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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Hong Kong protests evicted, Google’s Spain pull-out, McDonald’s gets slim, burning money for power

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What to watch for today

Russia tries to salvage the ruble. The central bank will likely raise its benchmark interest rate from 9.5% to 10.5% in an attempt to combat inflation. Russia’s currency has fallen 40% against the dollar this year, going increasingly haywire as oil prices slide and Western sanctions bite.

Sony takes the PlayStation to China. The struggling electronics giant is expected to announce a revamped gaming console that is tweaked to allow for Chinese censorship. Video game consoles were banned in the People’s Republic until earlier this year.

Adobe’s subscription switch. The Photoshop maker, which reports full year earnings, has moved to recurring fees instead of one-off licenses, but some users have resisted.

US retail sales get a lift. Wages, hours worked, and hiring firgures have all been on the rise, which ought to be good news for retailers; analysts expect a 0.3% increase.

While you were sleeping

Police began clearing Hong Kong’s main protest site. The main pro-democracy camp is being dismantled by police and bailiffs who are enforcing a court order. Several hundred protesters are passively resisting the injunction and expect to be arrested. Other demonstrators are vowing to regroup—and leaving behind “glitter traps” for security forces.

Google News will close in Spain. The search giant’s move was forced by a new “Google tax” law that allows Spanish media to charge websites that aggregate their content. The site will close in Spain on December 16 and Spanish publishers will be removed from global Google News search results.

McDonald’s is trimming its menu. The fast food chain said it would reduce the number of items on its US menus and use fewer ingredients after a year of slowing sales. The simplification is part of a plan to allow greater customization of meals, in an attempt to compete with Subway and Chipotle.

Two female suicide bombers attacked a Nigerian market. Four people were killed in the bombing near a market in the northern part of the country. Boko Haram is suspected of organizing the attack.

Japanese businesses halted their spending. Machinery orders fell 6.4% in October from the previous month, a far steeper drop than the 1.7% decline expected. Prime minister Shinzo Abe faces elections this weekend, but the recent spate of bad news is unlikely to unseat him.

Australia’s unemployment rate ticked up. The jobless rate rose to 6.3% in November, from 6.2% in the previous two months, though the total number of employed people rose by 42,700.

Quartz obsession interlude

Caitlin Hu on the Dutch tradition that still turns heads. “Every year around this time, people in the Netherlands paint themselves in blackface and go around pretending to be Santa’s African slaves. According to polls, 92% of Dutch people think this is just fine. They call themselves Zwarte Piets (Black Petes). According to Dutch legend, they are the ‘Moorish’ entourage that arrives with Santa Claus by steamship to deliver pre-Christmas presents to good children and carry away bad ones.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

A sense of privilege is good for kids. Private-school graduates earn more, regardless of what job they hold.

Europe is facing a new age of artistic censorship. And it’s liberals who are leading the charge.

Offsetting carbon emissions is a pipe dream. It relies on technology that’s too likely to fail.

The CIA torture report was absolutely necessary. It’s part of public accounting, and of moving on.

The US is experiencing Weltschmerz. That’s how you feel when you realize the world isn’t what you expected it to be.

Surprising discoveries

A Chinese power plant is burning money. Old and damaged bank notes are cleaner than coal.

Dressing like Santa is a human right. New York’s SantaCon is lawyering up to defend its drunken annual pub crawl.

Soda is good for you. But only if you’re an athlete engaging in a grueling and exhausting sport (paywall).

Vikings took their families to work. New evidence suggests they brought their wives and children on pillaging trips.

American vegetarians lack willpower. Eighty-four percent go back to eating meat after just one year.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, money to burn, and Santa Claus outfits to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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