Saudi Aramco debuts, formal US impeachment charges, apostrophe rage

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What to watch for today

Aramco’s shares start changing hands. The oil titan will debut as the largest listed company with one of the lowest percentages—only 1.5%—of available stock, as the Saudi state keeps most of it under lock and key. By comparison, Apple, the second biggest listed firm, has a free float of 88%.

The UN discusses North Korea. At a public meeting requested by the US, the United Nations Security Council will consider the most appropriate way to react to concerns over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

Blue Origin launches again. The space company founded by Jeff Bezos plans to launch its third suborbital mission from its Texas spaceport. The reusable New Shepard rocket is expected to fly just past the edge of space—about 66 miles up—for the sixth time in its career, carrying a cargo of scientific experiments and publicity stunts.

While you were sleeping

US House Democrats formally called for Donald Trump’s removal… The newly unveiled articles of impeachment used only nine pages to lay out the charges against the US president: using his power to solicit election interference by the Ukrainian government, and obstructing Congress’s efforts to investigate.

…then cut a deal with him to revamp NAFTA. Both sides claimed victory after agreeing on a modest update to the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement with new protections for workers and the environment. 

The US hit foreign military leaders with sanctions. The Treasury Department froze the assets of four Myanmar military officials, including army chief Min Aung Hlaing, as their civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi prepares to defend the government’s treatment of Rohingya muslims at The Hague. The sanctions also targeted 14 officials from other nations, including Congolese militia leader Musa Baluku.

Exxon Mobil won a climate change lawsuit. In what could turn out to be a landmark case, a Manhattan Supreme Court justice ruled that the oil company did not improperly communicate to investors the financial toll of climate change regulations. Exxon’s not on solid ground yet—Massachusetts has filed a similar suit, only it involves both investors and consumers.

Argentina swung back to the left in national elections. Peronist candidate Alberto Fernández unseated conservative president Mauricio Macri in a victory for left-leaning populists. Fernández has vowed to end his predecessor’s unpopular austerity measures as the country struggles with high inflation, rampant poverty, and fears of a looming default.

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Is Ant Financial still worth $150 billion? It’s been more than a year since the Chinese giant became the world’s most valuable fintech, its valuation double that of Goldman Sachs. But a lot has changed since then. The China-US trade war has escalated and tariffs worth more than $600 billion have been slapped on goods. It’s a difficult environment, even for a company like Ant. Jane Li finds out how it’s doing in this week’s field guide, which looks beyond the fintech hype.

Quartz obsession

You have thoughts and feelings, and you’re aware those around you do, too. That’s called the theory of mind, a fascinating concept in philosophy that has spanned centuries. Now it’s part of a discussion on whether only humans possess it. Recent research says animals might; but can machines develop the abilities within theory of mind? Ponder it all over at the Quartz Obsession.

Matters of debate

A high turnover of CEOs signifies an economic boom. The employment rate for business leaders is the opposite of ordinary employees.

Private companies shouldn’t bankroll the public good. Corporations use public-private partnerships to influence policymakers’ priorities and mask their own bad behavior.

Don’t let apostrophes go gentle into that good night. We should rage, rage against the “ignorance and laziness” of improper punctuation.

Surprising discoveries

Over 15 years, the best performing currencies are…Thailand’s baht and Israel’s shekel. They’ve consistently strengthened against the dollar.

Calcutta was once an anti-pollution pioneer. A century ago, its air was “cleaner than any major European industrial city.”

Sea cucumber smuggling is a serious problem. US officials found 46 of the protected species—a Chinese delicacy—in the bag of a man who was crossing the southern border.

Apple’s top-flight computer costs more than a BMW. The newly released Mac Pro can cost over $50,000 with all its optional bells and whistles.

December is prime time for investigative reporting. Publications slip in bombshell stories ahead of the Pulitzer submission deadline.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, C-suite job offers, and investigative tips 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 Susan Howson and Nicolás Rivero.