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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—New Luxembourg leaks, Congress averts shutdown, Hong Kong protest sweep, flipping Scotland Yard

By Quartz Staff

What to watch for today

France tries to cut red tape. Francois Hollande’s unpopular government will unveil a new bill that will let businesses stay open on the weekend, resolve firing disputes more quickly, and reduce regulations for lawyers and constructions firms. The structural reforms are needed to secure an EU reprieve on France’s missed budget targets.

Wall Street assesses peer-to-peer lending. LendingClub’s IPO will be priced ahead of the start of trading on Thursday. The firm, the largest of its kind, has enabled $6 billion of loans since 2007, and expects to raise as much as $929 million.

British construction continues to pay out. Ashtead, a construction equipment rental company, reports fiscal second-quarter results (paywall) amid a construction boom; shares in the company have gained 60% in value this year and are up 14-fold over the past five years. In related news, the UK is facing a severe bricklayer shortage.

Malala Yousafzai picks up her Nobel Peace Prize. The 17-year old who was shot by the Taliban for daring to advocate for a woman’s right to an education will become the youngest recipient ever. She’s sharing it with Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi.

Police clear Hong Kong’s democracy protests. Around 9am Thursday local time (8pm Wednesday ET), court bailiffs and up to 3,000 police officers will begin clearing most of the main pro-democracy protest site. Some protestors have vacated the area already, but others plan to resist efforts to remove barricades and tents.

While you were sleeping

New Luxembourg leaks implicated Disney and Koch Industries. Documents revealing secret tax deals between 35 multinational companies and the Luxembourg government were released, describing efforts to cut their worldwide tax bills and adding to an earlier pile published last month.

The US averted a shutdown, for a few months at least. House and Senate leaders agreed to finance most of the government’s spending through September, 2015. But a provision to fund homeland security was only approved through February—Republicans want to use it as leverage to fight the White House’s executive order on immigration.

French industrial output took an unexpected fall. Energy, agricultural, and food production declined in October by 0.8% from September, missing predictions of a 0.2% rise and adding to months of poor economic figures from the euro zone’s second-largest economy.

Turkey’s economy looked troubled. Third-quarter GDP grew only 1.7% from a year earlier (paywall), well below expectations, due to a slowdown in domestic demand caused by a weaker lira and higher interest rates.

China’s prices were stagnant. The producer price index dropped 2.7% in November from a year earlier, marking the 33rd consecutive month of declines. Consumer price growth slowed too, rising just 1.4% in November from a year earlier, down from a 1.6% rise in October.

JPMorgan Chase is $22 billion short under new US rules that aim to increase capital requirements for systemically important banks. The Federal Reserve accidentally let slip that the bank was responsible for the entire shortfall, which it had previously said was shared between eight banks.

Sony’s CEO had final cut approval for The Interview. Kazuo Hirai personally cleared the violent finale to the Seth Rogen comedy about North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, according to documents leaked by anonymous hackers who may be aligned with Kim’s regime.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on the environmental impact of your next vacation. “Some 20 million people board cruise ships every year. And while they might return to land with fond memories of umbrella drinks and shuffleboard, they leave a lot at sea. About a billion tons of sewage, in fact.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

“Non-profit” charter schools are a scam. Many in the US pass on their revenues to private companies.

Chipotle is killing McDonald’s. ”Fast casual” restaurants combine fast-food service with actual food.

“Chinese wisdom” is a myth. It’s Beijing’s diplomatic code for rejecting all Western ideas.

The Hunger Games has it wrong. Eradicating the enemy isn’t the best strategy.

Torture didn’t help the US get Osama bin Laden. His death occured despite “enhanced interrogation,” not because of it.

Surprising discoveries

Google Plus introduced a custom gender option. You will no longer be limited to selecting from a dropdown list.

A Harvard professor went to war over $4. He threatened a lawsuit over a takeout Chinese menu price discrepancy.

Hip-hop’s royal couple met Will and Kate. Beyoncé and Jay Z entertained their fellow royals at a basketball game.

Even the police are playing the London real estate boom. Scotland Yard flipped its headquarters for a 3x profit after only six years.

Iran calls unwed cohabiting “white marriage.” Religious authorities are trying to crack down.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Chinese menu discrepancies, and Will-Kate-Jay-Bey transcripts to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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