Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Cyprus bailout, VW recall, Asia’s trade blocs, remote-control toilets

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

What to watch for today

Cyprus’s bailout drama. The president, Nicos Anastasiades, will seek parliament’s approval for a rescue package agreed over the weekend by the euro zone finance ministers, which involves levying bank-account holders up to 10% of their deposits to prop up the island’s banks. Some angry depositors have rushed to grab their cash from ATMs, possibly inciting a flurry that could damage the entire eurozone area.

Syria starts talking. The opposition group begins discussions today (paywall) to form a cabinet and pick a PM. Talks over who will be interim leader of the area come after a high-ranking official defected to Jordan this weekend, on the two-year-anniversary of the beginning of the Syrian revolution.

Israel’s government finally takes office. After six weeks of haggling, and having come within a whisker of needing to call new elections, prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu sits down with his cabinet today. He picked Moshe Yaalon, a right-wing former Army chief of staff, as defense minister.

US Senate meets on the budget. Despite the lack of agreement, markets last week didn’t suffer. But policymakers say the debt crisis will worsen if the austerity measures continue.

Over the weekend

China’s leadership hit the ground running. Xiao Gang of the Bank of China, an advocate of financial liberalization, was named regulatory chief and president Xi Jinping picked a new foreign policy team Saturday, including a tough-on-U.S. chief diplomat. And Sunday, new PM Li Keqiang (paywall) made his first public address, criticizing bureaucracy and promising easier private investments. 

Pakistan’s government stepped down. The national election in May will pit the Bhutto family, a cricket player-turned-politician, and a host of incumbent political power machines against one another.

Volkswagen China ordered a recall. The company has opted to start a voluntary recall of cars with potential acceleration problems after a watchdog pointed out faults in a new gearbox.

India arrested five in another gang-rape. This time, a Swiss tourist was attacked by six villagers in the Madhya Pradesh area. The arrest of the men comes on the heels of a controversy surrounding the deaths in prison of several suspects in the brutal rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in December.

Philippines vies to be the next Vegas. $1.2 billion casino has opened, bringing the country alongside Macau, Singapore and Las Vegas as a gambling hub.

Quartz obsession interlude

Lily Kuo on Asia’s rival trade blocs, which aren’t really such rivals. “As our map shows, a handful of countries will be part of both agreements. Japan’s entrance into the TPP talks is likely to be approved and South Korea, following the lead of its regional rival, is likely to ask to join as well… If that happens, the second- and fourth-largest economies in the region would be members of both blocs. Instead, one can think of the deal as serving different functions for countries of different levels of development.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Stop calling Sonia Gandhi “foreign.” She’s been in Indian politics for long enough now (paywall).

The EU is divided on Syria. Yet another example of the bloc’s failure to make a common foreign and security policy work (paywall). 

Blame the vitamins. work-out supplement might be held responsible for a soldier’s death.

Why Carnival Cruise Lines has an unsinkable business model. It gets free rescues from the US Coast Guard.

Surprising discoveries

Berliners don’t want the Berlin Wall torn down. Protesters campaign to save the historic graffiti-covered stretch known as the East Side Gallery.

How to reduce gun violence: make guns safer. Biometric weapons that only their owners can fire are the hot new tech startup.

Japan keeps making bathrooms better. Now you can add a remote control to your toilet.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, or hi-tech toilet ideas to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

Sign up for the Quartz Daily Brief here, tailored for morning delivery in Asia, Europe, and the Americas.