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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe Edition—Obama’s immigration reforms, Nintendo’s “Smash” hit, Japanese real estate, leave those leaves

By Richard Macauley
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

Ferguson gets justice—maybe. A grand jury’s decision on the fate of police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in August, may come as early as today. If so, the public may not learn of it until Sunday as law enforcement is expected to get two days’ advance notice. Missouri’s governor has already ordered the National Guard to come in, just in case riots break out.

Nintendo tries to catch up. The Japanese company is hoping the release of the highly anticipated video game “Super Smash Bros” will turn its poor performance around after sales of the Wii U console have trailed Sony’s Playstation 4.

Uber rides get a touch more high-tech. Today is the first day where Uber drivers in Singapore and at least nine other cities will be able to offer their riders the ability to listen to their own Spotify playlists while being transported from A to B. That innovation is likely to be overshadowed by Uber’s latest public relations mess.

North American GDP. Canada’s annualized inflation rate is expected to stay put at 2% in October, in line with the Bank of Canada’s target. Mexico’s third-quarter GDP is expected to have grown 2.3% from a year earlier, which may be low enough to encourage the government to rethink its annual growth target of 2.7%.

While you were sleeping

Barack Obama announced major immigration reform. The US president said he would sign an executive order allowing almost 5 million people who came to the US as children, or who are parents of citizens or permanent residents, to stay without the threat of deportation. The ruling bypasses Congress but can be overturned by a future president.

Blackstone bet on Japanese real estate. The world’s largest private equity investor in real estate bought GE Japan’s property unit for over 190 billion yen ($1.6 billion). Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s promise to end deflation, coupled with a weakening yen, has made Japanese property more attractive to international investors, despite a surprise recession this week.

The Federal Reserve began an internal review. The reserve bank will examine how it assesses the US’s most systemically important banks, following criticisms it is too deferential towards institutions it supervises, including Goldman Sachs.

UK reporters take the police to court. The National Union of Journalists filed a lawsuit against London’s Metropolitan Police and the British Home Office after it obtained evidence that police spent years spying on reporters. Records held by police included details of one journalist’s partner and even family members’ medical histories.

Another gun-toter outside the White House. A 23-year-old woman carrying an unregistered handgun was arrested outside the US president Barack Obama’s residence, just 15 minutes after he finished his immigration reform speech. She is the second person to be arrested for carrying arms near the White House this week.

Quartz obsession interlude

Daniel Medina found out there’s more than meets the eye. “When the Swedish journalist Jenny Nordberg set out for Afghanistan in 2009, she went to report a TV documentary on the progress of Afghan women since the US invasion. What she found herself drawn to, however, was a different story: bacha posh, a traditional Afghan practice in which girls are chosen by their families to live as boys.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Obama’s immigration speech is meaningless nonsense. He tried to make his non-amnesty sound better than an amnesty.

Putin doesn’t need guns and tanks to capture Ukraine. All he has to do is shake some hands, because people in the East love him already.

Democrats have officially lost the south. America’s southern half bleeds Republican (paywall).

Keystone XL should have passed. And the pipeline’s fiercest opponents compromised their progressive values to rail against it.

The best places to find a job are also the most expensive places to live. So what are millennials supposed to do?

It’s not worth it to go to college. But it’s also risky to not go, which puts young people in a tricky spot.

Surprising discoveries

The world’s oldest basketball court is in France. It has iron pillars running through the middle.

Don’t rake those leaves. Leaving them au naturel is far better for wildlife.

Argentina has a national soccer team for blind athletes. They’re called The Bats.

Beauty isn’t enough. This year’s Miss France contestants had to take a general knowledge exam; it includes an English test and questions about history and politics.

Obesity is having as much impact on the global economy as smoking. It costs $2 trillion a year to treat, when you include related illnesses.

Complex jobs can help your memory. A study from Scotland provides a new reason to make sure your work engages you.

Shoveling snow is a dangerous activity. The stress it puts on the heart makes people more likely to go into cardiac arrest.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, leaf piles, and snow blowers to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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