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Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—World ends, Pope erased, Groupon boss fired, marijuana cannon

By Quartz Staff

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

World ends today. OK, maybe it doesn’t end. But today is the deadline when “sequestration” officially takes effect in the US because of a lack of political agreement. That means $85 billion in automatic budget cuts, affecting everything from airports to the military. But what you should really worry about is March 27.

Will the Dow break its record? The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched closer to an all-time high on Feb. 28, then fell back again. All eyes will be on the US markets to see if they end the week on a high note after a rocky start over the Italian elections.

Best Buy delayed earnings. The US electronics retailer was supposed to report on Feb. 28, but it waited a day to see if founder Richard Schulze would go through with a proposal to buy the company; his deadline for an offer was the end of the day.

While you were sleeping

US to give direct aid to Syria. US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that for the first time, the Obama administration would give “non-lethal” direct aid to Syrian rebels. Kerry met members of Syria’s opposition council and other world leaders who are trying to end the conflict.

Pope pledges obedience, is erased from Twitter. Pope Benedict XVI said he promised ”unconditional reverence and obedience” to whoever his successor might be. He then hopped on a helicopter, bidding ciao to Vatican City as he begins his life as pope emeritus. Meanwhile, his Twitter account, @pontifex, was scrubbed of tweets and his picture, and tagged with the words Sede Vacante.”

US  economy did grow, but not by much. Revised GDP figures show the economy expanded by 0.1%, compared to the previous estimate that it shrank. But the economy is still fragile, especially given the political deadlock over budget cuts. Weekly applications for job aid fell, however, reflecting declining job cuts.

Groupon ousted its CEO. A day after Groupon reported dismal earnings, the online deals site announced it was firing founder Andrew Mason. True to his goofy self, Mason wrote a memo to staff saying he would be “looking for a good fat camp to lose my Groupon 40.” His board will be looking for a new, permanent CEO, but that might not solve Groupon’s problems.

Bangladeshis die in clash with security. At least 35 people died after a war crimes tribunal sentenced to death an Islamic fundamentalist leader over actions he took more than 30 years ago. Delawar Hossain Sayedee was a key figure in the war to gain independence from Pakistan in 1971. His followers condemned the ruling while others hurt by his movement rejoiced.

Quartz obsession interlude

Naomi Rovnick on why India’s wealth tax probably won’t work, because it has a tax treaty with Mauritius. “It is therefore popular for rich Indians to illegally park what what would otherwise be taxable income in Mauritius and later re-route it home via tax-free fake ‘foreign direct investment.’ […] The wheeze is so well established that Mauritius is the source of around 40% of foreign direct investment into India.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

While America slept, China got its groove on.

The world needs to act before Syria really threatens an already messed up Middle East.

Feminists should make more jokes

Don’t work on Wall Street. It could make you evil. (Yes, we know we told you the opposite yesterday.)

Will humanity flourish in outer space or become extinct?

Surprising discoveries

A Mexican marijuana cannon has been built to shoot pot over the California border

A Japanese woman born the year radium was discovered is the oldest woman in the world

Steel is the specialty dish at a sword swallowers‘ gathering.

Scientists link the brains of rats in the first attempt at a real-life mind-meld.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, videos of flying pot or Andrew Mason sightings to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.