🌎 US inflation slows down

Plus: Is India’s Adani Group too big to fail?
🌎 US inflation slows down

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

A fall in US prices for gas and used cars slowed down inflation in November. Prices for all goods and services rose just 0.1%, with the Federal Reserve expected to increase interest rates by half a point today.

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried was charged with criminal fraud. The former CEO could face decades in prison. Meanwhile, the man tasked with guiding FTX through bankruptcy blasted the company’s management.

Microsoft offered to share Call of Duty in its bid to buy Activision. US regulators who recently sued to block the $69 billion acquisition shot down the proposal.

Facebook’s algorithm was once again accused of fueling violence during a conflict. A lawsuit seeks $2 billion for victims of hateful content that the social media allegedly helped disseminate during Ethiopia’s civil war. 

Jack Dorsey promised an annual $1 million grant to messaging app Signal. Twitter’s former CEO also laid out plans for an “open and free protocol” for social media in response to Elon Musk’s Twitter Files drops.

Moderna and Merck reported promising results in a cancer vaccine trial. The findings of the Phase II trial indicated the mRNA vaccine combined with immunotherapy reduced the risk of cancer returning in melanoma survivors.

US lawmakers took aim at Chinese tech companies in separate bipartisan bills. A Senate bill proposes to prevent Huawei from accessing US banks, while members of the House seek to ban TikTok.

What to watch for

After Morocco won its quarter-final match against Portugal at the first World Cup hosted by an Arab country, players and supporters could be seen waving a variety of flags: Morocco’s red banner studded with a green star, Qatar’s maroon and white Al Adaam, and Palestine’s triangle-adorned tricolor.

For a game entrenched in national identities, this striking scene showed how Morocco’s unlikely run as the first African nation to reach the World Cup semifinals has reverberated beyond the country’s borders, thanks to the international background of its players.

Today (Dec. 14), Morocco will face France, who occupied the North African country for almost five decades, and exerted influence for 50 years more. While France is heavily favored to win the match, the Moroccan team has managed to defy the odds from the very start of the tournament. Win or lose, Morocco has already made history.

Is India’s Adani Group too big to fail?

The value of shares in the Indian companies belonging to Gautam Adani, one of the world’s richest men, has soared more than 1,000% in the past five years.

Image for article titled 🌎 US inflation slows down
Graphic: Niharika Sharma

In a relatively short amount of time, Adani has embedded his energy firms deep within India’s infrastructure, partly due to a close relationship with prime minister Narendra Modi and coveted government contracts. Adani’s rise has also been fueled by vast volumes of taxpayer money, both as debt and investment—so much so that people are starting to question if Adani Group has become too big to fail.

A collapse of the conglomerate would send shock waves into the economy at large. Rating agencies and financial experts have already flagged risk factors including how the group could spiral into a debt trap. A massive default by one or several of Adani’s companies would rock not just the equities markets, but India’s economy overall.

The complicated roots of Poinsettia plants

Gif: Giphy

The Poinsettia, a native to Mexico and Guatemala, is a Christmas fixture that has become one of the world’s most widely grown plants.

But beyond the plant’s festive charm, the story behind the originally lanky, warm-weather-loving shrub is really one about global business and plant engineering. It’s also a tale about the human impulse, across centuries, to appropriate nature for both status and profit.

✦ We’ll be digging into the soil in our next Weekly Obsession on Poinsettias. Sign up for the email today, and while you’re at it, grab a Quartz membership. It’s 50% off!

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Surprising discoveries

The US has yet to make good on a 200-year-old promise. The Cherokee Nation still lacks a representative in Congress.

The kanji of the year is sen (戦). Japan summed up 2022 with a character meaning “war,” “battle,” or “fight.”

The McDonald’s Big Mac got a Russian rebranding. The “Big Hit” will be served at fast food chain “Tasty, And That’s It” beginning in 2023.

New York City’s digital tree map expanded its canopy. Over 150,000 park trees were added to the database.

There’s a new way to fortify foods with vitamin A. Microparticles could be used to combat deficiency in the essential nutrient.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, Big Hits, and nutrients to hi@qz.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Diego Lasarte, Ana Campoy, Mimansa Verma, Niharika Sharma, Sofia Lotto Persio, Julia Malleck, and Morgan Haefner.