Quartz Daily Brief—Americas—US inflation, Bangladesh unrest, Twitter’s backtrack, 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.

What will Kim Jong-un do next? The shocking execution of the North Korean leader’s uncle, the country’s de facto No. 2 official, has China, South Korea, and other countries nervously awaiting the next volatile development.

While you were sleeping

Russia’s banking crackdown. The country’s central bank withdrew licenses from three lenders in an attempt to curb money laundering and fraud.

Thailand’s protesters want a one-year transition. Suthep Thaugsuban, who is leading a push to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, said his “people’s council” would need a year to institute reforms.

Japan’s industrial output revised upwards. Factory output was up 1% in October from the previous month, not 0.5%, as originally thought. That’s an encouraging sign, as it indicates a continuing rebound.

Clashes in Bangladesh. Four people were killed in unrest following the government’s execution of  Islamist opposition leader Abdul Quader Mollah for crimes during the country’s war of independence in 1971.

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.”

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.

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

Indian voters are making their voices heard. Recent elections are a setback to the ruling Congress party, and a sign that citizens truly understand their democratic power.

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

China’s leaders love “House of Cards.” The head of the Communist Party’s internal discipline body reportedly brings the Netflix series up in meetings. It could teach him a lot about politics.

The world’s tiniest pacemaker. At just a tenth the size of typical pacemakers, doctors can implant the new devices  through patients’ veins.

James Bond is a drunk. UK doctors examined the 14 Bond novels and found the spy consumed the equivalent of five vodka martinis per day, risking liver damage and impotence. 

Courtesy coffee pricing. A cafe in the south of France charges nearly twice as much if patrons order rudely.

The best charts of 2013, hand-picked by Quartz’s staff.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, polite coffee orders, and performance reviews of significant others to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.


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