Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Another sign that China is overheating. The country’s GDP, which it announces today, is likely to exceed its stated target of 7.5%, thanks to a gush of lending and stimulus money. A GDP over 7.6% would signal that China isn’t serious about tackling its debt.
Is the yen still shining on Japanese business? Japanese industries have been on a tear for three consecutive months as of October, helped along by a weaker yen. November data out today will indicate if the winning streak continues.
Who will defend the Central African Republic? EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels today to determine which countries will dispatch peacekeeping forces to secure the capital of the Central African Republic, Bangui, amid conflict between Christian militias and mostly Muslim rebel forces.
The Iranian economy gets a break. The US will start easing sanctions against Iran involving petrochemical, vehicle and metals trade today, in exchange for Iran eliminating its uranium stockpile. The limited relief will boost Iran’s economy by $6 billion to $7 billion, according to some estimates.
South Korea and Switzerland play nice. South Korean president Park Geun-hye meets with Swiss president Didier Burkhalter about beefing up industrial and technological cooperation between the two countries. Park’s visit to Switzerland, part of her international business-boosting campaign, is the first since the two opened diplomatic relations in 1963.
While you were sleeping
Public protests in Kiev turned violent. Clashes erupted in the Ukraine after tens of thousands of demonstrators took the the streets, rallying against new laws aimed to curb public protest. Ukrainian frustration has been brewing since president Viktor Yanukovich nixed a free-trade agreement with the EU in November to please Russia.
Another bombing hit Bangkok. Explosions rocked Bangkok again, two days after another bombing wounded scores of people at an anti-government rally. Thailand’s prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved parliament in December amid an eight-year power struggle, calling for new elections on Feb. 2.
The Vatican submitted itself for a Holocaust test. Jewish groups applauded Pope Francis’s decision to open the Vatican archives and investigate the actions of his predecessor Pius XII during the Holocaust. Pius is currently being evaluated for canonization, despite criticism from Jewish organizations that he failed to speak up against the Holocaust.
The UAE went army shopping. The United Arab Emirates announced compulsory military service for men. The move comes amid a territorial dispute with Iran over three Gulf islands, as well as intensifying conflicts in Syria and Iraq.
Quartz obsession interlude
Roberto Ferdman on why Dr. Dre’s Beats Music has its model all wrong. “[E]ssentially, Beats is betting it can beat Spotify at its own game. There’s only one kink in Dre Dre’s master plan: He’s shouldn’t have chosen Spotify as the company to copy. Pandora may not be the coolest music streaming product, but it is the best music streaming business right now.”
Matters of debate
Google is the new GE. In a break from the past, the company is positioning itself as a major inventor of hardware.
Asian male computer programmers have a leg up because they look the part. Programmers who aren’t white or Asian males face a battery of discouraging comments and are often barred from enjoying the same opportunities.
Wall Street loves Yahoo’s Asian investments. The company’s valuations make no sense unless viewed through the prism of its investments in Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, and in Japan’s digital market.
The US government is sending mixed messages on gay marriage and polygamy. A US federal court judge recently struck down the US government’s ban on plural marriages in Utah. That could leave the US Supreme Court in a “quandary” about how to approach gay marriage.
The Jamaican bobsled team qualified for the Olympics. For the first time in more than a decade, the team earned a spot in the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The bobsledders are accepting PayPal donations to help them get there.
American seniors are contracting STDs at alarming rates. Rates of chlamydia and syphilis among Americans 65 and over resemble those of the 20- to 24-year-old age group.
Prairie dogs are infanticidal cannibalistic serial murderers. Scientists noticed that not many mating females ended up with babies, and some would emerge from their female relatives’ burrows with blood on their faces.
The US is more responsible for the rise in global temperatures than China and Russia combined. The top seven countries—the US, China, Russia, Brazil, India, Germany and the UK—contributed 60% of the global warming that took place between 1906 and 2005, according to recent research.