UK election debate, West Bank settlements, Europa’s ocean

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn debate. The first televised debate of the UK election cycle will see the prime minister and Labour leader go head to head, but will exclude other parties after a court shut down a challenge from the Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats.

US impeachment hearings resume. The House of Representatives will question four witnesses today, including lieutenant colonel Alexander Vindman, who raised alarms about a phone call he listened in on between president Donald Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky.

Google launches its cloud gaming service. Stadia is the latest attempt at building a “Netflix for gaming” that allows the streaming of top-tier titles without a console. The service will launch with 22 games, but heavy users may run up against data caps from their broadband providers.

While you were sleeping

The US decided West Bank settlements aren’t illegal after all. In a reversal of decades of foreign policy, the Trump administration declared that Israel’s settlements in Palestinian territory do not violate international law.

Beijing threatened Hong Kong’s judicial independence. China’s legislature said a Hong Kong court overstepped in ruling against the government’s face-mask ban. Meanwhile, the police siege of a major university continued, though some of the dozens still inside made a daring escape by abseiling to a bridge where motorcycles awaited.

The New York state attorney general is investigating WeWork. The office of Letitia James will look into, among other things, whether founder Adam Neumann engaged in self-dealing to enrich himself. The embattled company is expected to lay off thousands of workers this week.

Sydney was covered in smoke. The Australian city choked as strong winds carried smoke from bushfires inland, with air quality hitting “hazardous” levels. Six people have died since the New South Wales fires started in October.

KPMG cut ties with Prince Andrew. The accounting firm ended its sponsorship of the royal’s mentorship scheme following an interview he gave to the BBC where he defended his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, the deceased financier accused of sex trafficking.

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Exchange-traded funds have exploded in popularity. They offer a cheap and easy way for investors to buy and trade diverse baskets of assets. But the rise of ETFs has introduced new risks for investors, innovation, and market stability.

Quartz Obsession

African fintech is banking a continent. With around 66% of adults in Africa unbanked, the emerging industry has a huge opportunity to drive financial inclusion outside of traditional banking systems. However, there’s growing evidence that digital lending has led to a spike in personal debt. Check the receipts with the Quartz Obsession.

Matters of Debate

Superheroes are the only way to sell female-led action movies. Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman succeeded where Charlie’s Angels failed because men love comics.

Virtual Reality is too boring. Developers haven’t given users a good enough reason to leave reality behind.

Conservation efforts should consider the human impact. The most radical proposals would displace millions of mostly poor people.

Surprising discoveries

The world is getting windier. Average wind speeds went up 7% in some regions in the last decade, providing an unexpected boost to wind farms.

NASA found water on one of Jupiter’s moons. It’s a good indication that there’s a vast liquid ocean—and possibly life—under Europa’s icy shell.

A slippery toilet coating could be crucial during droughts. The spray reduces friction and allows you to flush with half the water.

South Dakota launched a confusing ad campaign against drug addiction. The slogan adorning new billboards in the state reads, “Meth. I’m on it.”

A money-laundering expert got caught laundering money. A professor who wrote a book on organized crime was charged with laundering illicit funds from Venezuela.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, useful PSAs, and toilet spray to Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app on iOS or Android, and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written by Isabella Steger and edited by Tripti Lahiri.