Quartz Daily Brief—Drone testing, Sochi security, against specialization, Zappos holacracy

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What to watch for today

Israel releases Palestinian prisoners. About two dozen prisoners will be let out ahead of New Year’s day peace talks among US secretary of state John Kerry, Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

US home prices continue to rise. The October Case-Shiller housing-price index is expected to show that the two-year trend in rising real-estate prices hasn’t stopped yet.

The manager behind Obamacare retires. Michelle Snyder, who was responsible for the day-to-day implementation of the new US health-care law, will step down, effectively taking the fall for its troubled roll-out. But on Jan. 1 the law will take effect in surprisingly better shape than it began.

While you were sleeping

Drones to be tested from Alaska to New York. US federal aviation regulators will begin testing unmanned aerial vehicles at six sites ahead of establishing rules for their general use after fierce competition to host the projects.

When the rubber met the road, a US-Indian tire deal failed. Cross-border legal woes put an end to the $2.5 billion takeover of US Cooper Tire by India’s Apollo Tyre, leaving only recriminations behind.

Egypt could advance its presidential election. The government is likely to switch the order of the presidential and parliamentary polls, clearing the way for General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the country’s de-facto ruler, to be installed as president before a legislature is elected.

The US offered to help Russia secure the Sochi Olympics. After two recent attacks, and with fears that Islamist extremists might target the world games, the US extended a helping hand—one we’re sure Russian president Vladimir Putin appreciated.

Michael Schumacher remained in critical condition. The Formula One racing star is in an induced coma in a French hospital after a skiing accident.

Quartz obsession interlude

Leo Mirani on the prematurely reported death of Facebook. ”As it turns out, a Pew report out today from the other side side of the Atlantic explains rather nicely: People young and old are indeed signing up to networks that are not called Facebook. But they are not leaving Facebook. … Social networking is not a zero-sum game. Just as it is possible to have several groups of friends, or several sets of interests, or even different email accounts, it is conceivable that-free thinking individuals will spread out their interests across sites that offer them different things.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

How to stop a war between China and Japan. Sell the disputed islands to environmentalists.

2013 was a good year for US financial reform. Thanks, in part, to massive scandals such as the “London Whale.”

The free market will be bitcoin’s undoing. Here’s one scenario for what could make the price of bitcoin plunge.

Against specialization. Contrary to the received wisdom of “comparative advantage,” cities and countries develop faster when they diversify.

Surprising discoveries

No managers and no job titles. Meet the radical holacrats at Zappos.

An anti-semitic salute sells in France. Its creator hopes to profit from a gesture he calls “anti-establishment.”

Sharks are tweeting to warn people of their whereabouts. It’s a way to save their lives, not yours.

A cereal mogul convinced everyone coffee is bad for kids. It’s not—but we’re still worried about “Mr. Coffee Nerves.”

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, shark @-replies and coffee myths to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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