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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe—Hong Kong protests escalate, Sony movies leaked, Uber’s Thailand ban, Aerosmith’s asteroid revival

By Quartz Staff

What to watch for today

Vladimir Putin visits Turkey. The Russian president will discuss trade and energy with Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but the leaders are unlikely to find common ground on two contentious issues: Russia’s backing of Syrian president Bashar al-Asaad, and Putin’s annexation of Crimea.

The US Supreme Court considers Facebook threats. Justices will consider whether a man who posted violent rap lyrics about killing his estranged wife on Facebook is entitled to free speech protections under the US constitution.

Key climate talks kick off. Negotiators from more than 190 countries are meeting in Lima for COP20, the last ministerial meeting ahead of a major conference in Paris next year. There’s some cautious optimism following a recent US-China deal.

Over the weekend 

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests escalated. Police and demonstrators clashed in front of Hong Kong’s main government office on Sunday night and into Monday, marking a newly violent stage of the pro-democracy protests that have entered their third month. Student leaders called on thousands of protesters to surround the office of Hong Kong’s chief executive, and police used fire hoses, pepper spray, and baton charges to repel them.

Samsung didn’t fire its mobile phone boss after all. Mobile business head J.K. Shin retained his top spot despite speculation he could be replaced due to a precipitous decline in profits at Samsung’s smartphone division. A source told ZDNet that Samsung heir apparent Jay Y. Lee’s decision showed “deference toward his father and the current restructuring drive.”

Hackers leaked unreleased movies from Sony. Attacks on the company’s computer networks resulted in at least five pre-release movies being pirated online. The hackers’ identity and motive is unknown, but the government of North Korea—which was angered by a forthcoming North Korean-themed comedy from Sony—is among the suspects.

Uber was banned in Thailand. The on-demand car service’s vehicles and drivers are improperly registered, do not comply with regulated rates, and discriminate against customers without credit cards, according to a Thai transportation regulator. Drivers for Uber, which has been operating in Bangkok and Phuket for about a year, will face heavy fines if they continue to operate.

China’s factory output slowed again. The official purchasing managers’ index for November was a lower-than-expected 50.3, down from 50.8 in October. That is barely above the 50.0 mark that separates contraction from expansion, and adds more pressure on China’s central bank to stimulate the economy.

Nicolas Sarkozy is back in the game. The former French president was elected head of the opposition party UMP, trouncing his rivals with 64.5% of the vote. His comeback comes 10 years after he first won the same position and went on to become France’s president.

Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson resigned. The officer who shot and killed the black teenager Michael Brown in August cited his concern for other officers and the community, telling the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “I’m not willing to let someone else get hurt because of me.”

Taiwan’s ruling party got whupped. Premier Jiang Yi-huah stepped down after the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party lost seats nationwide as voters sent a message of dissatisfaction over its economic management and closer ties with China. The KMT also lost the mayoral race in Taipei for the first time in 16 years.

Quartz obsession interlude

Julia Bolton Holloway on why she’d rather teach illiterate Roma than Ivy Leaguers. “I have taught university students at Berkeley, Princeton, and Boulder. I prefer teaching illiterate Roma, all ages, and learning from them the richness of their culture, the excellence of their skills, and the strength of their families.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

If poor people knew how rich rich people were, there would be riots in the streets. So says Chris Rock.

The Hunger Games reflects our society’s ills. The problem is it reflects different ills depending on who you ask.

Learning to code? Choose just one language. JavaScript, Ruby, or Python.

Twins are bad for the economy. Low birth weight reduces earning potential, and families bear higher health and education costs.

Surprising discoveries

The Philae landing was a boost for Aerosmith. The asteroid probe spurred people to revisit the Armageddon soundtrack.

Coffee tastes different depending on mug color. A blue mug may accentuate the brew’s bitterness.

Future space missions may be powered by poop. Researchers have found a way to turn astronaut waste into biogas.

Bones from a giant penguin species were discovered. They were found in a New Zealand storage facility.

ISIL released a new pancake recipe. It is designed to help the “the energy and power of the Mujahideen.”

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, color-coded coffee mugs, and giant penguin bones to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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