Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—BP’s final settlement, new Microsoft devices, breathalyzers for Antarctica

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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 tech giant 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.

The US commerce secretary visits Cuba. Penny Pritzker 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 this year.

Soda and fast food brands announce third-quarter earnings. Pepsi is expected to report a strong quarter thanks to emerging market growth, while investors in Yum Brands, the owner of KFC and Pizza Hut, will be watching to see how a slowdown in China—its largest market—affects earnings.

While you were sleeping

BP finalized a $20 billion Deepwater Horizon settlement. The agreement between the oil major, the US justice department, and five states will resolve all civil claims and bind the company to a clean-up operation. The settlement, due for approval by a judge, comes after an offshore oil rig spilled 134 million gallons of oil into the US Gulf Coast in 2010.

Apple acquired an artificial intelligence company. The iPhone maker didn’t disclose how much it paid for Perceptio, which has developed an image recognition system based on deep learning. Perceptio had been working on a way to learn about the user without compromising his or her privacy.

Nato criticized Russia over its airspace incursion. The security coalition condemned Russia for allowing its fighter jets to violate Turkish airspace twice over the weekend, a move that it says could have led to a military standoff. Russia has sent planes to strike targets in Syria, which borders Turkey. Other planes could be intercepted, Turkey’s prime minister warned.

Rio 2016 cut its budget by almost a third. Brazilian Olympic organizers said they have reduced the spending plan for next year’s games by 30%, to avoid going over the $3.6 billion budget. Although the costs are privately financed, the Brazilian government would have to pay for any overspend; one area to receive a cut will be the opening ceremony.

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.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is weak tea. Big new trade agreements used to be global, not regional.

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

The argument for an armed US citizenry is bogus. Without rigorous and continuous military-style training, most gun owners would find their weapons useless in survival situations.

Everybody is racist. We shouldn’t ignore whites who feel discriminated against.

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.

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 San Francisco rental tips to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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