Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—A mega pharma merger, Hollande in the US, winter blues

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

The Philippines goes to court over the South China Sea. A UN-appointed tribunal in the Hague will hear arguments in the Philippines’ case against China over the disputed waters. Beijing refuses to participate, but the tribunal has said this will not deprive the court of jurisdiction. The hearing is closed to the public and expected to last a week.

Francois Hollande visits the US. The French president and his US counterpart will coordinate efforts to investigate the Paris attacks and fight Islamic militants. The visit is part of Hollande’s campaign to build an international coalition against ISIL (paywall); he will visit Vladimir Putin in Moscow next.

Canada shuts out Syrian men. The government, working toward a year-end goal of accepting 25,000 refugees, will unveil a plan to limit asylum to women, children, and families. Unaccompanied men will be excluded due to security concerns, officials have said.

Nigeria announces its rate decision. Analysts are worried that central bank governor Godwin Emefiele will bend toward political concerns more than economic rationale and reduce interest rates for the first time in six years. Nigerian share prices fell in anticipation of today’s decision.

Hewlett Packard reports quarterly earnings. This is the first earnings report since the company formally split into HP Inc. and HP Enterprise earlier this month. Hormel Foods, Campbell Soup, Tiffany & Co., and Dollar Tree also report their numbers.

While you were sleeping

A mega-merger in big pharma. The announced merger between drug giants Pfizer and Allergan is valued at roughly $160 billion, and is the second largest corporate M&A deal of all time. The biggest was British telecom giant Vodafone’s takeover of Germany’s Mannesmann in 2000.

Brussels extended its lockdown. The administrative capital of the EU and home of several of the attackers who killed 130 in Paris last weekend, was on high alert for a third day, and announced it would extend its lockdown for a fourth, keeping the subways, schools, malls, theaters, museums, and many other businesses closed. Police say terrorists are planning attacks in the city, and are hunting for remaining Paris suspects.

Vladimir Putin visited Iran. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with the Russian president in Tehran, where the two spoke about the war in Syria. Iran’s supreme leader reportedly said that the US has a “long-term plot” to dominate Syria and the region, threatening Russia and Iran, among others. Putin eased a ban on the export of nuclear equipment and technology to Iran.

Argentina’s president-elect made some grand promises. With the election of Mauricio Macri, Argentina’s political scene made a pronounced shift to the right. The new president started out by promising to cast off capital controls and by calling on the country’s central bank leadership to step down.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford and Nikhil Sonnad on why you always get sick on vacation. Lucky are the few who haven’t gone on a much-needed holiday only to spend their vacation hugging a box of tissues in a bed-bound Theraflu blur. So commonly do people seem to fall ill on vacation that some psychologists have christened it “leisure sickness.” Read more here.

Quartz markets haiku

Basically Ireland

is Switzerland with Guinness,

more tax inversions

Matters of debate

Forget what you’ve heard about the “continuous spectrum” of sexual orientation. Homosexuality and heterosexuality exist in distinct categories, new research shows.

Bombing targets in Syria won’t make European cities safer from terrorism. The terrorists who threaten the West are already there.

The video-game industry is hindered by nostalgia. Players love the familiar franchises, making production companies hesitant to experiment.

Surprising discoveries

Scientists found precise evidence of how human genes transformed during and after the agricultural revolution. Now we know when Europeans got the milk-digestion gene (paywall).

To avoid winter blues, you just have to decide to enjoy the season. That’s what the Norwegians say they do.

Mid-life crises are real. Life satisfaction is lower than ever in your 40s.

IBM wants to predict earthquakes and volcanoes. A new use for Watson, the smartypants supercomputer.

Parasitic infections could make some women more fertile. Roundworms may be having an outsized effect on some human populations.

Corporate conference calls this week have one theme in common. Just like the rest of America, executives apparently love talking about the weather.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, weather chit-chat, and mid-life crisis remedies to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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