Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
US vice presidential candidates take the stage. The VP debate is unlikely to be as exciting as last week’s between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump: Both Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Tim Kaine are more traditional career politicians than their potential future bosses. But America’s choice for vice president may matter more this year than it ever has before.
Pakistan attempts a joint session of parliament. In the wake of a cross-border escalation with India, Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif hopes a parliamentary session will “reaffirm the national resolve” and safeguard the nation’s sovereignty. Opposition party leader Imran Khan plans to boycott the session over allegations of corruption.
A new railway connects Addis Ababa and Djibouti. The 600-kilometer electric railway cost $545 million and was financed in large part by Chinese firms that are drawn to Djibouti’s cheap labor, low corruption, and efficient bureaucracy.
While you were sleeping
Hurricane Matthew landed in Haiti. The most powerful storm to hit the Caribbean in over a decade touched down on Haiti’s southwest coast, killing up to six people. The hurricane and its 145 mile-per-hour winds are now headed for the southern United States, where states of emergency have already been declared.
The Philippines’ president said Obama can “go to hell.” Controversy-courting Rodrigo Duterte said he did not need to rely on the United States for arms, and would turn to Russia and China instead. Duterte added that he would “break up with America” over its shifting foreign policies.
Three matter researchers were awarded the Nobel Prize in physics. David Thouless of the University of Washington, Duncan Haldane of Princeton University, and J. Michael Kosterlitz of Brown University won for their explanation of what happens to matter when you push it to extreme states. The committee said their work “combined beautiful mathematics and profound physics insights.”
Google released a new phone. The tech giant announced the launch of Pixel, which comes with a powerful camera, endless storage, a long battery life, virtual-reality capability, and a built-in assistant powered by artificial intelligence.
The Pope made a surprise visit to an earthquake-devastated Italian city. Pope Francis made an unscheduled visit to Amatrice, which was hit hard by an Aug. 24 earthquake that killed 234 people. Francis said he had wanted to visit sooner, but he did not want “to bother anyone.”
Quartz obsession interlude
Alison Griswold on Uber’s troubles with self-driving cars. “For now Uber’s cars have limited operating hours and terrain, and they must travel with two humans up front—a designated ‘safety driver’ behind the wheel and an engineer in the adjacent seat. Even so, the company is pushing this technology onto the public when it remains largely unproven and other tests of driverless cars around the US have yielded their fair share of accidents.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Voting should be restricted to those with knowledge. We need a political system that empowers intelligent people over the average voter.
Russia just became a threat to the US. Vladimir Putin’s decision to renege on a 20-year-old plutonium deal is a red flag from a country with a massive nuclear arsenal.
Chinese investments may put Hollywood in danger. A Chinese firm’s acquisition of US movie chains and studios could open the door to censorship.
Bees get drunk, too. According to a new study, bees made bolder, more optimistic decisions when given sweet nectar than bees that were given water.
Yahoo scanned hundreds of millions of emails on behalf of US intelligence officials. The company even built special software to do the scanning.
Americans weigh less now than they will all year. It takes a long time to shed pounds gained over the winter holidays.
Jakarta’s waterways are 70% blocked. The Indonesian capital is dredging its 17 rivers and canals for the first time since the 1970s.
Panasonic has developed a bendable battery. The device could be a game-changer in wearable technology.
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