Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Fighting in Chechnya, Eric Garner verdict, Orion test flight, gingerbread real estate

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What to watch for today

The European Central Bank meets. The euro hit a two-year low on Wednesday, making it a likely topic of discussion when the bank convenes today for a policy meeting. Economists predict an announcement on purchasing government bonds.

The ultimate test drive. NASA will trial the Orion spacecraft, the ship that is meant to eventually carry humans to Mars. Today’s test will send the ship up 3,600 miles, and when it returns to Earth, it’ll reach speeds of 20,000 miles an hour—the speed NASA expects ships will hit as they’re coming home from deep space.

50,000 bitcoins at auction. They were once owned by the people who operated Silk Road, the illegal drug trading website. The current trading value of the coins is roughly $19 million, and the US Marshals will have another 94,000 seized bitcoins left after this auction.

The second Lufthansa strike this week. Europe’s largest airline announced yesterday that it will cancel nearly half its long-haul flights as the pilots’ union enters its 10th strike of the year—this one between 02:00 and 23:00 GMT today. Pilots object to the airline’s plan to phase out an early retirement option.

Bond. James Bond. Despite all the terrible news to come out of Sony recently—the latest being that North Koreans hacked their computer systems—the company announces today the details of the 24th Bond film. These include the title of the movie, as well who will play Bond’s latest love interest.

While you were sleeping

No indictment over the death of Eric Garner. A grand jury decided the white police officer who caused the death of an unarmed black man in New York by putting him in a chokehold should face no criminal charges, following a familiar pattern for how the US legal system handles cops accused of excessive force. Protests sprung up around the city, including at Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

Fighting in Chechnya. Three police have been shot dead at a checkpoint and militants have taken over buildings in the north of Grozny, the Chechen capital. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said the situation was calm and denied the city was under military control.

Honda put some distance between it and Takata. The automaker turned to Swedish parts maker Autoliv and Japan’s Daicel to supply parts for the cars it is recalling because of safety issues related to airbags made by Japan’s Takata. Honda announced a nationwide recall of cars fitted with Takata airbags; US regulators asked Takata to do the same, but the company has refused.

Brazil hiked its interest rate by 50 basis points. The central bank put the benchmark Selic rate at 11.75%, a little higher than some analysts expected, as Brazil’s newly re-elected president Dilma Rousseff redoubled her promise to cap inflation at 4.5%.

Cheap oil hit a Canadian gas project. Petronas, Malaysia’s state-owned oil and gas group, postponed its decision on a final $36 billion investment (paywall) in a project to transport liquified natural gas project from Canada to Asia, citing low oil prices.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on China’s newfound banking insurance. “It’s kind of amazing that China’s gone as long as it has without a major bank run. That’s largely thanks to the Chinese government’s hands-on omnipresence in the financial system. The big thing those hands do is push deposit rates below market rates, in effect forcing savers to subsidize bank cheap loans, usually to state-backed companies. While this has stymied household consumption, the resulting investments have powered more than a decade of double-digit growth.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Saudi Arabia is using the price of oil as a weapon. Its target is Iran.

Bombs and tanks aren’t going to destroy ISIL. Paranoia and its hardline politics will.

Europe’s inflation “problem” isn’t a problem at all. The ECB needs to recalibrate its expectations (paywall).

Stop doubting emerging economies. China is still growing and all this cheap oil will do wonders.

Lost skills will come back to the US. Good old-fashioned manufacturing will bring prosperity back to America’s cities.

Surprising discoveries

The World Trade Center subway station may cost more than the World Trade Center. Its estimated to cost $4 billion.

There’s a simple trick to controlling weight gain. Fast for 12 hours—daily.

Giraffes are going extinct. Their numbers have fallen by almost half in 15 years.

You may have to pack light for the upcoming holidays. There’s talk of banning carry-on bags because of the threat of terrorism.

Gingerbread real estate can be a major investment. Rubies and pearls made this gingerbread house worth $77,910—shipping not included.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, spare giraffes, and gingerbread houses to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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