Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—US budget advances, Kim’s uncle executed, Twitter blocking uproar, courtesy coffee pricing

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What to watch for today

An early signal on US inflation. Analysts expect the producer price index (PPI) to have crept up in November, which will fuel more talk about when the Federal Reserve will wind down its economic stimulus.

Nature’s own fireworks. Shooting stars will light up the sky during the biggest meteor event of the year when Geminid meteors—unusual because they come from an asteroid, not a comet—burn through the earth’s atmosphere.

Ban Ki-moon discusses Syria. The UN Secretary General will brief the General Assembly on a new report from inspectors finding chemical weapons were likely used at five sites in Syria.

While you were sleeping

Kim Jong Un’s uncle was executed. The official KCNA news agency said Jang Song Thaek, once one of North Korea’s most powerful men, was executed for “attempting to overthrow the state.” Earlier this week he was kicked out of the ruling party for financial mismanagement, drug use, and womanizing.

The House passed a budget deal, voting 332-94—with an almost equal number of Republican and Democratic supporters—to approve a two-year deal. The Senate is likely to give its approval next week.

New Zealand consumer confidence rose. An expanding economy pushed the ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index up to 129.4 in December from 128.4 the previous month—close to a four-year high.

Boeing machinists rejected a labor deal. Union leaders said no to contract that would have established the new 777X jetliner’s production in Washington state. The company is now more likely to shift the work to another state.

Mexico approved energy reforms. Historic legislation that will open the country’s state-run oil sector to foreign firms for the first time in 75 years. One disapproving member of parliament removed his clothes during a debate to protest “the stripping of Mexico’s oil wealth.”

Twitter changed its blocking feature, then changed it back. The company sparked an online uproar by altering its policy, raising concerns about online abuse, then retreated hours later, saying “we never want to introduce features at the cost of users feeling less safe.”

Yet another crisis-related bank fine. In the latest installment of financial misdemeanors, Bank of America agreed to pay $131.8 million to settle charges that its Merrill Lynch unit had misled investors before BofA bought it in 2008.

Quartz obsession interlude

David Yanofsky on China’s sudden interest in American photographic film. “[J]ust as film seems on the brink of obsolescence, US film exports are experiencing an unlikely resurgence. During the first 10 months of 2013 the US exported $273 million-worth of bulk film rolls—the raw material that is cut into the type of film that eventually ends up in cameras and x-ray machines. That’s more than the previous three full years combined, and the best January-to-October period since at least 2002, before digital cameras began decimating the film business. Most of it was headed to China.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

There’s nothing wrong with Gisele’s breastfeeding pic. Her much-hated Instagram, in which she’s surrounded by her entourage, reflected the reality of her motherhood.

Companies should institute six-hour workdays. Employees who put in more hours merely end up being less productive.

Give your spouse a performance review. Year-end reviews shouldn’t just be for employees. They’re also important—though more delicate—for friends and family (pay wall).

Surprising discoveries

Americans don’t relocate much anymore. Economic and geographic mobility are crucial in the US, but migration rates have fallen to post-war lows in recent years.

YouTube is no longer the people’s medium. Its most popular videos are now mostly professionally made.

Your coffee will be cheaper if you’re polite. A cafe in the south of France charges nearly twice as much if you order your coffee in a rude fashion.

The best charts of 2013. Picks by all our staff members.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, carbonated coffee recipes and YouTube home movies to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.


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