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Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Winter storms, Saudi oil, deadly condom heists

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

Guinea is set to be Ebola-free. The country will be one of the last to be declared free of the disease, provided no new cases are found on Tuesday; the last known patient, a newborn girl, tested negative in November. Liberia was declared Ebola-free months ago, but is experiencing a flare-up.

Winter storms hit the US and the UK. The winter storm Goliath, part of deadly weather that killed at least 43 people over the weekend, moves into the Northeast. Meanwhile, Scotland faces floods as winter storm Frank hits the country with heavy rain and plunging temperatures.

A trio of reports on the US economy. Analysts expect the trade deficit to widen, with imports outpacing exports due to the strong dollar. October home prices are expected to rise 5.5% from last year in the latest survey from Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller. And consumer confidence numbers from the Conference Board are expected to rise due to falling gas prices and a stronger jobs market.

Erdogan arrives in Saudi Arabia. The Turkish president meets with King Salman against the backdrop of conflicts in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq. Turkey recently announced it would join a Saudi-led coalition of Sunni states to fight terrorism.

While you were sleeping

The US grapples with more police shootings. An officer in Puerto Rico held three fellow officers hostage before killing them in a workplace dispute. Separately, prosecutors in Cleveland drew heavy criticism after a grand jury did not file charges against a cop who killed a 12-year-old boy holding a toy pistol last year. And Chicago residents held protests after police shot and killed two people over the weekend, including a bystander activist mother of four.

Mark Zuckerberg tried to defend in India. Facing a continued backlash against Facebook’s “Free Basics” internet initiative, the company founder took a break from paternity leave to pen an op-ed in the Times of India. He argued that opponents are using “false claims” to “leave a billion people behind.”

Israel sacked its missile defense chief. Yair Ramati was abruptly fired for allegedly storing classified information on his personal laptop. He’s one of several leaders in Israel’s defense sector who have been let go recently for “information security” breaches.

Saudi Arabia’s 2016 budget is low on oil and high on defense. King Salman’s newly formed government is making major cuts to energy subsidies and raising oil, electricity, and water prices. The country is paying a heavy financial price for its war against shale oil.

Quartz obsession interlude

Alice Truong on making virtual reality sound real. “Because of the immersive nature of virtual reality, any inconsistencies—including audio—can become glaringly obvious. But done right, virtual reality can create a sense of presence, which in essence fools the viewer’s eyes and brain into believing what’s virtually around them is in fact real.” Read more here.

Markets haiku

Christmas cheer is gone
Stocks held back by energy
As the year winds down

Matters of debate

Big Oil is coming to an end. Western oil companies, unable to compete with shale and OPEC, should consider graceful exit strategies.

Ethicists aren’t especially ethical. From littering to vegetarianism, they are not very good at practicing what they preach.

Elon Musk is right about the threat of AI. But he’s woefully wrong about why it’s dangerous.

Surprising discoveries

Louis Vuitton’s next top model is from a video game. Lightning, a character from the Final Fantasy series, stars in a new ad for the fashion house.

There’s almost nothing left of New York’s Little Syria. Just three historic buildings remain in the formerly bustling 19th century enclave.

Big Food is getting real. Hershey revealed closely guarded information about GMOs to win over hyper-conscientious consumers.

An Italian town banned wood-fired ovens. The classic pizza-making appliances are blamed for San Vitaliano’s pollution problem.

A condom-dispenser heist ended in disaster. A German man died trying to blow up the machine to steal the money and merchandise inside.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, condom heist screenplays, and wood-fired pizza to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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