Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Putin ditches pipeline, HIV is mellowing, Wanda-Lions Gate talks, Russian cop selfies

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What to watch for today

A new space race. European ministers meet in Luxembourg to discuss the continent’s space program—in particular, how its Ariane rocket can compete with SpaceX for commercial satellite launches, and how to fill the budget gap for a 2018 Mars rover mission.

NATO plots Putin countermoves. The group meets in Brussels to consider putting troops in the Baltics to ward off further aggression from Russia.

Obama’s latest showdown with Congress. The Republican-dominated House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing to determine whether the president’s executive order on immigration is constitutional.

Lufthansa remains grounded. It’s day two of a 36-hour pilot strike—the ninth that the German airline has faced this year. Unlike yesterday, when only shorter flights were grounded, Tuesday’s cancelations will include overseas and other long-haul flights.

While you were sleeping

Wanda Group is in talks to buy into Lions Gate. The Chinese property conglomerate’s chairman, Wang Jianlin, told Bloomberg he is interested in acquiring control of the movie studio but would also accept a minority stake. Wanda already owns AMC, the second-largest US cinema chain.

Vladimir Putin dropped a controversial gas pipeline. The Russian president announced Gazprom would no longer seek approval to build a pipeline that would have taken its gas directly to central and southern Europe, after opposition from the EU. Speaking during a visit to Turkey, Putin said Gazprom would instead consider a “gas hub” on the border of Turkey and Greece.

New evidence that North Korea hacked Sony. The malware tools that were used to penetrate Sony’s corporate network were similar to those used against South Korean TV stations and ATMs in an attack last year, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall). The FBI also warned companies about destructive malware that could render data on hard drives inaccessible.

HIV is becoming “milder.” The evolving virus is taking longer to cause AIDS in humans, and is being “watered down” as it adapts to human immune systems, a study from the University of Oxford has found. A new report also found that fewer people were diagnosed with HIV than were signed up for treatment in 2013, marking a turning point in combating the epidemic.

Japanese wages kept slipping. Total cash earnings excluding inflation, bonuses, and overtime, grew only 0.5% in October from a year earlier, the slowest pace in eight months (paywall).

Chevron brushed aside low oil prices. The US oil giant said it would continue its planned investment in Mexico’s oil industry despite plummeting crude prices. Ali Moshiri, head of exploration and production for Latin America and Africa, told Reuters the company would also continue to increase its shale production in Argentina.

Quartz obsession interlude

Kabir Chibber on the proliferation of the European right. ”Any changes to the basic right of free movement within the EU must be endorsed by the rest of its members. Cameron had floated plans for a Swiss-style migrant cap, but these were a non-starter, perhaps because of a German intervention. Now, with nothing more up his sleeve, Cameron said he would “rule nothing out” if the UK didn’t win backing for his new, more limited proposals—implying that he would campaign to leave the EU in a future referendum.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Uber’s rider database is a sitting duck. The information it contains is tempting to hackers and spies.

Cheap oil has a dark side. Companies invest less in alternatives, Europe risks a recession, and Russia becomes even more aggressive.

Free shipping carries a heavy cost. But without it, customers often fail to complete their online orders.

Obama’s next defense secretary will help burnish his legacy. Chuck Hagel left his successor plenty of room for improvement.

Surprising discoveries

SpaceX is hiring a farmer. Not for a space station or Mars, but in Texas.

A new classes of synthentic drugs is on the horizon. UK scientists have created artificially engineered enzymes.

Russia’s police officers have an interesting way of earning the public’s trust. They post selfies with their moms.

American football is more dangerous than we thought. Young athletes who have never had a head injury still have altered brain structures.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, farmer CVs and mom-cop selfies to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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