Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Italy’s election, Nook’s future, horsemeatballs, pigeon lofts

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

A result in Italy’s cliffhanger election. As of this writing an unprecedented hung parliament looked fairly likely, with polls predicting that Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right alliance would win the senate while Pier Luigi Bersani’s leftists dominate the lower chamber. The two factions could form a coalition, but they probably won’t. That means an electoral re-run, and weeks of instability and uncertainty—not only for Italy but also for the euro zone, the fate of which depends partly on the reform program begun under outgoing prime minister Mario Monti.

How will BlackBerry’s Z10 do in India? The new top-of-the-line smartphone goes on sale, for slightly less than Apple’s iPhone. BlackBerry badly needs to win some customers in a country where high-end smartphones aren’t already ubiquitous.

Will Ben Bernanke keep the faith? The Federal Reserve chairman’s half-yearly testimony to the US Senate will be closely watched for hints of any course changes on quantitative easing, about which some Fed board members are getting increasingly nervous.

While you were sleeping

Will Barnes & Noble ditch the Nook? The struggling bookseller is considering a proposal by Leonard Riggio, its founder, to buy its retail assets. But even he didn’t want Nook Media, the division that makes the e-reader, adding fuel to reports that the company might stop making it.

Horsemeatballs. IKEA was the latest company to be pulled into the European horsemeat scandal when the stuff was discovered in the iconic Swedish meatballs it serves in its cheap but chic furniture stores. They’re now off the menu across Europe.

US stocks hit a low point. The markets are squeamish about Berlusconi’s strong showing in the Italian election. The S&P 500 had its biggest drop since November and currency trading was also on the rocks.

Syria said it would talk to rebels. Walid al-Mouallem, foreign minister of an increasingly precarious Syrian state, said during a Moscow visit that Syria is open to discussions with the armed opposition, although it would also continue to fight “terrorism.”

BP’s oil spill trial began. The US government is seeking the maximum fine of up to $17.6 billion to penalize BP for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BP paid $4.5 billion as part of another settlement last year.

Quartz obsession interlude

Christopher Mims on how to persuade people that it’s OK to wear computers on their faces. “Since Google launched its reality-augmenting Project Glass in June, it’s been pretty much impossible find a picture of Google co-founder Sergei Brin in which he’s not wearing the futuristic eye-piece […] Intentionally or not, Brin is constantly projecting the image of a rich, famous, vigorous alpha-geek whom others might want to imitate.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The US budget picture isn’t that bad. Seriously.

Yes the sequester was the White House’s idea. Bob Woodward says so.

Having kids makes you miserable. Though hearing “I wub you” makes you forget about it.

Cities should go dark at night. Paris is doing it, and apparently there is “no link between lighting and crime.”

Carried interest is a sop to super-rich financiers.  A Rothschild says enough is enough.

China should look to Japan for guidance. Japan’s per capita GDP is about 10 times higher than China’s.

Al-Qaeda is nothing more than a name. And the US is going to fight it forever.

Surprising discoveries

To fight an invasion of snakes, Guam will airdrop poisoned mice on the island.

The average American in colonial times consumed the equivalent of five to six gallons of pure alcohol every year (compared to 2.3 gallons today).

The International Herald Tribune is rebranding as the oxymoronic International New York Times.

“How to Sharpen Pencils” and “Lofts of North America: Pigeon Lofts” are contenders for Oddest Book Title of the Year.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, and pictures of yourself wearing Google Glass to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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