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Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Nobel prizes, oil prices hit, healthy Roman teeth

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

What to watch for today

The Nobel prize in medicine is awarded. A Thomson Reuters analysis of possible contenders includes researchers studying microbes in the human gut and a protein mechanism behind the death of cells. Other Nobel prizes will be announced this week and next.

Oil prices take another hit. In its most aggressive effort to grab and hold market share since the price plunge began 16 months ago, Saudi Aramco has dropped its prices to customers by $2 a barrel. Look for a blow to Brent benchmark prices, which have already been trading below $50 a barrel.

Britain’s Conservative party sets out its agenda. The second day of the annual party conference, which is aiming to brand the Conservatives as a “party of working people,” will include a speech from chancellor George Osborne, its possible future leader. So far, several MPs used their speeches to warn against socialist Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The US Supreme Court starts a new term. The court is expected to consider cases involving affirmative action, labor unions, class-action suits, abortion, and the death penalty, with rulings coming in June 2016.

Over the weekend

A dozen Pacific nations neared a deal on a major trade pact. Negotiators reported breakthroughs on key issues blocking agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership anchored by the US and Japan and including countries representing two-fifths of the world’s economy.

A US airstrike hit a charity-run hospital in Afghanistan—killing doctors and patients. Médecins Sans Frontières said 22 people were killed, and called the US bombing a war crime.

Floods ravaged the French Riviera. Storms and high waters hit the Mediterranean coastal area, killing 16 people, and washing out many towns in the southeast of the country. French president Francois Hollande sent a message of solidarity and thanks to rescue workers over Twitter.

Pope Francis reiterated Catholic church opposition to same-sex marriage. His remarks came during a mass Sunday; the Vatican also dismissed from his posting a priest who had come out as gay. Here’s a review of the pope’s comments on gay rights.

Portugal’s center-right government likely won re-election. Exit polls suggested a victory for the governing coalition, which has deployed austerity policies in the wake of a bailout of the country.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on why giving money to random entrepreneurs might be the best way for developing countries to create jobs. “In 2011, then-Nigerian finance minister Ngoze Okonjo-Iweala launched a business plan competition in cooperation with the World Bank that would award $58 million in grants to 1,200 entrepreneurs, who could use the money to start a new business or expand an existing one. Now a new study of this program led Columbia University political scientist Chris Blattman to wonder if this scheme was ‘the most effective development program in history.'” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Stock-market performance will be weak for at least 10 more years. We’re still in the middle of a long bear market because equities are so overvalued by historical standards.

The US is engaged in a proxy war with Russia in Syria. And the flood of Syrian refugees to Europe is a direct result of failed American policy.

Tim Cook’s Apple has forced the rest of the tech world to adjust to it. Even enterprise-technology companies orbit Apple now.

The higher your credit score, the higher your chances of a lasting relationship. Creditworthiness is a proxy for “an individual’s general trustworthiness and commitment to non-debt obligations.”

Surprising discoveries

An artist converted an Ikea bookcase into a coffin. Because who doesn’t have an extra Billy shelving unit hanging around.

Ancient Romans had no need for dentists. That’s thanks to a diet that was low in sugar.

Subtle rule changes are having an impact on American football strategy. There are now more missed extra-point kicks than in recent memory.

Scientists are working on an “exercise pill.” They’re studying how to replicate molecular reactions to exercise, so you’ll never have to work out again.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Nobel prize medals, Billy bookcase hacks, and exercise replacements to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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