Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—North Korean doubters, Netflix nearly global, tech hoodie oppression

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What to watch for today

A quarterly check-up for a drugstore giant. Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. is in danger of missing first-quarter revenue expectations as the rapidly consolidating sector becomes more competitive. The largest U.S. drugstore operator is awaiting regulatory approval for its $9.4 billion acquisition of rival Rite Aid, which is being investigated by competition regulators.

Bleak Russian markets are closed.  Orthodox Christmas will give beleaguered Russian traders a two-day break. The ruble was hit hardest by the global selloff that followed China’s yuan devaluation.

Weak industrial output in Brazil. Production likely decreased for a sixth consecutive month in November due to weak China demand, political turmoil, and a major mining accident. Analysts predict a decline of 0.95%, compared to 0.7% in October.

While you were sleeping

Netflix went global, with one big exception. The leading streaming service now operates in 130 countries, including new launches in India, South Korea, and Russia, CEO Reed Hastings announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. One massive market was notably absent: China.

Chipotle is feeling queasy. The fast-growing fast-casual food chain warned that sales fell by a worse-than-expected 15% last quarter after a series of high-profile food poisoning incidents. California prosecutors are investigating one particularly nasty norovirus outbreak.

NASA discovered galactic burps. Scientists at the Chandra observatory found a super massive black hole that can produce “violent outbursts” of gas about 26 light years from Earth, and create new stars in the process. It’s not the first time NASA has compared space phenomena to bodily functions.

Donald Trump went birther on Ted Cruz. The GOP front-runner, under pressure from Cruz in Iowa, tried to undermine his rival by attacking his Canadian birthplace. But constitutional experts say that Cruz is fully qualified to run for US president, because his mother was a US citizen when he was born.

The US cast doubt on North Korea’s h-bomb claims. The White House said its initial reports were “not consistent” with the claim that Pyongyang tested a hydrogen bomb. The UN, China, Japan, and others also questioned North Korea’s grandly-worded proclamation.

Quartz obsession interlude

Mike Murphy on being put in a suit designed to make you feel like an old person. ”Ferren put me on a treadmill, asking me to walk at a slow pace. It was difficult, but I could keep it up for a while. A monitor broadcast my heart rate on a screen next to me for all to see. Then Ferren gave me the legs of a 100-year-old, slowing me down as if I were walking through waist-high mud. My heart rate spiked.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Email is hated but it’s here to stay. Even in the age of Slack, email will be hard to phase out.

Silicon Valley’s dress code is subtly sexist. Women’s style choices are limited in the land of the hoodie.

Saturn is the best planet. Sorry Jupiter—you cannot match its mysterious ringed beauty.

Surprising discoveries

A Siberian tiger is best friends with a goat who was supposed to be his dinner. Russia is obsessed with their bond.

Starfish-killing robots could save the Great Barrier Reef. The crown-of-thorns starfish is decimating the reef’s coral.

A high-tech robot suit is designed to make you feel old. It’s designed to raise awareness of problems associated with aging.

Rome is getting buried in bird droppings. A flock of one million starlings is forcing Romans to carry umbrellas on sunny days.

Motörhead fans want to name a new heavy metal element after their departed frontman. But “Lemmium” may run afoul of scientific naming conventions.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, hoodie couture, and starfish-killing robots to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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