Catalonia election, Apple batteries, yeast milk

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Catalonia holds a snap election. The region will vote on its new parliament less than three months after the Spanish central government dissolved the previous one in the wake of Catalonia’s formal bid for independence. Seven political parties are expecting to win seats in the 135-seat parliament; it’s likely that a coalition will have to be formed.

The UN discusses Jerusalem. The UN General Assembly will hold a special session on Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. They plan to vote on a draft resolution—vetoed by the US in the UN Security Council on Monday—that calls for Trump’s declaration to be withdrawn.

Theresa May heads to Poland. The British prime minister’s visit comes as the European Commission prepares to trigger a “nuclear option” against the EU member state, whose right-wing, populist government is forcing judicial reforms perceived as a threat to its democracy.

The Bank of Japan makes an announcement. The central bank closes off its last policy meeting of the year, with rates expected to stay unchanged. Markets will be looking for clues on where Japan’s monetary policy is heading in 2018 and whether bank governor Haruhiko Kuroda will stay on after his term ends in April.

While you were sleeping

Another North Korean soldier defected to South Korea. Following the dramatic crossing of a soldier across the Demilitarized Zone last month, a low-ranking soldier defected to the South over the land border in thick fog. There was no gunfire during his escape, but South Korea’s military later fired about 20 warning shots at North Korean guards searching for the defector.

Apple confirmed it purposely slows down older iPhones. Following an investigation by an Apple user into whether iPhones did speed up after the batteries were changed, Apple released a statement essentially saying that it intentionally degrades the processing power of its phones with time so that they last longer.

Didi Chuxing raised $4 billion in another round of investment. The Chinese ride-hailing giant didn’t disclose the names of the investors, but the Wall Street Journal reported (paywall) that it includes existing investor SoftBank and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Capital. The company is valued at over $50 billion.

Theresa May’s deputy was fired. First secretary of state Damian Green was sacked for making “inaccurate and misleading” statements over what he knew about claims that pornography was found on his work computer in 2008. Green is the third UK cabinet minister to resign in two months.

Memphis, Tennessee started taking down its Confederate statues. Officials began to remove the statues of Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest and president Jefferson Davis. Forrest was was a pre-war slave trader and the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, though he later renounced the white-supremacist group.

Quartz obsession interlude

Dan Kopf on the enduring popularity of “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” “Among the most popular songs of all-time, it is the only one getting more popular. The song was released in 1994, and in December 2017, for the first time, it cracked the top-10 of the Billboard Hot 100, the music industry’s standard for ranking current song popularity. Carey has already earned about $60 million in royalties on the song since its release, according to the Economist.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The key to saving Silicon Valley’s soul is to give up on the idea of the self. Tech types are finding out that success doesn’t make them happy—but understanding the interconnectedness of the universe might.

Everyone in the world should be taxed on their energy footprint. Our current tax systems don’t discourage people from making environmentally destructive choices, so we need a global tax instead.

The solution to food waste should start with grocery stores. Because of their direct links with farmers, processors, and consumers, they influence (paywall) every facet of the supply chain.

Surprising discoveries

The Mafia was born of a severe Sicilian drought. New research reveals that a 1893 dry spell triggered a revolt against elites, which the Mafia terminated when the government couldn’t.

A carpark in England will be given protected status. The remains of King Richard III dating back to 1485 were discovered at the carpark in the city of Leicester in 2012.

A tech startup is making convincing cow-free milk by genetically engineering yeast. Perfect Day’s product involves altering sections of the DNA sequence of yeast, such that the microorganisms produce proteins found in milk.

Control of Virginia’s 94th district is now essentially down to a coin toss. After the House of Delegates vote ended in a tie between the GOP and Democrats, control will be decided “by lot.”

For the first time in history, more women than men are going to medical school. Trends suggest there may soon be more female doctors than male doctors.

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