Good morning, Quartz readers!
WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY AND OVER THE WEEKEND
Donald Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. Nearly a million people are descending on the US capital to either celebrate or protest the mogul’s inauguration. The swearing-in itself promises to be a low-key affair, notable for the absence of star performers, Democratic lawmakers, and ailing former presidentGeorge H.W. Bush.
The US Senate votes on at least two Trump cabinet picks. It’sexpected to confirm retired generals James Mattis and John Kelly to lead, respectively, the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security. Republicans had hoped to clear more nominees today, but Democrats argued the process was being rushed and lacked sufficient financial and ethics paperwork.
The World Economic Forum wraps up with Philip Hammond and Henry Kissinger. Britain’s finance secretary discusses the UK’s future relationship with the EU alongside Barclays CEO Jes Staley and former Italian prime minister Mario Monti. Kissinger thenchats about global prospects for 2017 with forum founder Klaus Schwab.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING
China delivered its dubious GDP figures. Beijing said the nation’s GDP grew by 6.8% in the fourth quarter. As for reality, who knows? This week the government finally admitted to making up some statistics. Today’s figure would suggest growth is stabilizing in the world’s second-biggest economy. For the year, GDP growth was reportedly 6.7%—just as authorities predicted 12 months ago.
US senators grilled Trump’s pick for treasury secretary. In abruising confirmation hearing (paywall) they questioned Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs banker, on his failure to declare almost $100 million in assets. He broke with Trump by voicing a preference for a strong US dollar, and said he wanted to quickly raise the debt ceiling before it maxes out in March.
Senegalese troops entered Gambia after its president refused to give up power. Adama Barrow, who defeated the country’s longtime leader Yahya Jammeh at the polls in December, was sworn in as president in a makeshift ceremony in Dakar, neighboring Senegal’s capital. A Barrow spokesman said Jammeh either “accepts the situation or we are looking at a state of war” (paywall).
US investigators said Tesla’s Autopilot wasn’t to blame for a fatal crash last year. In a big win for Elon Musk, authorities determined that drivers with Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving software were 40% less likely to get in an accident, making Teslas much safer than the average car.
Italian rescuers tried to reach dozens of people missing in an avalanche. They were inside a hotel that was destroyed by tons of snow and ice, shaken loose by a series of recent earthquakes.
QUARTZ OBSESSION INTERLUDE
Dave Gershgorn on the headphone startup that wants to put two extra brains in your ears: “Doppler’s software must be able to do a few things within milliseconds: Identify a specific noise, understand the characteristics of that noise, and then alter the noise without distorting it. These ambitions all rely on machine learning, a still-nascent field in which algorithms are taught to find patterns in data.” Read more here.
QUARTZ MARKETS HAIKU
As the hours count down
Reality has set in
The Street wants results
MATTERS OF DEBATE
Teen drug use can be slashed with “natural highs.” Iceland’s incredibly successful program offers classes in music, dance, hip hop, art, and martial arts.
A populist strongman can alter the nature of a democracy.History shows that authoritarian leaders bend the rules until they are unrecognizable.
The White House should be run like a corporate board. Half a dozen people around a table should make decisions collectively.
Obama briefly considered minting a $1 trillion coin. Facing a government shutdown, it was one way to pay off the national debt.
Dutch trains run on windmill power. There are 2,200 turbinesgenerating enough electricity to meet the country’s mass transport needs.
Twilight actress Kristen Stewart released a research paper on artificial intelligence. The Hollywood A-lister wants to use AI to make art, not just inspire it.
Running could actually be good for your knees. The activity stimulates changes in the biochemical environment inside the joint, which could help it work more smoothly (paywall).
One in five people may “hear” flashes of light. Many may not even realize they are experiencing sensory cross-wiring similar to synesthesia.
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