Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—UK austerity, EU accession, B&N losses, midair heists

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What to watch for today

George the Austere. UK chancellor George Osborne will give details about the £11 billion ($17 billion) more of spending cuts that will kick in from April 2015. The Bank of England’s financial stability report will also be released.

Obama’s African safari.  The US president will start his 8-day visit to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania. His trip could be overshadowed by the deteriorating health of South African icon Nelson Mandela.

Cereals anyone? US food giant General Mills is expected to post a 11% decline in earnings, despite a 6% increase in revenue. The maker of Cheerios cereal and Betty Crocker baking products is struggling to boost sales of its two largest categories—cereal and yogurt. Monsanto and Bed Bath & Beyond will report earnings too.

HD Supply prices its IPO. The industrial and hardware supply company could raise up to $1.25 billion, making it the third-largest US IPO this year (paywall).

While you were sleeping

A blow to the Voting Rights Act. The US Supreme court struck down a key part of the civil-rights law, ruling that Congress could not force nine states to get federal approval for voting rule changes affecting minorities.

Edward Snowden in Russian limbo. President Vladimir Putin confirmed that the NSA whistleblower was still in the transit lounge of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. He said Russia would not extradite Snowden to the US, but that the sooner Snowden chose where to go next, “the better it will be both for us and for him.”

Yes, they still want to join the European Union. EU ministers gave Serbia the go-ahead to start accession talks in January, and to revive dormant membership talks for Turkey, albeit with a delay because of the recent unrest there.

There is money for the Nicaragua Canal. The Chinese billionaire behind Nicaragua’s plan to compete with the Panama Canal said he has investors and work could start by the end of 2014.

Obama the green warrior. The US president unveiled a plan to fight climate change, which included controversial proposals like limits on carbon emissions from new and existing power plants. As notable as his plan was his combative mood.

Tablet wars took a toll on Barnes & Noble. The US bookseller reported a $118.6 million loss, with revenues of its Nook e-reader division slumping 34%. It will start outsourcing the production of color tablets, but could be better off just selling the Nook business—if it can find a buyer.

Quartz obsession interlude

Christopher Mims on why smart watches are so terrible. “The woes of current smart watches are myriad, from inadequate battery life (imagine charging your watch daily, like your smartphone) to low-resolution screens to a lack of third-party apps (i.e., the software that makes smartphones so useful). But the primary issue with smart watches is that there has yet to be a category-defining device worth copying by all its competitors.” Read more here. 

Matters of debate

Higher US minimum wages could boost the economy and reduce inequality. Republicans should support the proposal for their own good.

Don’t get so upset about Chinese counterfeiting. It could even be a good thing for foreign firms.

Master the art of the mea culpa. If done right, apologies can resolve conflict and improve relationships.

You shouldn’t always pick the best applicant. Motivation is more important than having the right skills.

Surprising discoveries

Midair heist? $1.2 million went missing from a flight from Zurich to New York. 

Enjoy getting caught by the migra. A Mexican amusement park offers a fake border-crossing attraction.

Looking for a nice cafe? Ask a street sign. Signs of the future will be able to give you recommendations.

Porn with a conscience. An site that sells sex movies to raise money to protect rainforests.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, heist tales, and eco-porn to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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