Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Myanmar tries for peace, Germany returns migrants, David Bowie soul petition

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What to watch for today

The US and the Philippines talk strategy on the South China Sea. The Filipino ministers for defense and foreign affairs will ask the US to keep patrolling the waterway during a meeting in Washington, to counter China’s territorial claims. Joint patrols by the US and its Asian allies may also be discussed.

Junior doctors go on strike in the UK. Medical graduates will walk off the job at 8am GMT, to protest proposed changes to their pay structure. Prime minister David Cameron called the strikes unnecessary and “damaging.”

Myanmar reaches for peace. The government and military kick off a two-week peace conference, but Aung San Suu Kyi, head of the country’s new governing party, will not stay past her opening speech. Some of the country’s biggest armed militia groups also declined to attend.

A deadline is reached over Hong Kong’s missing booksellers. Chinese law states that, should mainland Chinese authorities detain a Hong Kong citizen in the mainland, Hong Kong police must be informed within 14 days. That deadline is up today (paywall), putting pressure on the Hong Kong government to take a stand against Beijing.

Last call for Internet Explorer. Microsoft will officially stop supporting older versions of the web browser to encourage users to migrate to its Microsoft Edge instead. That could cause security and other issues for some companies.

While you were sleeping

An evacuation was called for in Syria. Hundreds of residents of the besieged town of Madaya must be removed from danger, said Gerard van Bohemen, New Zealand’s ambassador to the UN. Madaya and two other villages received much-needed food aid yesterday.

Hillary Clinton proposed a 4% tax on multimillionaires. The US Democratic presidential frontrunner called for a “fair share surcharge” for taxpayers who earn more than $5 million a year. Her rival, Bernie Sanders, has drawn widespread support for proposing higher taxes on the wealthy.

Austria accused Germany of returning more asylum seekers. The number of migrants sent back across the border has risen from 60 per day to 200 per day since the beginning of this year, according to Austrian police. Germany’s pro-asylum seeker stance has been tested by mass sexual assaults over New Year’s Eve.

Asahi eyed two major European beer brands. The Japanese brewery said it might buy Peroni and Grolsch, both of which are expected to be sold by SABMiller ahead of its planned merger with AB InBev. The two brands could be valued at $3.4 billion, according to reports; Asahi’s share price fell on the news.

Dalian Wanda sealed a deal for Legendary Entertainment. The company owned by Asia’s richest man will pay $3.5 billion for the Hollywood film studio. The deal will offer China a stronger voice in the international movie industry, said Wang Jianlin, Wanda’s owner.

Quartz obsession interlude 

Aamna Modin on value for money in the English Premier League: “Chelsea dished out £215.6 million in wages last season… At the other end of the table, financially, is Leicester City; its wage bill is £36 million. But this a topsy-turvy season; Leicester became the first team to be bottom of the league at Christmas one year and top the next last month and is currently in second place.” Read more here.

Markets haiku

It was a wild ride
Except oil, that was all bad
All eyes looking east.

Matters of debate

Violence between Muslim minorities and non-Muslim majorities is inevitable. As long as the Muslim world is conflicted, violence will spread outwards too.

Hunky men and funny women could save award shows. Otherwise, the proceedings are only barely tolerable.

Bubble tea is the new coffee. The business model for the Taiwanese treat has already been perfected.

Surprising discoveries

The Koch brothers’ father helped build a major Nazi oil refinery. It was a “critical cog in Hitler’s war machine” (paywall).

Italians are petitioning God for the soul of David Bowie. They want to bring the spaceman back to Earth.

If a decision is unanimous, it’s probably wrong. There chances of everyone being correct is very small indeed.

Rupert Murdoch is engaged to Jerry Hall. The media mogul and Mick Jagger’s ex have been together just four months.

Intermarriage created laksa. The Southeast Asian soup was created by local women trying to woo Chinese sailors.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, laksa recipes, and favorite David Bowie songs to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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