#Trump cabinet hearings, #VW nears settlement, #Obama job offer

Good morning, Quartz readers!

WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY

The Trump cabinet’s confirmation hearings continue… A crazy busy week in US politics continues as senators grill nomineesincluding Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of state, and Mike Pompeo, his pick for CIA director. Many of the picks have not yet undergone compulsory ethics reviews.

… and Trump holds a long-awaited post-election press conference. Don’t get your hopes up too high—a previously promised event to discuss the president-elect’s conflicts of interest has yet to happen. This time around, Trump has promised a “general news conference,” but the transition team hasn’t even announced a location yet.

Belgium holds public hearings on security failings linked to terrorist attacks. Lawmakers are looking into why the perpetrators of the Paris and Brussels attacks were not effectively tracked. A confidential parliament report finalized last September revealed that numerous opportunities to unmask a key ISIL terror cell were missed.

SPONSOR CONTENT BY BARCLAYS

ESG investing: what’s the impact? A new study shows a positive link between high-ESG corporate bond portfolios and performance, dispelling the myth that doing good for the planet is a negative investment. Barclays’ infographic explains.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING

Trump’s pick for attorney general denied he was a racist. Jeff Sessions testified in a boisterous Senate confirmation hearing that heabhorred racist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan, as protesters repeatedly disrupted the event. He has faced allegations of racism for decades.

Buzzfeed surfaced a dossier making explosive accusations against Trump. The report suggests Russian operatives have compromising information on Trump, including details of “perverted” acts conducted in a Ritz-Carlton in Moscow. A Buzzfeed disclaimer noted the allegations were “unverified, and potentially unverifiable.” Trump tweeted it was “fake news.”

Barack Obama gave his farewell address. He name-checked democracy 20 times, more than the last 15 presidents combined. He also called for an end to “filter bubbles,” and issued a plea for Americans to embrace their citizenship.

Volkswagen is close to a $4.3 billion settlement. The carmaker said it was finalizing a deal with US authorities that will include a guilty plea on some criminal charges in its emissions-cheating scandal. The company’s liaison with environmental regulators was recently arrested in Florida.

Wal-Mart is planning big job cuts. The company is planning toeliminate hundreds of positions this month, including many in human resources. The retailer has been looking for a way to streamline operations to compete with e-commerce in a time of rising wages.

China flexed its muscles in the South China Sea. A Chinese strategic bomber flew around the disputed Spratly archipelago over the weekend, according to the US military. Beijing has mounted several displays of force since Trump roiled relations by taking a call from Taiwan’s president.

QUARTZ OBSESSION INTERLUDE

Annalisa Merelli on why people hate the liberal elite: “I am used to being attacked and insulted by conservatives for my choices and opinions. But the liberal critiques I read weren’t so much attacking my decision as they were questioning my intelligence and my ability to understand the issue.” Read more here.

QUARTZ HAIKU INTERLUDE

When a satellite
business comes to earth, watch out:
Metaphors can drop

MATTERS OF DEBATE

India’s demonetization was more than an economic policy. Itwas a yagna (worship or sacrifice) to purge “internal evils” that bedevil the country.

Angela Merkel is Putin’s next target. She’s the only European leader (paywall) still willing to stand up to Russia.

People who curse seem authentic. Because profanity is taboo,they are seen to be more honest.

SURPRISING DISCOVERIES

A German lawmaker wants state-sponsored prostitutes for the elderly. A similar system already exists in the Netherlands.

America’s opioid crisis has a grim silver lining. Organ transplants are up 20% since 2012 due to a surge in deadly overdoses.

A freak gust of wind created the scoop of the century. War correspondent Claire Hollingworth, who just died at 105, spotted German tanks about to invade Poland in 1939.

Barack Obama has a hot job offer. Spotify wants him to become“president of playlists”—or he could just keep contributing to peer-reviewed science journals.

Sailor Moon is helping fight STDs in Japan. The Japanese government is enlisting the anime icon’s help after a massive spike in syphilis infection rates in 2016.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, ex-POTUS jobs, and future scoops to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or downloadour apps for iPhone and Android.

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