using the internet as a way to fight back.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The economic policies driven by Silicon Valley could destroy social democracy. Tech firms like Uber could transform employment law and create a new economic order.

Japan is dumbing down its universities. Dozens of public schools are no longer teaching law, the humanities, and social sciences.

Don’t believe the gloom over China’s economy. The situation is mixed, but it’s not disastrous.

Clients, not prostitutes, should be locked up. Countries ought to learn from the Swedish model.

Only the childless can keep up in the constantly competitive world of work. That harms men as well as women (paywall).

Surprising discoveries

Neuroscience has started to learn from Buddhism. Researchers now accept that the self is in a constant state of flux, and that cognitive faculties can be trained through meditation.

Giraffes make a distinctive sound. They hum in the evenings at a frequency too low for humans to hear.

The off-the-shoulder trend has been carefully planned. High-end fashion designers, high-street imitators, trend forecasters, stylish influencers, and the media all featured the latest must-have item.

Some boys in the Dominican Republic don’t grow a penis until they are 12. About one in 90 boys in one town look female when born, but get a surge of testosterone at puberty

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, accent marks, and off-the-shoulder tops 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.