Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today and over the weekend
UN Security Council meets on Jerusalem. At the request of eight states, the 15-member body will convene on Friday to discuss US president Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The abrupt reversal of decades of US policy has generated outraged protests from Palestinians and unrest in the Middle East.
Gujarat votes for a new legislature. Residents of Indian prime minister Narendra Damodardas Modi’s home state will head to polls this weekend to determine the breakdown of its 182-member state house. The election will likely have a bearing on the country’s next general election, which could displace Modi if the ruling party doesn’t win enough seats.
US Congress votes to avoid a government shutdown. The House and Senate must pass a contentious spending bill by Friday to keep the government running through Dec. 22. On Wednesday, Trump threatened a shutdown over Democratic demands, which includes finding an alternative to the Obama-era program DACA.
While you were sleeping
US senator Al Franken announced he will resign. Fellow Democrats called for Franken to step down after more sexual assault allegations surfaced. His resignation speech pointed a finger at Donald Trump and Senate candidate Roy Moore, both of whom have been accused of assault by multiple women yet are still backed by Republicans.
General Electric announced it will cut 12,000 jobs. The world’s largest maker of gas turbines will be laying off 18% of its Power division in response to falling demand for fossil fuel energy. The move is part of new chief John Flannery’s attempt to regain the company’s footing as renewable energy prices plunge.
Gaza attacked Israel, which struck back. In response to three rockets launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military hit two of Gaza’s militant posts via aircraft and tank. Neither attack resulted in casualties, but regional tensions remain high over Donald Trump’s Jerusalem decision.
Russia said Pyongyang wants direct talks with Washington. According to Russian news agencies, foreign minister Sergei Lavrov told US secretary of state Rex Tillerson about North Korea’s desire to discuss security guarantees. Relations have frayed as the US and South Korea engage in annual combat exercises, amid warnings from North Korea that war is unavoidable.
China and Maldives signed a free trade and maritime deal. The agreement came during Maldives president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s visit to China, where president Xi Jinping said it would inject “new energy” into the countries’ relationship. The growing influence of Beijing on the archipelago nation has India worried about China’s increasing involvement in South Asia.
Quartz obsession interlude
Thorsten Botz-Bornstein on when the world developed such bad taste: “Humans have always needed truths to believe in. Whereas in the past those truths tended to be transmitted through cultures, they are now increasingly produced instantaneously without cultural mediation. Kitsch employs this mechanism in the realm of aesthetics. In today’s world, kitsch is redefining our perception of truth; it is a truth devoid of culture or context.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
America needs to treat women like Norway does. If the US workforce included more women, the nation could be roughly $1.6 trillion richer.
Robots aren’t killing jobs fast enough. The labor market might be steady, but we need faster industry disruption in order to create entirely new types of careers.
Taylor Swift is the best/worst thing in music. She’s either a bold, refreshing role model for a growing generation of young women, or a mean and manipulative icon of white privilege.
Bitcoin is making Neo-Nazis rich. Many white nationalists have embraced cryptocurrency after losing jobs and access to standard online payment services.
MIT researchers are making computers out of live bacteria. A new responsive material uses living cells that can be programmed to act like basic computers.
The 2018 Winter Olympics will be the coldest in decades. A projected temperature of -14 ºC (7 ºF) in Pyeongchang will be dangerously frigid for spectators in the roofless main stadium.
“Reduced” emissions by rich countries are actually just exported. Poorer nations pick up the environmental tab for emissions when they make products for overseas brands.
Walmart’s new meal-kit service is already selling out. Affordable meals like chicken tikka masala and Thai crab curry should put competitors on notice.
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