Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Merkel’s deal, Thanksgiving without the balloons, Berlusconi’s fate, fake slums

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What to watch for today

Berlusconi’s fate will be decided. Italy’s senate votes today on whether to eject Silvio Berlusconi, the country’s scandal-ridden former prime minister, from his seat in the upper house following his conviction this summer of involvement in large-scale tax fraud. If expelled, Berlusconi would lose immunity from arrest.

Spain and Argentina patch things up. Spanish oil giant Repsol is expected to end an 18-month dispute by approving Argentina’s offer of $5 billion as compensation for seizing Repsol’s 51% stake in Argentine energy company YPC. It’s less than half of what Repsol asked for—and not in cash but Argentine government bonds, hardly a great guarantee.

Thanksgiving travel could get complicated. A storm is threatening the Northeast, and balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York may not fly Thursday if winds are too strong.

Thailand protests continue. The Bank of Thailand unexpectedly cut its key interest rate today by a quarter of a percentage point to 2.25%. The economy grew less than anticipated in the third quarter, and investors are concerned about attempts to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, with protests now spreading beyond the capital.

While you were sleeping

Merkel clinched a coalition deal. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party ended months of negotiations by sealing a pact with the Social Democrats that should see a new government established by Christmas. Meanwhile, German consumer sentiment rose to a six-year high.

Royal Mail’s profits rose. The UK postal service’s first half-year results since being floated saw its pre-tax profits rise to £233 million ($377 million), up from £94m ($152 million) from a year before thanks to its growing parcel business.

A Seattle suburb passed a $15 minimum wage. The voter initiative supporting a wage more than double the federal minimum will affect thousands of workers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and could be important for a nationwide push for livable wages.

Honduras’s new president named a transition team. Juan Orlando Hernandez said he’s moving forward in his new role even as about 200 students demonstrated for a recount after the hotly contested race.

China said it tracked US B-52s. The country’s said its air force “monitored the entire course and identified” the jets “in a timely way.” A US defense official earlier said two unarmed B-52 bombers had flown into the airspace above disputed islands in the East China Sea, which China at the weekend declared a no-go area for aircraft without prior permission.

Morgan Stanley’s China hiring faces scrutiny. The US Department of Justice is examining the bank’s hiring, part of a sweeping Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into potential violation of bribery laws, Reuters reported.

Quartz obsession interlude

Todd Woody on how Google Earth is busting Persian Gulf nations for overfishing. “Weapons-grade uranium isn’t the only thing Iran may be hiding. The country does not report its fishing catch to the United Nations, which is problematic given that the Persian Gulf, like other areas of the world, suffers from overfishing. But thanks to Google Earth, scientists now know that Iran hauls in more than 12,000 tonnes a year from 728 weirs, large structures built in intertidal zones to trap fish.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Corporate espionage is undemocratic. It’s not just the NSA; corporate spies have targeted various nonprofit civic groups and undermined American values, writes Ralph Nader.

Silicon Valley isn’t as meritocratic as it thinks. Behind its myth of a level digital playing field lies a closed system of privilege.

Abolish corporate income tax in the US. It’s driven domestic earnings abroad, lowering corporate taxes to just 10% of federal tax revenues.

“I Want to Hold Your Hand” is overrated. The Beatles released the song 50 years ago this month, prompting a series of reminiscences. But other singles from 1963 are just as important.

Surprising discoveries

Sea horses are stealthy predators. The creatures’ specially shaped noses create “no wake zones,” allowing them to sneak up on prey that can detect ripples in the water.

A fake slum for upscale tourists. A luxury hotel in Bloemfontein, South Africa created a hygienic shanty town for its guests.

Divine dieting. The latest fad in diets, called the “Daniel fast,” is based on the Bible.

A real glint in the eye. Surgically implanted platinum in the eyeball is the latest jewelry trend.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, biblical diets and eyeball adornments to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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