Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—“Jihadi John” dead?, Democrats debate, million-dollar dollhouses

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What to watch for today and over the weekend

“Jihadi John” may be dead… The Pentagon said that it is still assessing whether the Kuwaiti-born British citizen was killed in US airstrikes near Raqqa, in Syria, but a US official told the BBC there was a “high degree of certainty” he was dead. The ISIL militant, real-name Mohammed Emwazi, became infamous after killing Western hostages on video.

…as Kurdish forces try to retake Sinjar. Peshmerga fighters, backed by US airstrikes, are trying to recapture the Iraqi town from ISIL, which seized the city last year. Forces are entering the city at present.

 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. 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 about the Syrian civil war taking place a few hundred miles away, and Europe’s migrant crisis.

While you were sleeping

Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won Myanmar’s election. The National League for Democracy took over two thirds of the country’s parliamentary seats, giving it a full mandate to rule. The military, which said it would respect the people’s’ vote, automatically retains 25% of the seats.

The death toll from a Beirut attack rose to 43. Two men detonated explosive vests in a suburb controlled by Hezbollah, which also injured more than 100 people. ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place during a Shiite religious gathering.

The euro zone reported underwhelming GDP growth. Germany’s economy grew by 1.8% in the third quarter compared with a year earlier, matching expectations, but its quarter-on-quarter growth slowed slightly. France narrowly beat expectations; Italy continued a slowdown of its own.

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.

Christie’s capped off $2.3 billion in art sales. The auction house’s marathon 10-day sale drew to a close, beating expectations that it would fetch $2.1 billion for its multiple works of Impressionist and contemporary art. But that was a little lower than its previous sale, which earned a record $2.7 billion in May.

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.

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

Africa needs rapid job growth. Otherwise, a massive population boom could work against the continent.

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

Scientists are developing glasses can help blind people “see.” They translate light into sound.

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.

The world’s most expensive diamond belongs to a seven-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. Please send any news, comments, island liquor, and skateboard strollers to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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