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What to watch for today
Georgia’s presidential runoff. The vote is seen as a litmus test for the ruling Georgian Dream party, which has been in power since 2012. Its candidate Salome Zurabishvili, the country’s former foreign minister, had a narrow lead—but failed to secure a majority—in the first round of elections over opposition candidate Grigol Vashadze.
The UK publishes its Brexit economic scenarios. The government will lay out projections for the economy, comparing the outcome of Theresa May’s plan for leaving the EU with what might happen if the UK remained a part of the union.
Xi Jinping’s European pitstops. The Chinese president swings by Spain and Portugal to shore up trade relationships (paywall) on his way to the G20 summit in Buenos Aires. China’s Three Gorges Corp is pursuing an acquisition of Portuguese utility EDP and its Spanish renewable-energy unit. Spain will also sign a deal to export its Iberian hams to China.
The Fed’s chairman gives a speech after Trump tore him apart. Jerome “Jay” Powell’s talk at the Economic Club of New York comes a day after the president blamed him for hurting the US economy. “So far, I’m not even a little bit happy with my selection of Jay,” Trump told the Washington Post (paywall).
Democrats decide on Nancy Pelosi. After 15 years leading House Democrats, Pelosi faces her biggest leadership threat in a vote behind closed doors today. She’s expected to prevail, but with some party members opposing her, it remains unclear if she can secure the 218 votes needed to be elected speaker of the House in January.
While you were sleeping
Lion Air pilots fought to keep a faulty plane in the air. A preliminary report by Indonesian investigators detailed how the pilots struggled repeatedly to pull the nose of the plane back up until finally losing control. The report doesn’t say what caused the accident but noted that a mechanic had worked on the plane’s sensors and equipment—but not the “angle-of-attack” sensor (paywall)—the night before it crashed.
China said it would retaliate against any US sanctions over the Uyghurs. China’s ambassador to the US said the country would respond “in proportion,” likening its policies to “re-educate terrorists” to the US’s fight against ISIS. For months, the US has considered sanctions against senior Chinese officials at the urging of some Congress members.
Republicans grew their majority in the US Senate. Three weeks after the midterm elections, incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith, who was endorsed by Trump, defeated Mike Espy in a runoff. In the racially charged election, Hyde-Smith drew criticism for a photo of her posing with Confederate artifacts and a video in which she joked about suppressing votes. Republicans now dominate the Senate 53-47.
New Zealand rejected a telecom firm’s proposal to use Huawei equipment. The government cited risks to national security for its decision against Spark’s plan to use the Chinese company’s technology in its 5G network. The US has been actively lobbying foreign allies (paywall) to avoid Huawei equipment, fearing Chinese surveillance.
A blast near a chemical plant killed 22 in northern China. The explosion, which did not occur at the plant, injured at least 22 others and burned 50 vehicles on the street, according to state media. Zhangjiakou, the city in Hebei province where the blast took place, is set to host the 2022 Winter Olympics with Beijing.
Plaid: It’s hip to be square. Once a symbol of violent rebellion, it morphed into a signifier of diplomatic order and royal good taste. And that’s before 20th-century fashion designers got a hold of it. Read between the lines in today’s Quartz Obsession.
“Do consumers really care which parent company owns what brand they’re consuming? The meta game is to consume less factory-produced garbage food. That’s how you tear away at monopolies.”
—Jan Zheng, co-founder of Phage Directory, on America’s monopoly problem, in one chart
The fashion insider charged with upending the influencer economy: YouTube’s Derek Blasberg, the former CNN Style host once known as “The Gatsby of Instagram,” is trying to make the world’s largest video-sharing site a go-to destination for fashion brands: “Cash isn’t always the key to content … I’d much rather see an intimate moment shot selfie-style with a fascinating person than a boring video shot on a picturesque mountaintop.” Read Alexandra Mondalek’s exclusive interview.
Overworked South Koreans are relaxing in a fake prison. “Inmates” pay to withdraw from the world—and from contact with each other—in austere conditions.
A Siberian unicorn once lived among humans. The massive horned rhino was felled by climate change about 36,000 years ago.
Turkey is looking for onions. The government says the vegetable’s skyrocketing prices could be eased if stockpilers would release their allium hoards.
The person who coined “emotional labor” says we’ve got it wrong. The term refers to the work of managing emotions in the context of a job—not any uncompensated task.
A Swiss hotel chain offers an Instagram “sitter” as an amenity. For $90, you hand over your password to someone who’ll shoot and post your vacation photos.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, get-out-of-jail-free cards, and secret onion stashes to firstname.lastname@example.org. Join the next chapter of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written by Alice Truong and edited by Isabella Steger.