Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Lufthansa strike, ExxonMobil probe, Japanese retirement casinos

Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Lufthansa strike, ExxonMobil probe, Japanese retirement casinos
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What to watch for today and over the weekend

The Taiwanese and Chinese presidents meet for the first time. Ma Ying-jeou will meet Xi Jinping on Saturday in Singapore, and is expected to express a desire to maintain the island’s status quo with the mainland. But the meeting could fuel more anti-China sentiment in Taiwan.

A general election in Myanmar. Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is barred from winning the presidency, and more than 1 million minority citizens cannot take part in Sunday’s vote. Nevertheless, it remains the most important election since the military refused to share power in 1990.

Lufthansa flight attendants go on strike. Following a breakdown in negotiations over early retirement benefits and pensions, the airline’s cabin crew will begin a week-long labor strike, starting at 11am GMT.

The US publishes jobs data. Economists expect that about 180,000 jobs were added in October, and that the unemployment rate fell to 5%—close to the 4.9% the Fed considers “consistent with full employment.” Quartz, as always, will be live-charting the numbers.

While you were sleeping

Cable TV helped Disney beat estimates. The entertainment conglomerate reported a fourth-quarter net income of $1.6 billion, from $1.5 billion a year earlier, due to higher ad revenue and broadcast fees from networks such as ESPN. But a loss of subscribers to online alternatives remained an issue; Disney’s share price fell marginally.

The US probed ExxonMobil over climate claims. A subpoena issued earlier this week requested internal emails and other records, according to the New York Times (paywall). The investigation centers on whether Exxon’s statements to investors about the threat of climate change were consistent with the company’s own research.

Kraft Heinz reported a loss. The US food manufacturer posted a $303 million third-quarter loss, and earnings-per-share far were below expectations. That was the first time the company reported full earnings since it was formed in a merger. Earlier this week, it promised savings through job cuts.

Singapore Air offered to take Tiger Airways private. The airline offered investors in the loss-making budget airline S$0.41 ($0.29) per share—a 32% premium on yesterday’s closing price but far lower than the original IPO price of S$1.50. Tiger Airways could be expecting a turnaround soon, after cutting loss-making routes.

Rebel groups in Syria were confirmed to be using chemical weapons. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, an international watchdog, said non-government fighters had used mustard gas, according to Reuters. The group did not assign blame, but some sources suspected ISIL of using the weapon.

Boeing’s NASA bid failed. The US space agency rejected the US aerospace company in a contest for a $3.5 billion contract to supply cargo to the International Space Station, and delayed a final vote until Jan. 30. Elon Musk’s SpaceX remains in the race, along with Orbital and Sierra Nevada.

Car sales in China got a major boost. Sales in the world’s largest auto market rose by 11% in October after the government lowered tax rates to boost car purchases. Auto brands were also discounting their models, following earlier sales declines.

Quartz obsession interlude

Aamna Mohdin on the sprawling refugee encampment in Europe’s heart. “The settlement on the outskirts of Calais, on the northern French coast, has no official name, but everyone calls it ‘the Jungle.’ The estimated 6,000 migrants who live there cohabit with rats and mice, in makeshift shelters frequently exposed to flooding. They have to share 40 toilets with no hand-washing facilities, drink from water sources contaminated by feces, and deal with regular outbreaks of tuberculosis and scabies.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

There was a hidden feminism in China’s one-child policy. It was hugely beneficial for girls’ education.

Virtual reality is missing a sense of touch. Despite talk of “teleporters,” research is lagging.

The plane crash in Egypt is enmeshed in a secret war. Rival powers have strategic reasons to push their own theories.

Peace in Syria depends on Iran and Saudi Arabia. Talks are pointless if the two rivals can’t come together.

Africa’s crippling 20th Century debt trap could be on its way back. The continent’s sovereign debt levels are rising fast.

Surprising discoveries

Amazon’s brick-and-mortar book store has no price tags. You have to scan barcodes with your smartphone.

Malaysia’s corruption scandal inspired a song that went viral. The lyrics are vague enough to keep the songwriter out of trouble, probably.

Happier populations have more baby boys. Fewer are born during periods of stress.

Japanese retirement homes are creating fake casinos. Gambling chips can be earned through exercise and health checks.

Ben Carson thinks the pyramids were built to store grain. At least the US presidential candidate dismissed the alien intervention theory.

Californian porn stars could be forced to wear protective goggles. Bad news for porn fans—unless you’re into that sort of thing.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, gambling chips, and protective goggles to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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