Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Beirut attacked, Cisco disappoints, million-dollar dollhouse

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What to watch for today

The Kurds try to retake Sinjar. Peshmerga forces, backed by US airstrikes, are trying to recapture the Iraqi town from ISIL, which seized the city last year. The Kurds took control of a critical highway on Thursday, in an attempt to cut off Islamic State supply lines.

The EU and Ukraine discuss a free-trade zone. EU trade chief Cecilia Malmström arrives in Kiev to discuss implementation of an agreement that was postponed last fall due to Russian opposition. Malmström has vowed that the pact will go into effect on Jan. 1.

US Democrats duke it out. The second Democratic presidential candidate debate takes place on Saturday at 9pm EST (2am Sunday GMT). Only three contenders remain: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley, with Clinton comfortably in the lead.

The G20 summit begins on Sunday. The two-day confab kicks off in Antalya, Turkey with leaders from the US, EU, China, Russia, and other world powers. There are sure to be tense discussions of the Syrian civil war taking place a few hundred miles away, and Europe’s migrant crisis.

While you were sleeping

Suicide bombings in Beirut killed at least 43 people. Two men detonated explosive vests in a suburb controlled by Hezbollah, also injuring more than 100. ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place during a Shiite religious gathering.

Cisco disappointed its investors. The network equipment maker predicted the strong dollar would hurt its international business in the current quarter, sending its share price down by 5%. That was despite Cisco’s fiscal first-quarter rise in net income, to $2.4 billion.

China made a $42 billion buyout offer for Syngenta. The Swiss pesticide giant rejected the proposal, made by China National Chemical, a state-owned enterprise, citing “regulatory risks,” according to Bloomberg. But the two companies are still in talks; at that price, a deal would be the biggest-ever Chinese buyout of a European company.

Malaysia’s GDP grew at the slowest rate in two years. The economy expanded by 4.7% (paywall) in the third quarter compared to a year earlier, down from 4.9% in the second quarter, on low global commodity prices.

Another major US retailer got hammered. Shares in Nordstrom, a department store operator, fell by more than 20% after it missed same-store sales expectations and cut its full-year profit forecast. Nordstrom joins Macy’s in disappointing investors, which flocked to buy JC Penney stock.

The US said it made a South China Sea flyover. A B-52 bomber flew near artificial Chinese islands in disputed waters, and ignored radio messages from Chinese air traffic controllers. A Pentagon spokesman said the flight “continued its mission unabated.”

US airstrikes targeted “Jihadi John.” The Pentagon said that it is still assessing whether the Kuwaiti-born British citizen who killed Western hostages on video was killed in the strikes, carried out near Raqqa, in Syria.

Markets haiku

Red, yellow metals

tin, zinc, even lead

They’re bent by mere words

Quartz obsession interlude

Lily Kuo on an app that could reduce maternal death rates in Ethiopia. “Safe Delivery App, operated by a Danish nonprofit, the Maternity Foundation, gives simple instructions via animated videos and graphics in local languages as well as English on how to deal with emergency childbirth situations.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The euro was pointless from the beginning. Boosting living standards and productivity was never as simple as just sharing a currency.

So you’ve quit Facebook? Don’t get smug about it. Social media is not “not real life,” it’s very much a part of life.

Political correctness is becoming dangerously illiberal. Left-wingers are using it to delegitimize dissent.

Surprising discoveries

A skateboard stroller is perfect for hipster dads. It’s only available in the EU, for now.

There’s a dollhouse that costs $8.5 million. The Astolat Castle has 10,000 miniature items, including working dumbwaiters.

Bike helmet laws don’t improve cycling safety. But better bike lanes do.

The world’s most expensive diamond belongs to a 7-year-old. A Hong Kong billionaire bought it for his daughter.

Canada and Denmark are feuding over a desolate island. But their armed forces leave whiskey and schnapps (respectively) for each other.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Yes, we are trying out a new poetry-based markets feature. Please tell us whether you like it and any news, comments, pricey dollhouses, and skateboard strollers to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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