Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Pfizer and Allergan merge, Macri wins Argentina, cancer-spotting pigeons

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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.

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 and will announce the creation of two 5,000-strong “rapid strike brigades.” The announcement will hint at both British concerns on global risks, and where the lucrative defense contracts are likely to be.

Tyson Foods likely reports a quiet end to the year. Expectations are that the world’s largest meat producer will deliver an underwhelming fiscal fourth-quarter profit; the company recently put production at two plants on hold, and beef costs have been rising.

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 Cristina Fernández de Kirchner with her support, conceded after receiving 48% of the vote.

David Cameron announced his intention to attack ISIL in Syria… The British prime minister said he would set out the case in Parliament this week to join air strikes against the terror group, following a meeting with French president François Hollande in Paris this morning. A vote may take place before Christmas.

…as the French and British leaders called for smarter EU intelligence. David Cameron urged EU countries to better share information on potential terrorist suspects and announced that the UK and France had agreed to increase anti-terror cooperation. The UK also made an airbase in Cyprus available to the French military.

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.

A euro-zone economic gauge reached a four-year high. Markit’s preliminary purchasing manager’s index for the economic bloc hit 54.4 in November, up from a month earlier and well above the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction. Manufacturing was stronger than the service sector, at 54.6. Job creation also hit a four-and-a-half-year high.

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.

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 Federal Reserve 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

Belgians responded to the country’s terror lockdown with cat pictures. Brussels residents were told not to share officers’ movements.

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

Indian police raided an art installation featuring a blow-up cow. Some thought it looked like the cow was hanged.

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, inflatable cows, and good-looking ugly men to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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