Janet Yellen testifies, Uber’s losses widen, super-spider silk

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Barack Obama sits down with Xi Jinping. The former US president “looks forward to catching up with his former counterpart” on his round of meetings and summits in Asia and Europe. Obama will also meet Indian prime minister Narendra Modi later in the week.

Janet Yellen testifies. The Federal Reserve chair will speak before a congressional committee on the country’s economic outlook—one of her final official appearances before her successor Jerome Powell takes over in February. The Fed will also release an estimate for third-quarter GDP.

The EU decides on aircraft emission limits. The European Commission proposes that the European Aviation Safety Agency should have leeway to impose tougher limits, but EU member states lean toward protecting the interests of the aviation industry.

While you were sleeping

North Korea boasted its missiles can hit anywhere in the US. Kim Jong-un’s regime launched an intercontinental missile—its 20th test this year—on Wednesday morning local time. Pyongyang said in a TV broadcast that the Hwasong-15 missile, which reached an altitude of 4,500 km (2,800 miles), is capable of reaching mainland US.

Uber’s losses widened. Legal woes, competition, and regulatory issues dragged the company to a $1.46 billion loss in the third-quarter. The ride-hailing giant revealed its financials to shareholders on Tuesday, after SoftBank made a tender bid to buy Uber stock at a discount to its valuation. At least two of Uber’s early investors are reportedly ready to sell their shares.

A Saudi Prince was freed on a $1 billion settlement. Miteb bin Abdullah, son of the late King Abdullah and former head of the National Guard, was one of the many senior figures rounded up in Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s anti-corruption purge this month. Saudi officials said Miteb was guilty of embezzlement but an “acceptable agreement” has been reached.

Bitcoin broke $10,000. The cryptocurrency is rapidly smashing through symbolic price barriers, and at a much quicker pace each time. It took bitcoin just over two weeks to go from $7,000 to $8,000, and only a week to reach $9,000—days later it crossed $10,000.

Facebook said it can catch most terror-related posts within an hour of creation. Thanks to AI, Facebook claims it can detect 99% of posts pertaining to ISIL and al-Qaeda before a user manually reports it. It can also remove 83% of copies of the posts within one hour after they’re uploaded.

Quartz obsession interlude

Echo Huang and Isabella Steger on the child-abuse scandal that’s rocked China’s middle class. “The kindergarten in the most recent scandal belongs to RYB Education, a US-listed operator of early-learning schools in China. The abuse allegations resonated far and wide in China—but wouldn’t have, some argue, were a more a modest school involved. … ‘Our sense of shock comes from the huge gap between our expectations of what our lives [as middle-class people] should be, and what reality is like.’” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The global offshore system means we can’t trust economic data. Funneling money into tax havens causes serious information distortion.

Who’s allowed to make money on the moon? Nation-states agreed to only use celestial bodies for peaceful purposes, but there are no rules in place for entrepreneurs (paywall).

The concept of productive procrastination is a myth. If it enhances your creativity, it probably wasn’t procrastination to begin with.

Surprising discoveries

Feeding spiders graphene can make webs as strong as Kevlars. A solution that also contains carbon nanotubes could create “bionicomposites” in other animals too.

South Africa is a world leader in penis transplants. The country has the highest rate of penis amputations because of the persistence of traditional male circumcision.

German gamblers used radioactive iodine to cheat at cards. They daubed Iodine-125 onto certain cards so an accomplice could spot them.

Syrians are naming their babies after Vladimir Putin. Russia’s soft-power offensive in the country has been a success.

Iranian athletes are forbidden to compete against Israelis. Wrestler Alireza Karimi-Machiani’s coach told him to sabotage his match (paywall) at the recent U23 World Senior Wrestling Championship in Poland.

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