Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Camel buys Newport, Uber’s China expansion, measuring creativity, elevator toilets

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What to watch for today

The fate of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. A close vote is expected in the US House of Representatives over a measure that would give president Barack Obama fast-track authority to sign the high-profile trade pact. Republican leadership backs the bill, but Obama’s fellow Democrats oppose it.

A huge tobacco deal closes. Camel owner Reynolds American is acquiring Lorillard, the producer of Newport cigarettes, for $25 billion. The companies, which will control 34% of the $100-billion US market, will have to sell off some of their brands due to competition concerns.

More hints about US consumer spending. The University of Michigan’s survey on consumer sentiment (pdf) will show whether Americans are spending the extra cash they’ve saved due to lower energy prices. The US Labor Department also releases its Producer Price Index.

Art aims to stir the memory in Kosovo. Today marks the 16th anniversary of NATO troops entering the tiny country to end a brutal ethnic conflict in this part of the Balkans. Artist Alketa Xhafa-Mripa is stringing up 5,000 dresses in a soccer stadium to pay tribute to rape survivors.

While you were sleeping

The true scope of the latest US hack was revealed. Investigators say the intruders may have stolen data on 14 million people, up from a previous estimate of 4 million. That covers every federal employee, retiree, and a million former employees, according to Bloomberg, which said the US is weighing options such as destroying the data on the hackers’ servers.

BlackBerry mulled going Android. The struggling Canadian smartphone maker is considering adding Google’s operating system to an upcoming phone for the first time, according to Reuters. That would allow BlackBerry to continue its pivot to building device management software for enterprises.

Uber planned a $1 billion China expansion. A memo leaked to the Financial Times (paywall) from the US-based ride-hailing service said that the company plans to invest the sum into expanding to 50 cities nationwide, from the 11 it currently serves. It also claimed Uber is logging 1 million rides per day in China, equalling the rest of its global market combined.

Honda announced it will restate its full-year earnings. The Japanese automaker will reassess its results for the year through March 2015 to account for 44.8 billion yen ($363 million) in costs from a recall of cars fitted with Takata airbags. Honda’s original full-year operating profit was 651.7 billion yen; it will announce the revised figure later this month.

Hyundai cut production. The South Korean automaker announced it has reduced output at one of its domestic passenger car plants by 25%, while its affiliate Kia has reduced working hours at its Chinese plant, on the back of falling sales. The companies blamed currency exchange rates that mean Japanese-made cars are more attractive on the international market.

A Washington NAACP leader was outed as white. The family of Rachel Dolezal, the prominent leader of the Spokane chapter of the civil rights organization, told media that Dolezal was born white and has been portraying herself as black for several years.

Quartz obsession interlude

Marc Bain on an algorithm that can measure creativity. “Great paintings are creative forces that transcend their brush strokes, colors, and compositions. They can’t be reduced to mere data, analyzed, and ranked by their creativity. But two computer scientists at Rutgers University respectfully disagree.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Stop saying mobile phones will save Africa. It’s time to think bigger than that.

The BRICS are a drag. The economic woes of China, Russia, and Brazil are spreading to the rest of the world (paywall).

White people value the “safety” of their private spaces over equality. As shown by the recent police brutality case involving an officer and a black girl in Texas.

The “Yuccie” demographic is a farce. It’s just white privilege by another name.

Nigeria needs a #BringBackOurBoys campaign, too. It will have to rehabilitate thousands of Boko Haram fighters.

Surprising discoveries

Drones can be lifesavers. Microsoft wants to use mosquito-catching drones to fight epidemics.

A dead man was elected mayor in Mexico. Enrique Hernández, a critic of drug cartels and corrupt politicians, was assassinated last month.

Former cannibals could provide clues about dementia and Parkinson’s. A Papua New Guinea tribe developed resistance to certain diseases.

Fake news destroys lives. A largely-fabricated story about a “drunken Santa” in Poland had tragic consequences.

Japanese elevators may soon have toilets. They’re for emergency use during earthquakes and other disasters.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, elevator toilets, and an algorithm’s judgement on the creativity of this newsletter to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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