What to watch for today
A new space race. Researchers meeting in Luxembourg are going to discuss several key issues concerning the continent’s space program—in particular, how to address SpaceX in the competition for commercial satellite launches, and how to fill the budget gap for a 2018 Mars-bound mission.
NATO tackles Putin. Foreign ministers have a lot on their plate, what with pro-Russian forces making fresh attacks on Donetsk. At today’s meeting, Putin’s aggression and NATO’s options for deploying its forces in the Baltics will be the main topics of discussion.
Large-scale air bag recall. Last month, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told Takata—the maker of air bags that have been linked to several fatalities—to issue a nationwide recall by today. If Takata fails to do so, it risks racking up fines of up to $7,000 per vehicle that the regulator wants to see recalled.
Obama’s latest showdown with Congress. When the US president announced plans to exercise his executive power and usher in immigration reform, Republicans were incensed. Today the House Judiciary Committee hosts a hearing aimed at ironing out whether or not the president’s actions should be deemed unconstitutional.
Lufthansa’s grounded long-haul flights. This is day two of a 36-hour pilot strike—the ninth that the German airline has faced this year alone. Unlike yesterday, when only shorter flights were grounded, Tuesday’s cancelations will include overseas and other long-haul flights. Approximately 150,000 passengers will be affected, and the company’s is expected to post its worst numbers in nearly three years.
While you were sleeping
The fight against AIDS reached a major milestone. The number of people who were infected with the HIV virus last year was—for the first time—lower than the number of people who began taking drugs to keep the disease at bay. The United Nations says we can beat AIDS by the year 2030.
15,000 robots helped Amazon on Cyber Monday. Last year on the Monday after Thanksgiving in the US, Amazon customers ordered 36.8 million items—roughly 426 every second. That record was expected to be broken this year, with an army of 320-lb robots helping the online retailer get packages out the door.
Japan’s credit rating was taken down a notch. The ratings agency Moody’s is unimpressed by prime minister Shinzō Abe’s decision to delay a sales-tax increase, scheduled for October 2015. The country’s new AA3 rating puts it on par with the Czech Republic. News of the ratings cut came just after the Nikkei hit a seven-year high.
The US and Turkey discussed their ISIL strategy. That’s according to officials from both countries who spoke to The Wall Street Journal. The sources said that Turkey would let American forces use its air bases, and that there’s talk of a potential “protected zone“ (paywall) on the border of Syria that would be off limits to Assad’s regime.
Details of Glass 2.0 trickled out. The Wall Street Journal says Google’s futuristic eyewear—on sale since April 2013—will finally get an update next year, with an Intel chip inside. There’s still no word as to whether the $1,500 price tag will be trimmed.
Quartz obsession interlude
Kabir Chibber on the proliferation of the European right. “Any changes to the basic right of free movement within the EU must be endorsed by the rest of its members. Cameron had floated plans for a Swiss-style migrant cap, but these were a non-starter, perhaps because of a German intervention. Now, with nothing more up his sleeve, Cameron said he would “rule nothing out” if the UK didn’t win backing for his new, more limited proposals—implying that he would campaign to leave the EU in a future referendum.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Cheap oil has a dark side. Companies invest less in alternatives, Europe risks a recession, and Russia becomes even more aggressive.
Free shipping isn’t free. It actually costs retailers a lot of money ($6 billion for Amazon alone), but without it, customers often fail to complete their online orders.
James Watson shouldn’t be auctioning off his Nobel Prize medallion. And bidding on it is a bad idea.
Doping isn’t always cheating. There are plenty of legal alternatives to the growing list of banned substances (paywall) in the world of sport.
Obama’s next defense secretary will help burnish his legacy. Chuck Hagel left his successor plenty of room for improvement in matters of foreign policy.
New classes of drugs will soon be possible. UK scientists have achieved a world first: artificially engineered enzymes.
You can now buy everything online. Yes, that finally include Girl Scout cookies.
Google’s got a secret. Its self driving cars weren’t developed in-house—they were the result of an acquisition.
Russia’s police officers have an interesting way of earning the public’s trust. They post selfies with their moms.
Even minor hits are enough to do permanent damage. High school football players—including the ones who never had a head injury—have altered brain structures.
Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.