Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Mandela’s memorial, Volcker vote, US exits GM, crazy cold temperatures

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What to watch for today

Voting on the Volcker rule. US regulators will vote on whether to pass the Volcker rule, part of the Dodd-Frank “too big to fail” post-crisis reforms, and are expected to prohibit most trading done by banks for their own profit.

The EU moves to calm Ukrainian riots. Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, travels to Ukraine in an attempt to ease the crisis as police encircled demonstrators and raided the opposition party’s offices.

Sweden’s biggest IPO in seven years. Shares in Sanitec, a bath and toilet maker, list on Stockholm’s stock exchange. They are expected to go for 60-63 crowns (around $9.50 per share), which would value the flotation at up to $580 million and make it Sweden’s biggest IPO since 2006.

Mandela’s memorial. World leaders including US president Barack Obama, Cuba’s Raul Castro, and India’s Pranab Mukherjee will join massive crowds of mourners at a soccer stadium in Johannesburg for Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.

While you were sleeping

Thailand’s PM won’t quit. Yingluck Shinawatra vowed to remain in her post ahead of new national elections set for February 2. Protesters are demanding that she resign immediately.

Government Motors no more. The US Treasury Department sold its final shares in General Motors, marking the end of the automaker’s federal bailout. Taxpayers lost about $11 billion, but the investment was worth every penny.

Fannie and Freddie will raise their fees. The US government’s Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are set to increase the fees imposed on mortgage lenders so that private firms are more likely to re-enter the housing finance market.

Mars had a habitable lake. NASA’s Curiosity rover found evidence of a shallow body of water—about the size of one of New York’s Finger Lakes—that could have been a credible environment for life.

Australian business confidence slipped. The National Australian Bank survey for November fell to 5 after hitting 6 in October and 12 in September as the country’s GDP growth slows.

Atheists face execution in 13 countries. A new report from the International Humanist and Ethical Union finds people in 13 countries who embrace atheism or reject Islam can be subject to execution. That’s six more nations than last year.

Quartz obsession interlude

Roberto Ferdman on how stubble’s return to fashion is hurting the shaving industry. “The male shaving sector has slowed down in both the US and Europe this year, and that’s at least in part due to the rising popularity of stubble, according to a recent report from Euromonitor. A move away from a culture of everyday shaving and towards one in which men embrace an artfully trimmed permanent two-day shadow—or, indeed, a full beard—has pinched some of the industry’s largest players.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Broke musicians shouldn’t blame Spotify. Consumers just aren’t that interested in paying much for music anymore.

The US and Canada should merge. The already-similar neighbors could benefit from a monetary and customs union (paywall) or simply eliminating their border.

Academic journals are killing science. The pressure to make headlines is causing researchers to cut corners, says this year’s winner of the medicine Nobel Prize.

The foie gras stimulus. France exported €1.36 billion ($1.84 billion) of fattened duck and goose livers last year.

Surprising discoveries

A new all-time coldest temperature. New satellite data from NASA showed temperatures in Antarctica have hit -135.8F (-94.7C), beating an older record.

Meet the “mass affluent.” Fully one fifth of US adults will be part of the “new rich” at some point in their lives, with household income of $250,000 or more.

The World Cup of fashion. Nike is named after the Greek goddess of victory, but the odds of outfitting the soccer World Cup champion are in Adidas’ favor.

There’s already an app for that. Hundreds of startups pitch themselves as slight variations of existing apps.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, app pitches and ridiculously cold temperatures to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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