Hong Kong cancels class, Impeachment hearings, cocaine hogs

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Hong Kong schools are closed. Chinese officials shuttered all schools as protests escalate, citing security concerns. Officials also announced that the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the site of a pitched battle between protesters and police, would close for the rest of the term.

Japan’s emperor communes with the gods. Naruhito will perform a secretive and expensive ritual to give thanks for Japan’s harvest and schmooze with Shinto gods in a $27 million shrine that will be demolished immediately afterward.

Beijing and Berlin dump their data. Germany hopes to head off fears of a recession with its latest GDP figures and China is expected to announce that business activity slowed in October. Meanwhile, US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell addresses congress again, where he has hinted at a pause on any further rate reductions.

Walmart bulks up while NVIDIA powers down. Investors expect Walmart to announce a rise in revenue as trade war tensions ease, consumer sentiment recovers, and the company sorts out competition with Amazon. In the tech sector, analysts hope that chipmaker NVIDIA will tease a new product as its data-center business slumps.

While you were sleeping

US impeachment hearings provided new details on Trump’s Ukraine dealings. Bill Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, testified that Gordon Sondland, the EU ambassador, said Trump cared more about investigating rival Joe Biden than he did about Ukraine. Hearings will resume on Friday.

The US-China trade talks have a farm problem. While Trump has touted Chinese commitments to buy up to $50 billion of agricultural products a year, Beijing reportedly wants some wiggle room. On top of that, China’s African swine fever outbreak is much worse than previously thought; the country has lost as much as half its hogs since August 2018.

Aung San Suu Kyi was named in a genocide lawsuit. Rohingya Muslims and Latin American human rights groups sued several Myanmar officials in an Argentine court under the principle of “universal jurisdiction.” Separately, Gambia filed a suit against Myanmar in the United Nations’ highest court on Monday.

A Japanese asteroid explorer is headed home. The Hayabusa-2 spacecraft is expected to return in late 2020 with the samples it collected from two touchdowns.

Venice had its worst flood in 50 years. The highest tide in decades has killed at least two and seriously damaged popular tourist attractions in the famously canal-crossed city.

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Are monopolies inevitable in the digital era? As part of this week’s field guide on taming Big Tech, Quartz reporter Alison Griswold interviewed Matt Stoller, a leading expert on the history of antitrust in the US, about his book, his favorite corporate villain, and whether the tech giants’ power can be checked.

Quartz Obsession

The quiet growth of white noise is combating noise pollution. The public health crisis of sound pollution is creating demand for the white noise technology found in baby rooms, mobile apps, and even cars. But some question whether too much white noise crosses any red lines. Hear all the background chatter in the Quartz Obsession.

Matters of Debate

Can artificial intelligence create copyrighted material? The US Patent and Trademark Office wants to know who owns the content that AIs make.

Support animals are the next top airport amenity. Cute and cuddly pigs and dogs can help those with flying fears.

You have three years to start a podcast. After that, the media business will have moved on to the next thing.

Surprising discoveries

Rod Stewart is really into model trains. He’s spent 23 years building a miniature city.

Wild hogs foiled an Italian drug ring. The animals dug up and destroyed €20,000 ($21,500) of cocaine.

Singapore scientists sped up the printing of human skin. The advancement could help companies move away from animal testing.

China’s Hong Kong disinformation campaign has moved to PornHub. Resourceful propagandists upload videos that are unwelcome on Twitter and YouTube.

More than 2,000 birds turned up dead at India’s largest inland lake. And the cause of death is still unknown.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, podcast pitches, and hyped-up hogs to hi@qz.com. 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 Max Lockie, Nicolás Rivero and Liz Webber.