Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Macri wins Argentina, Brussels on lockdown, gullible Brits

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What to watch for today

Brussels remains on lockdown. Schools, universities, and the metro are expected to remain shut, possibly all week, as Belgian police warn of an imminent attack (paywall). Troops launched 22 raids over the weekend in search for a man suspected of being involved in the Paris attacks.

China deflates some bubbles. New rules take effect on the biggest mainland stock exchanges, in Shanghai and Shenzhen, reducing how much investors can borrow against their existing holdings. The goal is to limit leveraged bets and cut the risk of dangerous speculation.

Pfizer and Allergan seal a mega-deal. The two are expected to announce a merger worth $150 billion, creating the world’s biggest drug firm by sales. The deal would be a ”tax inversion” to allow Pfizer to benefit from Ireland’s low corporate taxes.

Britain sets out its defense priorities. Prime minister David Cameron presents an $18 billion expansion to the country’s military equipment budget. The announcement will hint at both British concerns on global risks, and where the lucrative defense contracts are likely to be.

Françoise Hollande kicks off a week of security talks. The French president will host the British prime minister for a working breakfast, to discuss a military solution for ISIL. Throughout the week Hollande will also meet the leaders of Germany, Russia, and the US.

Over the weekend

Mauricio Macri became president of Argentina. The center-right mayor of Buenos Aires won 52% of votes with most of the ballots counted. Daniel Scioli, running to replace president Christina de Kirchner, conceded after receiving 48% of the vote.

Iran sentenced a US journalist to prison. Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post reporter accused of espionage, was given a sentence of unspecified duration, according to Iranian state media. The Post, which denies the US-born Rezaian is a spy, has a timeline of his arrest and captivity.

Mali launched a manhunt for the Bamako attackers. The country declared a state of emergency as well as three days of mourning after Friday’s siege on a hotel in the capital that killed at least 19 people. Al-Mourabitoun, a group affiliated with Al-Qaeda, has claimed responsibility.

Crimea was plunged into darkness. Saboteurs blew up the power lines that ran from Ukraine to the now Russian-held peninsula, causing Russia to declare a state of emergency there. Ukrainian activists had earlier blockaded commercial traffic to Crimea.

A Myanmar mine disaster killed at least 100 people. Around 100 more are still missing after a landslide struck jade mines in the country’s north. The jade industry accounts for half of Myanmar’s GDP but lacks transparency, Global Witness says.

Greece inched forward with its bailout. Euro area finance ministers approved the transfer of up to €10 billion ($10.6 billion) to refinance the country’s banks, after prime minister Alexis Tsipras achieved requested reforms. But Tsipras is losing support in his own government, and may struggle to make further changes.

Violence broke out in Burundi’s presidential office. At least five people were killed in heavy gunfire and apparent mortar shelling in the capital Bujumbura. Fighting connected to president Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial third term has flared up since April; police say they arrested 28 suspects.

Quartz obsession interlude

Akshat Rathi on “gene drive,” the next potential weapon of mass destruction. “It allows scientists to, essentially, hijack the process of evolution, spreading a new gene through a population with incredible speed. And while it was developed with peaceful uses in mind, such as eradicating mosquitoes to end malaria, it could be used for ill too—it’s cheap and easy enough to master that bioterrorists could get their hands on it.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Belgium is a failed state. That jihadism could take root in a Brussels suburb says a lot about the country’s institutional weaknesses.

Global deflation is still a problem. The Fed will want to be very careful when it starts raising interest rates next month.

Seeking the best doctor is not the best way to get treatment. Quizzing an average doctor about their treatment plan is (paywall).

The finance industry has lost sight of its purpose. Which is to connect money with borrowers, not generate financial products for their own sake.

It’s immoral to have more than four children. After that point, the added benefits to parents don’t outweigh the child’s future risks.

Surprising discoveries

One in five British kids believe everything they see on search engines. The silver lining: Four years ago it was one in three.

Rome bought five Texan falcons to hunt starlings. The city is sick of the birds’ droppings.

Pigeons can spot breast cancer in X-rays. After two weeks of training, their success rate is similar to that of humans.

Zimbabwe’s “Mr. Ugly” was accused of cheating. The winner of the country’s annual male un-beauty contest is ”too handsome,” said his rival’s supporters.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, starling droppings, and ugly pictures to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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