Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Apple Pay in China, Syria talks, dumb thief

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What to watch for today and over the weekend

Democrats debate. US presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley will face off in a third debate in New Hampshire on YouTube this Saturday. Clinton has widened her lead nationally, but in Iowa, where primary voting kicks off, Sanders is only nine points behind.

The Force Awakens worldwide—almost. The seventh film of the Star Wars saga, and the first produced by Disney, is expected to earn a record $220 million in US box office sales. In China, the world’s second-largest movie market, the franchise is mostly unknown (paywall), and won’t premiere until Jan. 9.

The Australian prime minister visits Japan. Malcolm Turnbull meets with the Japanese government for diplomatic and trade talks, as well as to raise Australia’s concerns about Japanese whaling. Japan is bidding to design and build Australia’s new fleet of submarines.

High-level Syria talks in New York. US secretary of state John Kerry chairs a UN Security Council meeting, arranged during Kerry’s visit to Moscow this week, in an effort to broker an end to Syria’s bloody civil war.

While you were sleeping

A friend of the San Bernardino attackers was arrested. Enrique Marquez allegedly bought two rifles used by the attackers in the US’s worst terror attack since 9/11. He was also charged with plotting an earlier terror attack with the San Bernardino gunman.

Apple confirmed a China Apple Pay deal. UnionPay, China’s largest credit card provider, agreed to a tie-up with Apple that will allow Chinese cardholders to use the iPhone maker’s contactless payment system there. The system will roll out as soon as early 2016.

David Cameron appeared upbeat on his EU pitch. The British prime minister presented four demands aimed at renegotiating the UK’s relationship with the European Union, and said he was confident that solutions would be found. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker described each of the issues as “tricky.”

WhatsApp returned in Brazil. A São Paulo court overturned a lower court’s order to close off the Facebook-owned messaging app from its 100 million Brazilian users. Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said he was “stunned” by the court’s initial ruling, which was linked to the app’s apparent use by one of Brazil’s biggest criminal gangs.

Israel and Turkey mended fences. The two countries will normalize relations, five years after the Israeli navy attacked a Turkish flotilla carrying activists to Gaza. Israel will compensate the families of 10 activists who were killed, and Turkey will drop charges, according to reports.

Quartz obsession interlude

Corinne Purtill on how a butter coffee maker sells an entire lifestyle: “In company lingo, “being Bulletproof” means hacking your diet, your sleep, your workout routines and virtually every other interaction with your environment to become a smarter, sharper, better performing you… What Bulletproof is really selling isn’t high-fat coffee but a new take on a perennially popular product: the promise of a better life, and a faster, easier way to get there.” Read more here.

Quartz markets haiku

The mighty greenback

When rates rise it too ascends

Stocks? Bonds? Not so much.

Matters of debate

“The Force Awakens” is exactly the movie we were waiting for. For fans, it feels truly like coming home.

Mars should be independent from Earth. Future colonists should renounce their Earth citizenship.

Instead of treating depression, we should preempt it. The animal tranquilizer (and sometimes party drug) ketamine could help.

Surprising discoveries

A bank robber was caught on a live news report returning to the scene of the crime. He was trying to rob the bank a second time.

American teens prefer marijuana over tobacco. Weed use has stayed constant; cigarette use has fallen sharply.

Hong Kong police seized $190,000 worth of pangolin meat. The endangered species is prized in China for its supposed medicinal qualities.

Norwegians are campaigning to gift a mountain to Finland. It’s to celebrate 100 years of Finnish independence.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, spare mountains, and Mars citizenship applications to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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