Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
The EU decides on Uber’s status. The European Union’s top court will rule on whether Uber is a digital-services provider or a taxi company. The case arose after a complaint of unfair competition was brought by a Barcelona taxi association against the UberPOP service, which used casual drivers to pick up riders and has since been suspended in most European cities.
Democrats pick their next Judiciary Committee leader. They’ll cast a secret ballot for representative Zoe Lofgren or Jerry Nadler to act as the next committee head; the winner would lead potential impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump should the party take back the House.
China unveils its economic blueprint for 2018. The Wall Street Journal reports the plan will illustrate Beijing’s struggle to cut debt (paywall). Despite advice from the IMF and World Bank to slash debt even if it temporarily hurts economic growth, China is expected to soften its earlier stance on borrowing and focus on just controlling its rise.
While you were sleeping
The US Congress passed a sweeping tax overhaul. The GOP plan passed by a vote of 227-203 in the House and 51-48 in the Senate, setting up what the party claims will be the largest tax cut in decades, but that critics contend could worsen inequality in the country. Trump is expected to sign it into law.
Theresa May and Donald Trump talked on the phone. The leaders chatted almost two weeks after May said she would speak to the US president about his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, as the UK is opposed to the move. There is still no agreement on whether Trump will visit the UK.
Democrats defeated Republicans by a single vote in Virginia. A Democratic challenger won 11,608 to 11,607 (paywall) in a recount of an election for the state’s House of Delegates, which Republicans have controlled for 17 years. That leaves the State House split evenly 50-50 between the two parties.
A bus accident killed 12 people in Mexico. The bus was taking tourists to Mayan ruins at Chacchoben, about 110 miles south of Tulum, when it flipped on a highway. Among the injured were seven Americans and two Swedish citizens—nationalities have not been released for those who were killed.
Quartz obsession interlude
Rosie Spinks on how not to get sick on a cruise ship. “Close quarters where lots of people are touching the same objects—think handrails, buffet utensils, elevator buttons—and eating the same food mean if a few infected individuals board the boat, the chances of the highly contagious condition spreading are high. While the causal agent of the most recent GI outbreak has not yet been verified by the CDC as norovirus, more than 90% of diarrheal-related outbreaks on cruise ships ultimately have norovirus as their cause.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Kids who love learning have a leg up. Being “motivationally gifted” gives children an advantage over peers with a higher IQ.
French-language purists are against making French “gender-neutral.” They believe making the language overly complicated threatens its status in the world.
US university presidents are shocked Americans think colleges are too elite. Backlash against top-tier schools is at an all-time high, as are tuition costs.
The US government has spent $22 million on secret UFO searches. The costs for a program uncovered by the New York Times (paywall) were hidden within the defense budget.
The Last Jedi has a low, but possibly fake, audience approval rating. One anti-Disney Facebooker bragged online about using bots to sink the film’s Rotten Tomatoes standing.
Elon Musk accidentally tweeted his phone number. “Do you have a sec to talk? My cell is …” the Tesla CEO wrote to John Carmack, the chief technology officer of Facebook’s Oculus.
You can’t make a good living as a literary fiction writer. Top authors take up a big part of a shrinking pie, leaving little room for lesser-known writers to support themselves.
Virtual reality could be the answer to becoming multilingual. Practicing without fear of real-world screwups could direct the more anxiety-prone toward language-immersion programs.
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