Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Investors led by Bill Gates put $1 billion into clean energy innovation. Their new fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, hopes to commercialize promising research to fight climate change. “You need investment to take things out of a research lab,” Gates told Quartz. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Virgin’s Richard Branson are also investors.
Christine Lagarde goes on trial. The head of the International Monetary Fund is charged with negligence over a €400 million payout awarded to a French businessman that dates back to the 1990s. She is the third IMF managing director in a row to face legal woes. Her trial, in a French special court of legislators and magistrates, lasts until Dec. 20.
There’s a new UN secretary-general in town. António Guterres, former prime minister of Portugal, is to be sworn in to replace the incumbent, Ban Ki-moon of South Korea. He will become “the world’s top diplomat” for at least five years beginning on Jan. 1.
Over the weekend
Turkey was shaken by terror attacks… A Kurdish militant group has claimed responsibility for the explosions that shook Istanbul on Saturday, killing 38 and injuring at least 160. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan seems to expect more violence ahead, tweeting that Turkey will have to “keep spilling more” blood to fight terrorist groups.
…and its economy suffered. Battered by rising inflation and falling tourist revenues after the failed coup and a number of terror attacks this year, the country’s GDP fell 1.8% in the third quarter—its worst contraction since the global financial crisis. A dip in exports and household spending also exacerbated the situation. The lira plunged (paywall) against the dollar on Monday morning.
Trump waved off his daily top-secret intelligence briefing. “I get it when I need it,” he said of the president’s daily brief. He also dismissed as “ridiculous” the CIA’s view that Russia backed him in the elections by hacking Democratic emails—something a bipartisan group of senior senators now wants investigated. And he angered China by saying the US might use its adherence to the ”one China” position (treating Taiwan as part of China) as a bargaining chip with Beijing. Chinese press called him “as ignorant as a child.”
A new prime minister for Italy. President Sergio Mattarella picked foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni to lead a new government. Gentiloni’s new role won’t be official until he wins parliament’s vote of confidence this week. Former PM Matteo Renzi resigned last week, after Italian voters rejected his proposal to streamline government decision-making.
ISIL regained ground. Nine months after being routed from Palmyra, the so-called Islamic State has retaken the ancient city, according to Syrian officials. ISIL previously held Palmyra for 10 months (paywall), during which time the group destroyed irreplaceable religious and historical buildings.
UniCredit sold off its asset-management arm. Italy’s largest bank sold Pioneer Investments to Amundi (paywall) for €3.54 billion ($3.74 billion) to try to streamline the bank and boost its capital levels. UniCredit is expected to present its plan for raising €13 billion in capital tomorrow.
Quartz obsession interlude
Ana Campoy on what Americans should teach their children under a Trump presidency. “Kahlenberg has called Trump’s election a ‘Sputnik moment’ that should spur the same kind of investment in civics education as the Soviet satellite did for science back in the late 1950s and 1960s. As the US seeks to compete with other world economies, practical subjects such as reading and math have crowded out civics lessons, he argued in a recent report.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Trump does not play by the rules when it comes to China and Taiwan. But the history of relations between the three parties holds many lessons for him.
Italy poses a huge threat to the euro. It won’t be long before the country is led by a party in favor of leaving the single currency (paywall).
Your procrastination can be overcome with science. Well, if you ever get around to reading this article.
An American posing as a police officer accidentally pulled over a real cop. He was arrested, rather than the other way around.
There’s a “Rent-a-Jew” program in Germany. A Jewish NGO launched it to give people the chance to meet the country’s Jewish community.
An adorable goggles-wearing parrot is helping researchers understand how birds fly. The lessons could be used to make better drones and aircraft.
Hayao Miyazaki isn’t impressed with the idea of AI-made cartoons. The animation legend called a project to model new forms of movement “an insult to life itself.”
The world’s oldest-known seabird is still feeling frisky. The 66-year-old albatross is incubating another egg, making her the oldest breeding bird on record.
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