Quartz Daily Brief—#Ebola reaches #US, Hong Kong protests swell, #UK bombs IS, #Tetris: The Movie

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

The Hong Kong protests swell. After a rain-soaked night, the China National Day holiday begins, allowing more people to join the so-called umbrella revolution. Demonstrators booed the Chinese flag and jeered chief executive C.Y. Leung—but their demands for his resignation are unlikely to succeed.

Oil prices could start slipping. The US Energy Information Administration will publish a report on how much crude oil the US is stockpiling. Investors say reserves have increased by 1.5 million barrels in just one week, potentially driving the price of oil to below $90 a barrel.

Shanghai’s polluters face astronomical fines. China’s largest city will start enforcing what it claims is the “strictest air protection law” in the country. Maximum fines will reach 500,000 yuan ($81,450)—five times the current level, and some businesses could be shut down until they comply.

Try the new Windows. Microsoft will make available a “technical preview” of Windows 10, which it announced on Tuesday, skipping Windows 9. The final release will be in mid-to-late 2015. The highlight feature is the return of the familiar start menu that, to many users’ annoyance, disappeared in Windows 8.

While you were sleeping

Ebola reached the United States… An unnamed man was diagnosed with the Ebola virus in Dallas, Texas, after coming to the US from Liberia. The head of the US Centers for Disease Control said he has “no doubt we will stop this in its tracks,” and indeed it is almost impossible for the disease to spread in the United States—but shares of drug firms spiked anyway.

…As Nigeria got its outbreak under control. All known Ebola patients in the country are now being treated and no new cases have been reported for a month. Senegal has also not had any new cases for a month, and its only patient has recovered.

The UK joined the battle against the Islamic State. The Royal Air Force said its jets destroyed an armored truck and a “heavy weapon position” in Iraq. Kurdish forces said the attacks helped them win control of an area near the Iraq-Syria border.

China and Japan factory activity was steady. China’s official purchasing managers’ index was 51.1 in September, the same as in August. Japan’s Markit/JMMA PMI ticked down slightly to 51.7 from 52.2 the previous month.

Reddit tapped celebrities and Silicon Valley for funding. The social media site raised $50 million from rapper Snoop Dogg and actor Jared Leto along with venture capitalists  Marc Andreessen and Peter Thiel, valuing it at a reported $500 million. Investors will also give 10% of their shares to Reddit users, who monitor the site and perform crucial maintenance tasks.

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Quartz obsession interlude

Lily Kuo on how Hong Kong’s protest has spread beyond students. “What started as a pro-democracy movement mainly among the city youth—sparked by student activists as well as another pro-democracy group, Occupy Hong Kong—is starting to capture a broad cross-section of the city’s population of seven million. … Teachers in at least 31 secondary schools are boycotting classes … one of the city’s most influential trade groups, the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, has called on workers to strike and demonstrate at protest sites.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The rich are so rich they’re invisible. And that’s why normal people don’t care about the wealth gap (paywall).

Putin can be stopped… Boost NATO spending and force the EU to adopt a cohesive energy policy.

…So can the Islamic State. Offer a disenfranchised youth alternatives to radicalization.

There’s one surefire way to ensure uncorrupt officials. Make them post their finances online, like this official in China.

Unemployment is undermining marriage. Young Americans are unlikely to wed someone who doesn’t have a steady paycheck.

Surprising discoveries

Climate change can alter gender birth ratios. Male fetus deaths spike in months with extreme weather.

An eight-decker ice cream cone is on sale in Japan. It’s a precarious bargain at 390 yen ($3.60).

Sweden’s sewage is under surveillance. Sensors in Stockholm detect bomb-making chemicals.

The game of Tetris has a plot. At least Hollywood thinks it does.

Paper or paper? Single-use plastic bags are now banned in California.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

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Quartz Daily Brief—#Pfizer’s tax try, #US probes #Pimco, #RBS floats Citizens, #London supermarket mushrooms

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Obama addresses the UN. The US president’s speech will discuss the Islamic State again, but the real question is whether David Cameron will announce more British military support. The prime minister may recall parliament to vote on airstrikes as early as Thursday.

BlackBerry’s future is square. The troubled Canadian smartphone maker is holding three events around the world to show off the Passport, a handset with a 4.5- by 4.5-inch display, which it hopes will do better than last year’s disastrous BlackBerry 10.

Will the ruble bounce back? Moscow is set to auction 10 billion rubles ($259 million) worth of bonds in the country’s first debt sale in 10 weeks. Russia’s currency has depreciated 15% against the dollar this year.

Gloom in Germany. The Ifo Institute business climate index is expected to show that corporate confidence levels have hit a 16-month low. Trouble with Russia and a slow recovery are to blame.

A look at US house sales. The Mortgage Bankers’ Association releases its mortgage purchase application index, and the Census Bureau releases new-home sales data.

While you were sleeping

Pfizer tried again for a tax inversion. The US drug company has expressed interest in acquiring Actavis, a smaller rival with a market value of $63.6 billion that recently moved its headquarters to Ireland for tax purposes, according to Bloomberg. The Obama administration is trying to restrict tax inversion deals, but is not blocking them completely.

Starbucks placed a bet on green tea frappuccinos. The coffee chain will spend $913.5 million buying the 61% of its Japanese business it doesn’t already own from public shareholders and Sazaby League, which formed a joint venture with Starbucks in 1996. Starbucks thinks it can sell more ready-made beverages in Japan, where they are popular.

The biggest US port was out of commission. The Port of Los Angeles, a gateway between the US west coast and the Pacific rim, was shut down due to a stubborn fire. Seven of the eight port terminals were re-opened as of 6pm local time on Tuesday.

US regulators investigated Pimco. The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into whether the bond giant inflated the rate of returns for a fund aimed at small investors, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall).

A Scotland spin-off that worked, sort of. The Royal Bank of Scotland, which is 80%-owned by the British government, floated 25% of its stake in Citizens Financial for $3 billion. But the partial IPO of the US retail and commercial bank didn’t go perfectly: shares sold for $21.50 per share, below the anticipated $23-$25 range.

Japan’s factory activity stabilized. The Markit/JMMA flash manufacturing purchasing managers’ index fell to 51.7 in September, from 52.4 in August, but factory output rose to its highest level in six months, suggesting possible confidence in the domestic economy hit by a sales tax rise earlier this year. Japan will analyze June-September data when deciding whether or not to raise the sales tax again, from 8% to 10%.

Samsung pulled back in Europe. The Korean tech giant will reportedly stop selling laptops and Chromebooks in the region, despite reports that the PC market is bouncing back. Separately, a Samsung executive promised that the company’s mobile business would rebound “due to its strong fundamentals and technological prowess.”

Quartz obsession interlude

Max Nisen on how wildly high CEO pay has become. “In the US, the average CEO makes an estimated 354 times as much an average unskilled worker ($12,259,894 vs. $34,645). People all around the world are broadly unaware of how wide the pay gap is, and they are almost universally of the opinion that CEOs should be paid much, much less… According to the survey data, people in the US think that the ideal pay gap between an unskilled worker and a CEO is 6.9—or 50 times less than the real gap.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The US should bomb the Islamic State’s oil installations. It would hit the extremist group where it hurts the most.

Threats against Emma Watson are an affront to all women. The actress is under attack for her gender equality campaign.

Sweden is no longer a role model. Economic inequality is growing, the left is losing popularity, and benefits are being cut.

Climate change refugees should be given asylum. Countries that that buy and sell fossil fuels owe new homes to people driven from theirs.

The German economic powerhouse is a myth. The country isn’t driving growth in the euro zone, and is spreading economic instability.

Surprising discoveries

“Mohammed” is the most popular baby name in Israel. The government was forced to backtrack after initially releasing a list with only Hebrew names.

London is the world’s most expensive city, displacing Hong Kong as the costliest place to both live and work in due to rising rents and the strong pound.

San Francisco redefines business casual. Say hello to the “Suitsy“, a one-piece garment that tries hard to look like a typical suit.

A restauranteur in China put opium in his noodles. He was caught when police drug-tested one of his patrons.

A new species of mushroom has been discovered. Not in an untouched jungle or on on an unexplored mountain, but in a London supermarket.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, black tie jumpsuits, and new mushroom species to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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Quartz Daily Brief—#Scotland’s vote results, #Alibaba’s unveiling, Larry #Ellison out, airplane food delivered

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Scotland gets real. Preliminary results suggest that the “No” vote against independence is receiving more support than anticipated. As of press time “No” is leading with 53.8%, ahead of “Yes” with 46.2%, with 21 of 32 councils reporting. Glasgow supported the “Yes” vote, 53.5%-46.5%.

Alibaba shares the love. The Chinese e-commerce giant will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker “BABA.” The company priced shares in its IPO at $68 after Thursday’s market close; it is expected to raise nearly $21.8 billion on a valuation of $168 billion.

All hail the new iPhone. Apple’s long-awaited iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are out today in Australia, the US, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, and the UK. Customers bought 4 million phones on the first day pre-orders were available, setting a pace to best Apple’s record of 9 million iPhone sales in an opening weekend. Here’s how to decide which one to buy.

Hold onto your volatility hats. Four stock futures and options contracts expire today in a quarterly phenomenon called “quadruple witching,” which often leads to frantic trading and market gyrations. Add to that the market-moving Scottish election results, US stocks hitting all-time highs, and the Alibaba IPO, and the ride looks even rockier.

An independence bid in Barcelona. The Catalan parliament is expected to call for a Nov. 9 vote on independence from Spain. Madrid has said that the referendum is unconstitutional (paywall).

While you were sleeping

The UN Security Council sounded the alarm on Ebola. Ebola is a “threat to international peace and security,” the council said after its first-ever emergency meeting to deal with a public health issue. In Oxford, England, the first human subject began a trial of a GlaxoSmithKline vaccination against Ebola. Meanwhile, eight people, including three doctors and three journalists, were murdered in southeast Guinea near where the outbreak began.

The US Senate approved aid for Syrian rebels. President Obama has been given approval with a vote of 78-22 for his plan to train and arm rebels in their fight against the Islamic State, which just released a new video of a captive British journalist named John Cantlie.

A typhoon shut down Manila. The Philippine capital shuttered its government offices and financial markets as the storm known as “Mario” caused severe flooding.

Japan’s economic outlook got bleaker. The world’s third largest economy downgraded its forecast due to lower consumer consumption, caused by bad weather and a bigger-than-expected impact from a sales tax increase.

SAP buys into the cloud. The German business software giant acquired the online travel expenses company Concur (paywall) for $8.3 billion in an effort to expand its web services offerings to corporations. Seattle-based Concur is a rare survivor of the first dotcom boom.

Microsoft fired 2,100 employees in its second round of layoffs, part of a plan announced in July to cut 18,000 jobs, or 14% of the company’s total workforce. The housecleaning is an attempt to streamline operations after the acquisition of Nokia’s Devices and Services division, which added 25,000 employees to Microsoft’s payroll.

Larry Ellison is out as Oracle’s CEO. The surprise shift is effective immediately. Ellison becomes executive chairman of the board and chief technology officer. Longtime Oracle executives Safra Catz and Mark Hurd will become co-CEOs.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on why Homer Simpson’s beer mantra is a lot like China’s approach to real estate. “[J]ust like alcohol, China’s property construction sector—which [the country] relies on to drive up to a fifth of its GDP—is at once “the cause of, and solution to” if not all, then many, of its economic problems. That’s because even though this over-reliance makes the country’s economy unusually vulnerable to home-sale slumps—and financial risks—the government has in the past rescued its swooning economy by—you guessed it—encouraging more real estate investment.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Vladimir Putin loves rumors. His comments about invading neighboring capitals were taken out of context, but the speculation helps him anyway.

Ken Burns doesn’t understand the Roosevelts. The documentarian’s latest is heavy on character but light on politics.

Midlife crises are biologically coded. We should acknowledge their existence and adjust accordingly.

Interning is the new volunteering. It looks good on a resume, and interns are less prone to flaking out.

Surprising discoveries

You can get airplane food delivered to your house, for some reason. German subscribers get a weekly business class meal—this week it’s “Arabic seafood” or panserotti with porcini mushrooms.

Wal-Mart Mexico is being investigated for holding a cockfight. A spokesman said the roosters were unarmed and uninjured.

South Koreans are splurging on job application mugshots. Some recruiters believe that photos trump other resume details.

Dogs can be pessimists. Though it’s unclear how common it is to see the water bowl as half-empty.

North Korea wrote a 50,000-page report on its human rights record. It concluded that things are going pretty well. The UN disagrees.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, gourmet airline meals, and ethical cockfights to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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Quartz Daily Brief—#Scotland votes, #Alibaba’s IPO prices, #Hyundai’s Gangnam splurge, #Germans pay cash

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Scots say “aye” or “nay.” After months of lobbying, Scotland’s independence referendum starts at 7am UK time and ends at 10pm; results will start arriving early Friday morning. The latest opinion poll puts the “no” vote ahead by only 52-48, though bookmakers are giving “no” fairly strong odds.

Alibaba names its price. The Chinese e-commerce giant will price its record-setting IPO, which could raise as much as $25 billion, ahead of the stock’s debut on the NYSE on Friday. Earlier this week, the company raised its share price range to $66-68 due to increased demand.

Ukraine’s president pays Obama a visit. Petro Poroshenko will seek military and economic aid during talks with the US president, amid a shaky ceasefire with separatists.

A tricky call for Switzerland. The Swiss central bank will probably leave its benchmark interest rate near zero and reaffirm the franc’s peg to the euro. But it might just take the rate into negative territory, in reaction to last week’s similar move by the European Central Bank.

A possible purge of Pakistan’s protestors. Prime minister Nawaz Sharif has threatened to clear a camp of demonstrators in Islamabad, led by cricket star and opposition leader Imran Khan, who are calling for his resignation.

While you were sleeping

Australia said it foiled a beheading plot. More than 800 police officers conducted raids across the country and detained 15 suspects who were allegedly planning to commit violent acts at the behest of an Australian who is part of the Islamic State extremist group. According to court documents, the suspects planned to abduct and behead a random Sydney resident on camera.

The Fed saw the light at the end of the QE tunnel. The Federal Reserve announced it will cut monthly bond-buying by $10 billion in October as it steps back from the unconventional monetary policies adopted during the Great Recession. It didn’t change its promise to keep interest rates low for a “considerable time.”

US logistics contractors were hacked by China. Around 50 infiltrations against private companies responsible for moving military personnel and weapons took place in 2012 and 2013, according to a US senate investigation. At least 20 of the attacks are thought to have been carried out by hackers from the Chinese government; Beijing denied any involvement.

China’s property squeeze tightened. Official data showed a month-on-month fall in property prices in 68 of the 70 major cities surveyed in August, compared with 64 cities in July. Average prices fell 1.1% in August.

Apple launched iOS 8. Millions of iPhone users eagerly tried to download the latest operating system and got stuck on discovering they’d need 5.7 GB of free space. (You can get around that by downloading it to a computer instead.) The new OS is getting good reviews, but read this before you upgrade.

Obama got the go-ahead to arm and train Syrian rebels. The US house of representatives approved a $500 million plan to help the rebels fighting the Islamic State. Meanwhile, after remarks by a top general saying the US might send in ground forces, Iraq prime minister Haider al-Abadi said the return of foreign troops would not be allowed.

Hyundai made a Gangnam Style splurge. The Korean conglomerate successfully bid more than $10 billion on a plot of land in Seoul’s exclusive Gangnam district, trumping an offer from Samsung. Hyundai shares fell 4%; the property was appraised at only $3 billion.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips on why Germans love paying in cash. “[T]heir attitudes toward currency must owe something to Germany’s tumultuous monetary history. During the Weimar-era hyperinflation that peaked in 1923, prices rose roughly a trillion-fold, as Germany attempted to pay its onerous war reparations with devalued marks. The sheer lunacy of the sums involved make this everyone’s favorite hyperinflation.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Investors should be terrified of Alibaba. Chairman Jack Ma is trustworthy, but the corrupt, opaque Chinese political system isn’t.

U2 is the new Nickelback. Everybody hates the band because it wants so much to be liked.

Russians and Scots have something in common. Their nationalism outweighs rational economic thinking.

Space travel isn’t just for governments anymore. It’s time for NASA to leave low Earth orbit work to the private sector.

Surprising discoveries

New York City is looking to hire a new blacksmith. The annual pay is $100,725.12.

An American man was caught trying to swim to North Korea. He wanted to meet Kim Jong-un.

There’s a black market for pumpkin spice latte syrup. The pilfered Starbucks ingredient can fetch up to $120 per jug.

A English couple has been holding hands for 700 years. Archeologists found their skeletons in a 14th-century pilgrimage site.

David Hume’s wine cellar may still be intact. The Scottish philosopher’s last dinner party was on July 4, 1776. 

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, blacksmithing applications, and illicit coffee flavorings to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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Quartz Daily Brief—#US stimulus cut, #China stimulus boost, #Hollande’s lucky escape, unhappy clams

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

The end of QE is nigh. The US Federal Reserve is expected to cut back bond purchases by an additional $10 billion to $15 billion a month as it wraps up its two-day policy meeting. That would put the two-year-old program of quantitative easing on track to end in October—could the next step be an interest-rate hike?

Xi visits India. The Chinese president meets Indian prime minister Narendra Modi in his home state of Gujarat, as the two nationalist leaders discuss an expanded economic partnership. One potential sticking point: Modi has been enjoying quite the bromance with Japan’s Shinzo Abe.

FedEx tries to beat expectations. The shipping company’s ambitious full-year profit target will get its first status check (paywall) with the release of fiscal first-quarter results. So far, demand for air and truck freight has been high.

Scotland’s final opinion polls trickle in. The most recent survey shows support for independence rising to 48%, despite UK leaders promising more autonomy if Scotland stays in the union.

Mount Mayon rumbles on. Authorities have evacuated thousands of people within a five-mile radius of the Philippine volcano after lava began to trickle out of the crater on Tuesday. Scientists predict Mayon could violently erupt within weeks.

While you were sleeping

China announced a new stimulus measure. Its central bank will inject 500 billion yuan ($81.4 billion) of liquidity into five state-run banks to encourage lending, following further signs of slowing economic growth.

Endo offered $2.2 billion for Auxilium Pharmaceuticals. The Dublin-based maker of men’s healthcare products said it made an offer that was 30% over Auxilium’s closing price last Friday but has yet to receive a response.

Indonesian politicians want to change the rules. A coalition of parties that lost this year’s general election launched an attempt to revert to a system in which local assemblies, not voters, choose regional leaders. Populist president-elect Joko Widodo opposes the move, which will go to a vote next week.

Softbank’s founder became the richest man in Japan. Masayoshi Son’s net worth rose 3.4% to $16.6 billion on Tuesday, according to Bloomberg. Softbank’s 34% stake in Alibaba is a significant driver of his wealth, as the Chinese company’s IPO on Friday is shaping up to be the largest ever.

America ordered up two spaceships. US space agency NASA will pay Boeing $4.2 billion and SpaceX $2.6 billion to each build a replacement for the space shuttle to ferry astronauts and satellites to orbit. Boeing is considered “the least risky option” (paywall), but upstart SpaceX’s system is cheaper and doesn’t rely on imported Russian parts.

François Hollande’s government barely survived. The French president’s new cabinet narrowly won a confidence vote in parliament, 269 to 244. Abstentions and no-shows put the result 20 votes short of an absolute majority (paywall), meaning Hollande lacks support for his planned pro-business policies.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips on the lost quarter-century of the American family. “Effectively, inflation-adjusted US median household incomes are still about 1% below where they were in 1989. That’s nearly 25 years ago. And median household incomes are still 9% below the all-time peak back in 1999, when they were $56,895… On the other hand, salaries on the high end of the spectrum have rebounded quite nicely.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

China needs to pull its weight on Ebola. Its aid is paltry compared to the investments it’s making in the region.

The Islamic State should be allowed to be a state. The extremist group would fail spectacularly and discredit themselves.

Credit may not drive economic growth. It’s a widely-held finance truism but nobody has ever proved it.

Harvard Business School is ruining America. It’s uniquely responsible for the pay gap between CEOs and ordinary workers.

You can’t be as “happy as a clam.” Clams don’t have emotions, and even if they did, they’d have little to be happy about.

Surprising discoveries

Angry Pakistanis shouted a politician off of their plane. He kept the flight waiting on the tarmac for two hours.

Angry Ukrainians dumped a politician into a rubbish bin. They were displeased with his vote in support of amnesty for pro-Russian rebels.

Venezuela is running out of breast implants. In the latest symptom of the country’s economic crisis, doctors are turning to cheap Chinese implants of dubious quality.

What’s bigger than a giant squid? A colossal squid. The second intact specimen ever found weighed 350kg (770lb).

Samsung is making a “musicom.” The sitcom-with-music isn’t the first of its kind for the company.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, acts of populist outrage, and surplus breast implants to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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Quartz Daily Brief—#Hollande’s confidence vote, #Alibaba’s raised price, Hong Kong’s typhoon, self-weighing suitcases

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Hong Kong is shut down by Typhoon Kalmaegi. The stock exchange is closed and flights are cancelled, though trading may resume later in the day.

Hollande’s moment of truth. The French president’s new cabinet faces a confidence vote. Any major rebellion by Hollande’s Socialist Party could force new elections and open the door to the right-wing National Front.

The world’s two largest beer companies inch towards a tie-up. Anheuser-Busch InBev is reportedly talking to banks about funding a bid for SABMiller that could be worth up to $122 billion. Together, the companies control a third of the world’s beer supply.

Obama ramps up the fight against Ebola. The US president will announce plans to conduct healthcare training and send portable hospitals, doctors and medical supplies to West Africa. Liberia has asked for extra help as the virus threatens to overwhelm the country.

Air France strikes, Lufthansa doesn’t. Some 60% of Air France pilots walked out on Monday, and that was just the first day of a week of planned strikes (if you’re flying, check flight schedules here). Lufthansa pilots just called off plans for their own strike.

While you were sleeping

Alibaba bumped up its IPO price. As a result of strong demand, the Chinese e-commerce giant said it would raise the deal’s price range to $66-$68 a share, from $60-$66 previously. The company is in the midst of its roadshow’s Asia leg, ahead of what could be the biggest IPO in history on Friday.

The US raised pressure on China over anti-competitive behavior. US treasury secretary Jacob Lew wrote to vice premier Wang Yang accusing Beijing of singling out foreign companies, which have come under intense scrutiny from Chinese regulators in recent months.

Rival UK leaders wooed Scotland. Conservative prime minister David Cameron, Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, and Labour leader Ed Miliband made a new promise for powers for Scotland if it rejects independence. The secession referendum takes place on Thursday.

Orange offered $4.4 billion for Spain’s Jazztel. The French telecom joined the rush among European carriers to consolidate by offering an all-cash deal for the Spanish broadband firm.

America Movil courted buyers for its Mexico operations. The carrier approached AT&T and SoftBank to gauge their interest in $17.5 billion worth of assets, according to Bloomberg. Billionaire Carlos Slim is reducing his company’s market share in his home country to avoid antitrust regulations.

A massive pension system said no to hedge funds. The $298 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System (Calpers) is quitting hedge funds, saying they’re too expensive and complex for its investment portfolio.

Quartz obsession interlude

John McDuling on how Alibaba’s IPO is already creating headaches for Amazon. “Alibaba, the Chinese internet colossus, is expected to pull off the biggest IPO in history this week. It will sell more than $21 billion of stock, according to Renaissance Capital. The thing is, as MarketWatch points out, big investors need to free up capital to participate in the IPO. To do this, they are likely to sell shares of US e-commerce companies (to avoid over-exposure to the sector).  For better or worse, the closest comparable company to Alibaba in the US is Amazon. Ebay’s share price also is under pressure of late.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The UK is asking Scots the wrong question. The way the referendum is framed is likelier to lead to a “yes” vote.

China is partially to blame for the rise of the Islamic State. And now China’s own Muslim dissidents may be finding common cause with IS.

Go ahead, let the kids play on your iPad. We’re all bad at parenting sometimes.

The tech boom has an expiration date. Silicon Valley is taking on too much risk (paywall).

Venezuela’s government should default on its debt. It’s better than defaulting on its obligation to its citizens—which is what it’s doing right now.

Surprising discoveries

7-Up used to contain lithium. The soda was also marketed as a drink to “dispel hangovers.”

The US is divided between those who say “uh” and those who say “um.” Here’s a map of who says what where.

Israel has a giant stone monument older than the pyramids. The 5,000-year-old crescent-shaped object was discovered via a satellite image.

Egypt has the wrong canal on its stamps. They were meant to celebrate the expansion of the Suez Canal, but they show the Panama Canal instead.

Never worry about overweight luggage again. A $200 pledge on Kickstarter could get you a self-weighing suitcase.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, vintage 7-Up, and regional dialect divides to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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Quartz Weekend Brief—#Apple’s comeback, reinventing breast pumps, fixing #Iraq, #Scottish aristocrats

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

Since Steve Jobs died in 2011, the question surrounding Apple has been: Is its incredible run about to end? Once Tim Cook’s engineers and designers exhausted Jobs’ final product roadmap, would Apple slump into inevitable decline?

At this week’s massive unveiling event in California, complete with private U2 concert, the company answered convincingly “no.” Its big, new iPhones are arguably its most handsome yet. Its mobile-payments system will launch in the US with unprecedented support, including deals with the biggest credit-card companies and banks. And the company placed arguably its biggest bet since the original iPhone in 2007: the Apple Watch, a hybrid device that combines utility with fashion.

The watch is a bold call that the future of computing is beautiful, intimate, and wearable—or that the future of wrist jewelry is in its chipset. It signals that Apple can still innovate; it’s been praised both for its watch qualities and its gadget qualities.

However, whether it will become a giant hit is something we won’t know until it goes on sale next year. The iPad too had its skeptics at first, until the sales figures silenced them.

What if the watch is only a modest success, or worse, a flop? That may re-energize Cook’s naysayers. But it’s worth remembering that the iPhone accounts for over half the company’s revenue, and its new, larger screen sizes could even steal market share back from the bigger phones Samsung and Google have been making for a while. And so what if they got there first? Many of Steve Jobs’ best ideas were borrowed; he just executed them better. If Apple can keep doing that, it may not need blockbuster innovations to be a success.—Dan Frommer

Five things on Quartz we especially liked

The Chinese moguls who may revolutionize the way you shop. O2O isn’t a molecule: It’s online-to-offline retail, a form of shopping that Western megastore chains are increasingly using as a defensive play against the likes of Amazon. Gwynn Guilford explains how the peculiarities of China’s retail landscape means the real innovations in O2O could come from there.

The slow, sad decline of RadioShack. “As Hemingway wrote… there’s a very simple answer to the question, ‘How you go bankrupt? Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.’ We seem to be just about finished with the gradual part.” In nine damning charts, Matt Phillips makes the case for the iconic electronics store’s impending demise.

Non-parents are better off than parents in every respect—except one. John Dick of the polling platform CivicScience reports on its survey of a million American adults, which finds that, compared with their childless counterparts, parents report being more stressed, less healthy, less free, more cash-strapped… and happier.

Finally, a hackathon for something useful. If you’ve never used a breast pump, Mitra Kalita would like you to know just how awful they are. Luckily, the MIT Media Lab has decided to bring dozens of technologists and other experts together for its fall hackathon to design a better one.

Ten things we learned at New York Fashion Week. From the “torso triangle” to “flatforms” to Amish ninjas to “menswear, womenswear, what’s the difference?”—Jenni Avins, having braved a week’s worth of runway shows and fashion parties, brings you the all-in-one illustrated guide to the season’s most important trends.

Five things elsewhere that made us smarter

The rise and likely fall of the talent economy. Since the mid-20th century brains have overtaken natural resources as the basis of America’s biggest companies. But, argues Roger Martin in the Harvard Business Review, as those brains make ever more money on trading assets rather than building them, a correction is needed to prevent wealth from concentrating and the social compact from breaking down.

The shameful secret of attraction. Anne Helen Petersen did an experiment: She built a fake version of the dating app Tindr to figure out what governs people’s attraction to others. The outcome, she writes on Buzzfeed: “We’re constantly inventing narratives” about people based on subtle signs in their photos. “We swipe… because of semiotics.”

How to rethink humanitarian aid. After over a century, the aid-agency model—shuttling resources from rich countries to poor ones—no longer works, argues Paul Currion in Aeon. He argues that humanitarian aid needs to become less about institutions and more about global networks that create a more equal relationship between the victims of disaster and those trying to help them.

Why Iraq is so hard to fix. ISIL may be grabbing the headlines now with its barbarism. But the four books that Max Rodenbeck surveys in the New York Review provide sobering accounts, both fictional and factual (indeed, he observes, “fiction here seems merely to be more concise than fact”) of the institutional and cultural patterns that have steeped Iraq in blood and conflict, and promise to keep doing so long after ISIL is gone.

Aristocrats against Scottish independence. Some 400 people own half the private land in Scotland. In a story as delightfully quirky as its subjects, Sophia Money-Coutts of Tatler checks in on their castles to find that the nobility—such as the marvelously-monikered Peregrine Moncreiffe of That Ilk—are distinctly cool on the idea of secession. “What if Salmond imposes a mansion tax?” asks one plaintive duchess. “We’re done for.”

Our best wishes for a relaxing but thought-filled weekend. Please send any news, comments, Tindr profile pictures, and Scottish wealth declarations to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

You’re getting the Europe and Africa edition of the Quartz Daily Brief. To change your region, click here. We’d also love it if you shared this email with your friends. They can sign up for free here.