Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Chennai flooding, FIFA reforms, coffee bacteria

What to watch for today

Flooding continues in Chennai. Army troops are on their way to the capital of India’s Tamil Nadu province, where severe weather has caused almost 200 deaths. The city is suffering from a major storm that isn’t expected to let up for several days.

Volkswagen’s owners speak to employees. Wolfgang Porsche and three other board members will address thousands of workers for the first time since the company’s devastating emissions scandal. Employees have been forced to take a two-week unpaid leave due to falling revenue; US sales dropped by 25% in November.

FIFA executives discuss reforms. A two-day meeting of the football group’s executive committee will discuss potential age and term limits on senior officials. Sponsors have pressured the body for independent oversight.

The UK votes on bombing Syria. Prime minister David Cameron is appealing to members of all parties to support airstrikes against ISIL. Parliament has scheduled a 10.5-hour debate on the issue, with a vote at 10:30pm London time.

Janet Yellen speaks. The US Federal Reserve chairwoman will be closely watched as she delivers a speech today at the Economic Club of Washington. Analysts expect the Fed to raise the cost of borrowing later this month.

While you were sleeping

VTech said hackers accessed millions of children’s accounts. The Hong Kong digital toymaker said 6 million children’s accounts and 4.9 million parent accounts were compromised in a hack discovered last month. The company is investigating whether hackers could have accessed children’s photos.

Mark Zuckerberg is a dad—and is giving away his money. The Facebook founder and his wife, Priscilla Chan, said they will donate 99% of their Facebook shares to “advancing human potential and promoting equality.” That announcement came as the couple celebrated the birth of their daughter, Max.

Australian GDP beat expectations. The economy grew 2.5% in the third quarter compared to the same period a year earlier, sending the Aussie dollar higher. That should ease concerns that a slowing China will hurt the Australian economy—for now.

Chicago fired its police chief. Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked for the resignation of superintendent Garry McCarthy, one week after dash-cam footage was released showing a white police officer killing an unarmed black teenager. Emanuel said he needed to build public trust in the police force.

NATO agreed to send armed forces to Turkey. The group of nations will send patrol aircraft and missiles to protect against “highly unstable” borders with Iraq and Syria. But NATO played down suggestions the move was related to Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet last month.

Puerto Rico barely avoided a default. The US commonwealth made a last-minute bond payment of $354 million using revenue meant for government agencies. Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla told the US Senate that the island has no more money ahead of a Jan. 1 payment.

Quartz markets haiku

Factories falter

Self-selling cars, am I right?

December looms still

Quartz obsession interlude

Dan Frommer on why the Apple Watch has stalled. “After months of use, it’s increasingly clear that this is what needs to change the most. The watch needs to be untethered from the iPhone for speed, independence, and direct access to the power of the cloud. Or it will never be more than a cute sidekick.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Mark Zuckerberg isn’t really giving his money away. He’s donated it to his own organization, which sounds suspiciously supportive of companies like Facebook.

The phrase “Mother Nature” does a disservice to nature and women. It suggests subjugation, rather than empowerment.

India and China don’t deserve the blame for climate change. The West destroyed the environment for 300 years, then exported its factories.

Surprising discoveries

Harvard’s house masters voted to change their title. “Master” was associated with slavery; a new title has not yet been decided.

Scientists created a new form of carbon. It’s magnetic and harder than a diamond.

Your coffee maker is a cesspool. Researchers found dangerous bacteria levels, despite caffeine’s antibiotic properties.

More than 11,000 hunters applied to kill 16 Norwegian wolves. The country’s entire wolf population is only 30.

The world’s oldest peach pits were found in China. They date back 2.5 million years.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, terrified wolves, and new carbon to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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