Impeachment goes public, Hong Kong closes schools, a fat cat

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What to watch for today

House impeachment hearings go public… Big time. Two career diplomats testify—with every major network covering the proceedings live—about allegations that Donald Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine for his own political advantage. 

…and the Fed chairman heads to Capitol Hill. An hour after the impeachment hearings start, Jerome Powell appears before Congress’ joint economic committee. Investors will be watching for clues to the direction of the economy. The Fed cut interest rates last month for the third time this year.

Trump meets with Turkey’s president. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan acknowledges that the relationship between the NATO allies is “painful,” but can expect a warm welcome from Trump. Congress wants to distance itself from White House policy on Turkey.

Brazil and China patch it up at BRICS. They’ve been at odds since 2019, but will take steps to make amends in Brasilia today and Thursday at the summit of major emerging economies—Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

While you were sleeping

Venice was hit with a 50-year flood. The highest tide in decades flooded many popular tourist sites in the city that’s famous for its canals. Flood prevention work began in 2003, but has faced delays, scandals, and huge costs.  

Hong Kong said it would close schools. It’s the first time that protests forced the closure of schools across the city. Pitched battles between demonstrators and riot police raged overnight at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Transport remains disrupted as clashes continued for a third straight day.

Australia’s top court granted an appeal to a jailed priest. Cardinal George Pell, the 78-year-old former Vatican treasurer, will get a final chance to fight his conviction for child sex abuse offences. He is serving a six-year prison term for sexually assaulting two choir boys in the 1990s.

Diamond sales lost their luster. Hefty price cuts helped De Beers shift a lot of rough-cut diamonds in its latest sale to wholesalers, but the company said that revenue so far this year is $1.2 billion below the same period last year. A glut of gems has cut into margins for suppliers and sellers. 

Boris Johnson got back on the campaign trail. After overseeing the emergency response to severe flooding in the north of England for the last few days, for which he has been criticized, the UK’s prime minister resumes electioneering. His Conservative party leads in the polls.

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The world’s most popular fruit—the banana—is under threat. Only 15% of bananas are exported but the yellow, sweet staple accounts for an $8 billion global export market. Today, it’s under threat by Panama fungus disease. Peel back the layers in the Quartz Obsession.

Matters of Debate

Google’s healthcare ambitions are terrifyingly open-ended. Vacuuming up millions of people’s data is scary, but being cagey about why is worse.

The rise of resale markets is good for luxury brands. Cash-strapped customers are more likely to buy a new Louis Vuitton bag if they can flip it later.

Tencent should split itself up. Listing its fintech business as a separate entity would create China’s fourth-largest public company.

Surprising discoveries

Thai monks have an obesity problem. Required to eat the rich, sugary alms the faithful give them, about half the monks are overweight.

Physicists are beginning to understand “large-scale structures.” Made of hydrogen and dark matter, they could bind galaxies billions of light years apart.

A fat cat causes problems. Russian carrier Aeroflot stripped a flyer of his air miles as punishment for a devious smuggling scheme that involved a cat swap.

Play-Doh was invented by accident. The doughy toy was a desperate spinoff of a wallpaper-cleaning putty.

Balloons are more regulated than voting machines in the US. Election infrastructure is largely free from government oversight, while consumer products are closely scrutinized.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Play-Doh, and obviously, diamonds, to Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app on iOS or Android, and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Jason Karaian, Hasit Shah, and Rashmee Roshan Lall.