What to watch for today
about 5.8%, the lowest level in six years.
Obama sits down with King Abdullah of Jordan. The agenda for the White House talks includes the military campaign against the Islamic State, the civil war in Syria, and Jordan’s refugee problem.
More data from the Americas. Canada releases its latest monthly employment and trade numbers, Brazil reports on whether inflation remains above its central bank’s target, and most analysts expect Mexico’s central bank to keep interest rates on hold despite weak growth and falling oil prices.
While you were sleeping
The US grappled with police violence. A second night of protests over the chokehold death of Eric Garner took place across the United States. Meanwhile, a federal report found that the Cleveland police force has a history of using excessive force, days after police shot and killed a 12-year-old boy, and the Los Angeles police department found fault with yet another shooting death of an unarmed man last year.
China’s stock market closed a manic week. Despite a slowing economy and an underwhelming plan to link Hong Kong and mainland stock exchanges, the Shanghai stock market has risen nearly 10% for no apparent reason. Analysts say that bull-market enthusiasm “has become self-reinforcing.”
Ukraine’s government announced a new ceasefire. President Petro Poroshenko said in a statement that Kyiv’s forces would withdraw heavy weapons from restive eastern regions if the separatists also observed a “day of silence” on Dec. 9. Previous ceasefire pledges have been quickly broken, with more than 4,300 killed in fighting so far.
German factories revved up. Orders rose more strongly than expected in October, easing concerns about the health of Europe’s economic engine. Speaking of German engines, Mercedes-Benz reported a 13% jump in sales in November, confirming that the carmaker is on track to set a new annual sales record this year.
Russia spent billions to prop up its currency. The central bank reported that it has spent at least $2.6 billion to support the crumbling ruble this week, and trader chatter suggests that it is intervening again today. Wild swings in the currency—both up and down—have become routine in recent weeks.
Chimpanzee rights were denied. A New York court ruled that animal rights activists could not file a lawsuit seeking the freedom of a chimp named Tommy. The judges noted that chimps “cannot bear any legal duties, submit to societal responsibilities or be held legally accountable for their actions,” and thus are not entitled to the same rights as humans.
Quartz obsession interlude
Jeanne Kim on South Korea’s maternity spa culture. “If you aren’t ready to face the chaos and household chores of home right after giving birth, you might want to consider a move to South Korea. For years now, many South Korean women have gone to sanhujoriwon, spa-like postpartum care facilities, to recover from giving birth. In these maternity hotels throughout the country, professional nurses watch the newborns around the clock and give mothers time to recuperate.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
It’s time for the Hong Kong protests to end. So says Benny Tai, one of the protests’ main organizers.
The UK’s new “Google tax” is unworkable. The government won’t be able to collect it without breaking existing treaties (paywall).
Sweden’s political instability is a warning to the rest of Europe. Upstart populist parties are about to wreak havoc across the continent (paywall).
What makes a corporate tax conservative? It depends on where you’re standing.
Obamacare is working incredibly well. So says a batch of new research.
A drug might fix spinal cord injuries. In tests on rats, it disrupts the “sticky glue” that stops nerve cells from regrowing.
You can watch what Brits are worried about in real-time. The Citizens Advice Bureau has a dashboard of searches on the site, updated as they roll in.
“99%” of Russian Olympic athletes are allegedly doping. So says a new documentary that interviewed Russian whistleblowers.
Humans started making art half a million years ago. Engraved mollusk shells may have been carved by homo erectus, an ancestor of modern day humans.
Bats’ brains have 3D compasses. Specialized cells could explain why they fly so deftly.
Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.
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