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Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—China’s porn crackdown, Russia’s recession, Ukraine’s ceasefire, tone-deaf teenagers

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What to watch for today

Germany goes greener. Germany is expected to announce plans to amp up its emission cuts on dirty power. 2014 was the first year that Europe’s growth engine generated more of its electricity from renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

GlaxoSmithKline trims the fat. Sources who spoke to Bloomberg say the drugmaker will be speaking to its US employees about a reorganization and “hundreds of job cuts.” In October, Glaxo did say it wanted to shave $1.6 billion off its costs over the next three years.

Takata faces the wrath of Congress. The Japanese airbag maker will face a hearing with the US House Energy and Commerce Committee after failing (paywall) to announce a nationwide recall of its defective airbags (found in Hondas, Fords, Chryslers, Mazdas, and BMWs) at the request of the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Washington hosts a nuclear-safety showdown. US, European, and Russian regulators will go to battle over a potential compromise on nuclear safety, to prevent another Fukushima-like disaster. On their radar: Half of the world’s nuclear reactors were built over three decades ago, and France spends four times as much money on nuclear safety as the US.

Numbers, numbers, numbers. Brazil, Poland, and Canada announce changes (or not) to their benchmark interest rates, private firm ADP posts US unemployment numbers for November, Australia and the euro zone report GDP data, and HSBC announces China’s services and composite PMI figures.

While you were sleeping

China fined its internet companies for porn. Tencent, Baidu, and nine others were reportedly fined an unknown amount of money for propagating online pornography, violence, and gambling to the nation’s people. ”We hope that major companies can shoulder their due, social responsibilities and offer healthy, quality, cultural products,” said a director in the ministry.

Sources said Ashton Carter is Obama’s choice for US defense secretary. An unnamed official said Carter—age 60—will be nominated to become Chuck Hagel’s replacement. Carter has been serving under various Pentagon officials since as far back as the Carter administration. ”On paper and in terms of his resume and preparation you probably couldn’t do much better,” said a Brookings Institute analyst.

A new ceasefire agreement was reached in Ukraine’s east. International observers say that starting Friday, forces fighting in the Luhansk region will honor a new ceasefire. In neighboring Donetsk, however, the situation remains hostile, with fresh attacks taking place during the past few days.

Russia said it’s going to enter a recession next year. Instead of growing 1.2% annually—as it originally predicted—Russia’s economic development ministry now predicts the economy will contract 0.8%. Crucially, disposable incomes, which were expected to rise slightly, are now forecast to shrink by 2.8%. It’s not helping that in this past year alone, the Russian ruble has lost 40% of its value.

You no longer need to prove you’re gay to gain asylum in the EU. That’s what the EU’s top court decreed, after three men were denied refuge in the Netherlands because they couldn’t provide evidence of their sexual orientation. Those seeking asylum in EU member states still have to prove, however, that they’re in danger in their home country.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips on the one problem Americans don’t want to talk about. “Not only is the US now less equal than Europe, it’s less mobile than many European countries. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Americans had a much easier time rising above the station into which they were born than their counterparts in Britain, according to economic historian Joseph Ferrie. Now, a poor Moroccan kid in France is much more likely to move into the middle class than a child born into a poor family in Mississippi.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

We’re addicted to cultural addictions. Being obsessed with cultural products seems to bring people together.

Tunisia is a role model for the Arab world. It has held four successful elections and is the one country where the Arab Spring actually brought about change.

Europe needs to put more pressure on Putin. Or else Putin will show Europe that the Soviet Union never really went away.

This holiday, don’t buy anything for your kids. They already have too much stuff.

The US needs two presidents, not one. Because when you put one person in charge, half the country feels ignored.

Surprising discoveries

Teenagers actually can’t hear you nagging. Really—their brains shut down.

Faking Jackson Pollock artwork is easy. And the man who got caught doing it apparently used his earnings to buy a submarine.

Fishing is becoming obsolete. This man invented a lure so appealing to sea bass that it was banned.

Russia hates sex education. Its government has vowed never to teach children about the birds and the bees.

There’s a secret to holding your breath longer. Learn how to lower your heart rate.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

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