Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Obama’s immigration reforms, Japan’s parliament dissolves, UKIP’s victory, leave those leaves alone

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What to watch for today

A verdict in Ferguson—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 hear 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, in case of another outbreak of unrest.

A new leader for Mongolia. It’s Saikhanbileg Chimed’s first day as prime minister after being elected by a large majority of parliament (although MPs boycotted the vote). Chimed’s Democratic Party is struggling to boost a mining-driven economy that was recently the fastest growing in the world, but has suffered from falling commodity prices, a weak currency, and a struggling banking sector.

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. 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 when Uber drivers in nine cities will be able to offer riders the ability to stream to their own Spotify playlists while being transported from A to B. That modest innovation is likely to be overshadowed by Uber’s latest public relations fiasco.

North American economic data. Canada’s annualized inflation rate is expected to stay put at 2% in October, in line with the central bank’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 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.

Japan’s prime minister dissolved parliament two years early. Shinzo Abe paved the way for mid-December elections, seeking to bolster popular backing to push ahead with his economic reforms. The act may have been unnecessary; a Kyodo news agency poll found 63% of people don’t understand the need for a snap election.

The UK shifted right. UKIP, a political party that wants the UK to curb immigration and leave the European Union, won its second seat in parliament. The new MP is the old MP—the vote was triggered when Mark Reckless, the incumbent in a seat in Kent, defected to UKIP from prime minister David Cameron’s Conservative party.

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). The Japanese government’s pledge to end deflation, coupled with a weakening yen, has made the country’s property sector more attractive to international investors.

Rolls-Royce won a $5 billion contract from Delta. The British industrial group will make engines for 50 new Airbus planes. It was welcome news for Rolls-Royce, which recently announced 2,600 job cuts following a series of profit warnings.

UK reporters took 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 was caught outside the White House. A 23-year-old woman carrying an unregistered handgun was arrested outside the president’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 on an intriguing practice in Afghanistan. “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

American students need to study more humanities. The current vacuum of arts in in schools abandons the young to pop culture.

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 restive east of the country love him already.

Democrats have officially lost the south. They have no hope of winning in the region’s “hardened, impenetrable citadels of ideological sameness“ (paywall).

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

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

President Obama was on a restaurant review TV show in 2001. Here’s a video of the then-state senator’s cameo on “Check, Please!”

People need cuddles. An Oregon “cuddle shop” received 10,000 enquiries in its first week.

Don’t rake those leaves. Leaving them scattered is better for wildlife.

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

Shoveling snow is a dangerous activity. The stress it puts on the heart increases the risk of cardiac arrest.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

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