Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—The Fed’s big day, Slack’s investment fund, Yahoo’s lavish party

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As the year comes to an end, we’re taking stock of everything we learned in 2015, from the prosaic to the profound. We’re inviting Quartz readers to answer this question: What do you know now that you didn’t know a year ago?

Let us know at, and some replies will be edited and published. Thanks!

What to watch for today

The most anticipated decision of the year. US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen will announce whether the central bank will raise its benchmark interest rate, and most analysts expect a hike. Quartz has you covered with absolutely everything you need to understand the Fed’s decision.

GE and Valeant predict the future. Both companies present their outlook for next year. 2015 was a year of tectonic shifts for GE, which shed its financial unit and focused on its core industrial business. Valeant’s future is brightening ever so slightly, with a new distribution deal boosting its battered shares.

China’s heavy-handed internet conference. Beijing will demonstrate its extensive control over the world’s biggest internet market, with speeches by president Xi Jinping and Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev. China is trying to force foreign technology companies to give the government access to their source code and encryption technology.

While you were sleeping

US Republican candidates thrashed it out. Fault lines appeared between presidential hopefuls over how to fight ISIL; some favored more surveillance while others wanted to protect civil liberties. Donald Trump received boos when he suggested “closing” the internet to stop terrorist recruiters.

Slack announced an $80 million startup fund. The office messaging startup and partners will contribute to the fund, which will invest between $100,000 and $250,000 in ventures in the Slack ecosystem. The company has raised $300 million and earned a valuation of $2.8 billion.

The US abandoned regime change in Syria… During a visit to Moscow, secretary of state John Kerry edged closer to an agreement with Russia, abandoning a long-standing US policy goal in order to kickstart Syrian peace talks. Kerry also insisted that the US had no desire to isolate Russia.

…And called for new sanctions against Iran. A UN panel found Iran violated a Security Council resolution in October when it launched a ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, according to Reuters. The US Congress called for additional sanctions.

A heavy storm battered Sydney. Winds of up to 130 miles per hour (215 k/h) caused flight cancellations and knocked out power for around 4,000 residents. No deaths have been reported so far, and the storm has begun moving offshore.

A bomb threat closed every public school in Los Angeles. The city kept 640,000 kids home after receiving a threatening email. New York City received a similar threat but concluded it was a hoax and kept schools open.

Quartz markets haiku
Lazy newborn bear!
A single step won’t kill you
Better get moving

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on the facts and fiction of vengeful whales: “Creatures that make their homes in the deep sea, sperm whales have lousy vision and use sound to visualize the objects around them. In a moment of panic, a whale might not notice a whaleship, and therefore might simply bang into it accidentally.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

We should start eating breakfast cereal again. High levels of fiber lower the risk of cancer and Type 2 diabetes.

China has a nasty surprise in store for Latin America. Demand for commodities will plummet in the coming decades.

US drone regulations are insane. Toy helicopters are meticulously logged, but assault rifles are not.

Surprising discoveries

The world’s oldest woman has four slices of bacon a day. Susannah Mushatt Jones, 116, eats it “every morning, with gusto.”

Your cursor knows when you’re angry. Researchers found that frustration produces “sporadic, jagged motions.”

Yahoo allegedly threw a $7 million party. The company took a break from its troubles with a lavish holiday bash.

Australian sheepdogs are protecting small penguins from foxes. The story has been made into a hit movie.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, jagged cursor motions, and penguin-protecting sheepdogs to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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