Quartz Daily Brief—EU haggling, China’s targets, Greece’s gamble, pothole warriors

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

A busy day of haggling in Brussels. European finance ministers will make a first pass at paring down the list of 2,000 projects vying for a slice of the EU’s proposed €315 billion ($388 billion) strategic investment fund. They’ll also discuss aid to Ukraine, while their energy counterparts discuss the South Stream pipeline project that Russia no longer wants.

The US comes clean on CIA torture. Republicans opposed to publishing the 480-page “summary” of a classified Senate report on CIA techniques warned that it will spark “violence and deaths,” and that Americans overseas should make sure they’re safe. Former president George W. Bush and his allies have already started bad-mouthing the report.

China’s Central Economic Work Conference begins. The two- to three-day, closed-door meeting is where the country sets its goal for 2015 GDP growth. The figure will probably leak, and is expected to be 7.0%, one of the lowest in a decade; that’s what the World Bank is urging. This year’s target, which China looks set to just miss, was 7.5%.

Typhoon Hagupit hangs over Peru. Metaphorically, that is; the storm that just racked the Philippines will be top-of-mind for the ministers from 190 countries meeting in Lima to finalize details on tackling climate change. The UN last week said estimates of the costs of adaptation over the next 35 years might be 2-3 times too low.

Big money on a big stage. The first day of the two-day Goldman Sachs Financial Services Conference kicks off, with the CEOs of Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Blackstone, and the CFO of JPMorgan Chase expected to show.

While you were sleeping

Multi-city Olympics could become a thing. With memories fresh of a woefully unprepared Sochi and protests in Brazil, the International Olympic Committee voted to let cities and neighboring countries share the burden of hosting the games. The Summer 2024 games will be the first to allow shared bids.

Greece’s government took a big gamble. Shortly after European creditors gave Greece a two-month extension on its debt, prime minister Antonis Samaras’s government called a presidential election for later this month. If his candidate loses the vote—which takes place in parliament—that’ll trigger a general election, which will likely bring in Syriza, the left-wing party that wants to scrap austerity measures and renegotiate Greece’s debts.

The UN asked for $16.4 billion in humanitarian aid. It’s a new record for the organization: last year, it asked for $13 billion. Over half the money, $7.2 billion, will go helping Syrian refugees. According to the latest estimates, the country’s strife—from both the civil war and external forces—has displaced nearly 11 million people.

Sierra Leone lost its 10th doctor to Ebola. Aiah Solomon Konoyeima passed away on Sunday. Ebola has an estimated fatality rate of 60%, but with 10 of 11 infected doctors dead, the virus is now being called the “caretaker’s disease.”

Sony’s PlayStation network was hacked again. The group “Lizard Squad” took credit on Twitter for the latest outage to the Japanese company’s gaming service. This is the latest in a string of attacks on Sony: last month, hackers released the salary information of thousands of employees and Hollywood celebrities.

Canada and Britain closed their Cairo embassies. The US embassy remains open, but Canada’s is shuttered, ”due to unsettled security conditions.” Likewise the British embassy, which issued this polite warning to nationals: ”Please do not come to the embassy building.”

Quartz obsession interlude

Sonali Kohli on the tricky ethics of tipping teachers. “The holidays are swiftly approaching, and for many families that means a lot of people to tip: the doorman, the housecleaner, the newspaper delivery person, to name a few. But what about the person you trust to mold your child’s mind? Showing appreciation for your child’s teacher can get tricky.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Markets can help defeat climate change. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg says it’s high time the world invests in renewables.

The secret to a happy relationship is a gadget-free bedroom. When you’re cuddling up with your iPhone, you’re not cuddling up with your partner.

Forget Mars, we’re still not done exploring the moon. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield reckons there are still far too many steps to take before reaching the red planet.

There’s a win-win-win scenario for Russia, Ukraine, and the West. But it’ll likely never happen.

Surprising discoveries

Governments don’t like it when you do their jobs. Malaysian authorities are upset that the locals are fixing Kuala Lumpur’s potholes.

The health risks of obesity have been quantified. You’ll die up to eight years earlier than usual and lose up to 19 years of being productive.

If you’ve had a stroke, even a mild one, get your head checked. A quick CT scan will predict whether or not you’re susceptible to another.

Smoking isn’t manly. The more a man smokes, the more of his Y-chromosome he loses.

Diplomatic immunity only goes so far. The UK convicted Gambian diplomats who sold 32 tonnes of tax-free tobacco out of the country’s UK embassy.

Corrections. We apologize for a few errors in yesterday’s brief. Bernie Madoff is still alive; five, not four, of his associates were up for sentencing; and only Prince William, not his wife, was due to meet Barack Obama.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, pothole pictures, and nicotine patches to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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