US VP debate, Pakistan’s parliamentary session, bees with feelings

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

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 Ethiopia and Djibouti. The 600-km 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.

US economic data. Economists expect the nation narrowed its trade deficit a bit in August, while adding slightly fewer jobs in September than it did in August (pdf).

While you were sleeping

The US vice presidential candidates duked it out. Republican Mike Pence lent a sheen of statesmanlike authority to Trump’s record and will probably be considered the winner by most Americans, if not by fact-checkers. But Pence inadvertently created a Twitter hashtag storm when he complained of opponent Tim Kaine bringing up #ThatMexicanThing again, referring to Trump’s slurs against Mexican immigrants.

Hurricane Matthew pounded Cuba and headed for the US. The most powerful storm to hit the Caribbean in over a decade has left at least 11 dead, and could hit Florida by Thursday. South Carolina’s governor said she would issue an evacuation order today so that a million people would have time to flee the coast. 

A Hong Kong pro-democracy activist was detained at Bangkok’s main airport. Supporters of Joshua Wong said he was detained at the request of Beijing. Wong had planned to address a university audience about youth participation in politics, the Umbrella Movement, and Hong Kong’s new political party Demosisto.

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.

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.

Surprising discoveries

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 (paywall).

Panasonic has developed a bendable battery. The device could be a game-changer in wearable technology.

Correction: In Monday’s Surprising Discoveries section we linked to an article about Hillary Clinton asking “Can’t we just drone this guy?” in reference to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. That story has since been discredited.

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