#US probes #Russia hack, #Venezuela shuts border, #Mozart outsells #Drake

Good morning, Quartz readers!

WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY

Russia releases preliminary GDP figures. They should indicate whether the economy is picking up steam after the stagnation that began during the war in Ukraine. The economy shrank 0.4% last quarter from a year previous, which was less than analysts had expected.

India publishes trade statistics. Gold imports more than doubledin October, and they’re to climb even higher in November in the wake of the government’s attempt to flush out illicit cash hoarding.

South Korea, Japan, and the US discuss Pyongyang.Representatives from the three countries meet in Seoul to flesh out plans for new sanctions on North Korea’s nuclear program. The UN security council passed a resolution in November to target coal sales.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING

Trump postponed explaining how he would separate himself from his business. He was supposed to hold a press conference on the issue Dec. 15, but now it will be January. This gives the Electoral College, which votes Dec. 19 to officially make him US president, a legitimate reason to vote him down, ethics lawyers say. He also confirmed ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state pick.

US Republicans backed an investigation into Russian election hacking. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and House speaker Paul Ryan both said they would look into allegations that Moscow interfered in the US presidential race. That puts them in opposition to Trump, who attacked the CIA for its conclusions about Russia’s involvement.

Venezuela closed its Colombia border to fight currency smuggling. The 72-hour shutdown will help it fight “mafias” smuggling hard-to-find cash, said president Nicolas Maduro. The move comes after the inflation-ravaged country yanked its largest-denomination bill—worth just $0.02—from circulation.

Paolo Gentiloni took the reins as Italy’s new prime minister. Heopted to keep almost the entire cabinet from his predecessor Matteo Renzi, who resigned after losing a national referendum. The loss of support from a small center-right party could threaten Gentiloni’s parliamentary majority.

QUARTZ OBSESSION INTERLUDE

Gwynn Guilford on the brewing war between Donald Trump and Janet Yellen. “A Trump boom that boosts US economic potential by spurring business investment will not necessarily be dangerously inflationary, all else being equal. However, as employment and investment rise, prices will inevitably rise—even more so if Trump raises trade barriers as promised.” Read more here.

QUARTZ HAIKU INTERLUDE

Russia slashes oil
production. Who says Putin
can’t play with others?

MATTERS OF DEBATE

The vegetarian revolution is nigh. Innovative new veggie burgers will make it easier to admit that factory farming is horrible.

“Female” bots are the opposite of futuristic. They represent abadly outdated version of womanhood.

Exchange traded funds need to be carefully scrutinized.Investing pioneer Jack Bogle says ETFs have radically changed the way (paywall) the stock market works.

SURPRISING DISCOVERIES

Mozart outsold Drake and Beyoncé in 2016. The composer moved more CDs than anyone thanks to a massive box set.

Christmas is a merry health hazard. Regulators have compiled alist of Yuletide injuries, many related to holiday decorations.

New York City is facing “persistent flooding.” If sea levels rise 1 ft (30 cm), 60 sq miles (155 sq km) could be underwater by 2050.

LinkedIn is the best place to find experienced Santas. The social networking site for job seekers is chock-full of holiday hopefuls.

Scottish Amazon workers are living in a tent city. They would rather brave the cold than bear the cost of their lengthy commute.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, Mozart CDs, and Christmas injuries to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android.

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