Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Apple buys Topsy, Vatican finances, Biden tours Asia, genetic memories

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What to watch for today

Detroit’s bankruptcy status. A federal judge will determine whether the city of Detroit is eligible to proceed with its bankruptcy filing after its application was challenged last month by public-employee unions and pension funds.

Brazil’s shrinking economy. Analysts predict that Brazil’s GDP contracted by 0.2% in its third quarter, after growing by 1.5% last quarter, dragged down by a fluctuating currency, weak consumer spending and fears of a future credit-rating downgrade.

South Africa’s yawning trade gap. The central bank is expected to report a current-account deficit of 6.5% as imports far outstrip exports, in part because strikes have slowed production at auto plants. The deficit may add to fears about the value of the rand, which could hurt foreign investment in South Africa and put pressure on reserves.

Light on the Vatican’s finances. Nunzio Scarano, a former Vatican accountant, goes on trial today following his arrest in June on allegations that he tried to smuggle €20 million ($27.1 million) into Italy from Switzerland—a case that is expected to expose financial corruption at the top of the Catholic Church.

While you were sleeping

Joe Biden began his Asia tour. The US vice president told Japan’s Asahi newspaper that the US is  “deeply concerned” about China’s newly established air defense zone. Biden will travel to Beijing and Seoul in the coming days.

China’s yuan is second in trade finance. The currency, also known as the renminbi, surpassed the euro in October, rising to 8.66% of market share, up from 1.89% in January, 2012. The US dollar is still in first place, with a 81.08% share.

Apple bought Topsy. The tech titan paid more than $200 million for the data analytics firm, which spots trends as they appear on Twitter.

PC shipments will continue falling. Research firm IDC said global PC shipments will fall 10.1% this year, more than an estimated 9.7%, with sales having slipped for six straight quarters as consumers shift to mobile devices.

Massive power outage in Venezuela. The country’s second major electrical outage this year plunged much of the nation into darkness last night. President Nicolas Maduro accused his opponents of sabotaging the power grid.

Thai police stepped aside. Clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces came to an abrupt halt after police withdrew in an attempt to defuse the fighting.

Quartz obsession interlude

Christopher Mims on the real reason Amazon is experimenting with delivery-by-drone. “Technical hurdles aside, it’s likely that in the US, drones won’t even be approved to fly in the way that Amazon needs them to until 2020. But Amazon is nothing if not opportunistic. And Bezos has shown a willingness to push his company into services that are only vaguely related to Amazon’s core mission of eating the world of retail.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Don’t hate on chemistry. The “bad boy of the sciences” is unfairly targeted: Chemicals, both good and bad, are all around us in the world.

Dubai is redefining the Middle East. It’s the future of cities, trumping ancient capitals such as Baghdad and Cairo.

The US minimum wage is far too low. The case for raising it above the poverty line is both civic and moral.

Microsoft and Sony should know their customers better. Almost half of gamers are women, and yet sexism abounds in games marketing.

Surprising discoveries

Memories are genetic. Studies on mice show traumatic events can affect DNA, with memories passed down through generations.

What the 12 days of Christmas would actually cost. Here’s how much all those lords-a-leaping will set you back today. (Hint: It’s a lot.)

The winning tactic to Connect Four. This video shows you how never to lose again.

No monkey business. Activists want chimpanzees to be legally recognized as persons with rights.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments and partridge-in-a-pear-tree comparison shopping guides to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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