Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Trans-Pacific trade pact, Nobel Prizes, fishing for compliments

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What to watch for today

Protesters meet with Nepal’s government after deadly unrest. The United Democratic Madhesi Front will sit down with state leaders, after recent demonstrations against Nepal’s new constitution left 45 dead. The group, which has close ties to India, has also been blocking the flow of vital supplies into the country.

Microsoft unveils a new line of Windows 10 devices. The software company is expected to announce new Surface tablets and Lumia phones at an event in New York. Other new products will be revealed throughout the week.

US commerce secretary Penny Pritzker visits Cuba. The secretary will meet with Cuban officials to discuss loosening US restrictions on travel and business between the two nations. She is the second member of president Obama’s cabinet to travel to Cuba since diplomatic relations resumed last year.

PepsiCo, KFC, and Pizza Hut announce third quarter earnings. Pepsi’s strong sales in developing markets like China and Latin America are expected to make up for its sluggishness in the US. Investors will also look to KFC and Pizza Hut’s numbers in China for signs of growth after a less-than-exciting first quarter.

McDonald’s launches all-day breakfast. Now customers can order breakfast items throughout the day at 14,000 restaurants in the US.

While you were sleeping

Negotiators agreed on a landmark trans-Pacific trade deal. Twelve countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership, including the US, Japan, Vietnam, Chile, Mexico, and Australia, reached a deal after a marathon week of negotiations. The deal is expected to boost economic growth, but has also been criticized for empowering multinational corporations at the expense of consumers.

The Nobel Prize in medicine went to three scientists from China, Ireland, and Japan. All three researchers extracted naturally occurring chemicals to create crucial treatments for common diseases. Youyou Tu was awarded for her discovery of an herbal compound that fights malaria, sharing the prize with William Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura, for their work on a drug that kills roundworm parasites.

BP finalized its $20.8 billion Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement with the US government. Once approved by a judge, this deal will settle all civil claims the oil and gas company faces from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It will also resolve natural resources damages claims and allocate $8.8 billion to continued cleanup and restoration initiatives on the Gulf coast of the US.

American Apparel filed for bankruptcy. The Los Angeles-based clothing company has turned a quarterly profit only once in the past five years. An agreement with creditors will cut the company’s debt from $300 million to $135 million, with lenders receiving equity in exchange for debt.

The US Coast Guard gave up on a missing cargo ship with 33 people on board. The US cargo ship El Faro almost certainly sank on its way to Puerto Rico amid stormy conditions wrought by Hurricane Joaquin, officials said. Rescue crews found scattered debris, a battered lifeboat, and a dead body at sea, all presumed to be from the missing ship.

The thin ranks of female CEOs at blue-chip companies got a bit thinner. DuPont executive Ellen Kullman is out.

Quartz obsession interlude

Max Nisen on curing blindness with gene therapy. “Spark Therapeutics, a Philadelphia-based biotechnology company that went public earlier this year, announced that its experimental treatment for a rare form of blindness significantly improved patients’ sight in an essential phase 3 clinical trial with no serious side effects. It’s certainly good news for the firm, and is a positive sign for other high-risk, high-potential companies betting on these kinds of treatments.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Sweden is not the progressive utopia it’s made out to be. Those who say racism is not a problem in the Scandinavian country are fooling themselves.

Fishing for compliments boosts productivity. Praise from friends, family, and colleagues has been proven to improve your performance at work.

Stop listening to Vladimir Putin. There’s little overlap between what the Russian president says and what he does.

Americans care too much about undergraduate degrees. It’s wasteful and unnecessary to make four years of college a prerequisite for many jobs.

The argument for an armed US citizenry is bogus. Unless they’ve had rigorous and continuous military-style training, most gun owners will find their weapons useless in survival situations.

Surprising discoveries

Even engineers can’t afford to live near their San Francisco offices. Average rent around the Airbnb and Google offices can eat up to half of senior employees’ take-home income.

We are approaching the end of extreme poverty. The percentage of people around the world who lack basic necessities could fall under 10% this year.

California farmers are using spiritual guides to find water. Dowsers, who use mystical divination to find water sources, may be a cost-effective alternative to geologists.

The female blanket octopus is 70 times larger than her male counterpart. That sets the stage for one of the trickier sex acts in nature.

Women are more likely to get insomnia than men. It’s not just childrearing and hormones—it’s also genetics.

Scientists stationed in Antarctica have drinking problems. Their employers are considering sending breathalyzers to the research stations this year.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, blanket octopuses, and breathalyzers to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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