Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Mourning Mandela, new US job figures, World Cup draw, capturing waste heat

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What to watch for today

Jordan’s UN seat. The United Nations votes today on whether to offer Jordan a two-year seat on the UN Security Council—the same seat that Saudi Arabia rejected last month because of the UN’s failure to resolve the Syria conflict.

US job figures… November non-farm payrolls are out, and the unemployment rate is set to fall slightly to 7.2% from 7.3% in its first reading since the government shutdown, which likely distorted October’s reading.

…and consumer sentiment. The US also gets consumer sentiment figures today, expected to jump to 76.2 or higher from October’s 75.1, and data on personal income and spending. Both are good indicators of how retailers can expect to fare this holiday shopping season.

Bidding on waste. Today is the deadline to make a first-round offer for Transpacific Industries Group, New Zealand’s waste-management company, which has been valued at NZ$900 million ($737.4 million). Bids are expected from private equity giants Blackstone and Carlyle Group, among others.

The World Cup draw. At a ceremony in Costa do Sauípe, Brazil, the 32 teams taking part in this summer’s World Cup will find out which groups they’ll be in, which could determine their likelihood of progressing past the first round.

While you were sleeping

The world mourned Nelson Mandela. The anti-apartheid leader and former South African president passed away yesterday at the age of 95.  Today Archbishop Desmond Tutu spoke in Cape Town, while India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, and UK Prime Minister David Cameron, among others, expressed their sense of loss. Here are some of Mandela’s most memorable quotes.

Biden visited South Korea. The US vice president met with President Park Geun-hye and stressed Washington’s commitment to the region. “President Obama’s decision to rebalance to the Pacific Basin is not in question,’’ Biden said.

An aide to Kim Jong Un’s ousted uncle defected, according to South Korean media. The aide managed funds for Jang Song Thaek, who the North Korean leader recently fired; it could be Pyongyang’s most significant defection in years.

France sent troops to the Central African Republic. Just hours after the UN approved the action, France sent military reinforcements to Bangui, the CAR capital, to provide security following the deaths of almost 100 people in clashes yesterday.

Russian diplomats were charged with US healthcare fraud. 49 current and former officials and their families lied about their income in order to receive some $1.5 million in Medicaid benefits, American prosecutors say. Russia’s deputy foreign minister, meanwhile, criticized Washington for what he called an effort at “cheap PR.”

Qantas was downgraded. Standard and Poor’s downgraded Australia’s biggest carrier’s credit rating to junk; yesterday Qantas posted steep losses and announced it was cutting 1,000 jobs.

Gap’s sales grew. The clothing chain said revenue at its stores that have been open at least a year increased 2% last month from a year earlier, beating expectations.

Quartz obsession interlude

Christopher Mims on why Samsung just launched the world’s largest floating vessel. “The answer has everything to do with our current rush to exploit ever more remote and hard-to-reach sources of fossil fuels. Some are tucked away under the ocean floor in places where extracting them with conventional ships simply isn’t economical. But the Prelude, with an estimated construction cost of $12 billion, changes those economics.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Netflix is upending mass culture. And that’s good, because niche entertainment supplanting programming for the masses brings us closer to America’s founding ideals.

Bitcoins are worse than tulips. The former president of the Dutch Central Bank said speculation about the virtual currency is worse than 17th-century tulip mania—since at least tulips had some value.

Leave Nigella alone. The tabloid frenzy over the celebrity cook’s having dabbled in narcotics is just the latest ridiculous drug panic.

Art could save Detroit. It’s controversial to sell public art, but it could solve 10% of the bankrupt city’s debt problem.

Surprising discoveries

Capturing “waste heat.” Some European cities could capture hot air from trains, computer servers, garbage incinerators, and even sewers to heat buildings.

A monthly “sockscription.” A growing trend in the US: services that will send you a monthly delivery of socks.

Sometimes the old phones are best. Sir Philip Green, the British retail tycoon, uses a decade-old Nokia 6310 (paywall).

Girl talk for the GOP. Male Republican candidates in the US are being trained to talk to women without offending them.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, tips for talking to women and ancient cellphones to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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