What to watch for today
Will Germany keep it in the family? German family-held companies passed down over generations don’t pay an estate tax when the transfer is made. Today, the country’s constitutional court decides whether or not that changes. The decision affects an estimated 130,000 family businesses employing 1.3 million people.
Europe talks Turkey. When Turkey arrested dozens of journalists were arrested earlier this week, it raised all kinds of eyebrows, pushing the European Parliament to host a debate today about Turkey’s long-standing—and increasingly improbable-looking—bid to join the EU.
Ireland opens old wounds. Parliament begins its investigation into the collapse of the country’s economy during the financial crisis, when it had to borrow €64 billion ($79.9 billion) to bail itself out. The Irish are frustrated with the slow recovery since then; a plan to introduce direct water charges seems to be the final straw for many.
Palestine unveils Israel’s exit strategy. The Palestine Liberation Organization plans to ask the UN Security Council to pass a resolution requiring Israel to leave the West Bank by November 2016. The US hasn’t yet said if it will veto the resolution; it’s also got to placate its Arab allies fighting the Islamic State group.
FedEx delivers another surprise. The logistics company’s stock hit a 52-week high after posting its fiscal first-quarter results. Today it reports second-quarter numbers, and given how cheap oil has become in recent months, it could blow past investors’ expectations of $12 billion in revenues.
While you were sleeping
The Russian rouble continued its free-fall. In response to Monday night’s emergency interest-rate hike, the currency initially rallied but then had its biggest one-day fall in 16 years. Some say the only plausible next step is capital controls. That will put further pressure on an economy already suffering from Western sanctions and low oil prices.
Apple won its court case about old iPods. A jury found the company not guilty of anti-competitive practices for introducing security features—now discontinued—that prevented its music players from playing music not bought on iTunes. The class-action lawsuit had sought over $1 billion in damages.
There could be a third Bush in the White House. Jeb Bush, the son of the 41st American president and brother of the 43rd, took to Facebook to announce that he’s “decided to actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States” in 2016. Will he face former first lady Hillary Clinton? She’s yet to make a similar statement.
Record fines in the US. Bloomberg and Reuters both report that French engineering firm Alstom is about to pay $700 million to the US Justice Department to settle allegations of bribery in Indonesia, allowing Alstom’s sale to GE to go ahead. Meanwhile, Sprint is reportedly due to settle for $105 million (paywall) for overcharging mobile subscribers.
A day of carnage in Yemen and Pakistan. The final death toll in the attack on a school by Pakistani Taliban reached 141, including 132 children. Meanwhile, Yemen saw 25 people—including 15 students—perish in a twin car-bombing at a checkpoint in the country’s central Bayda province.
Sony’s hackers threatened violence. Or at least, someone purporting to be Guardians of Peace, the group that stole a massive trove of documents from Sony Pictures and has been leaking them online, warned people to stay away from Sony’s as-yet-unreleased North Korea comedy The Interview, saying, “Remember the 11th of September 2001.”
Quartz obsession interlude
Adam Epstein has found a nation of Scrooges. “A recent survey conducted by YouGov revealed that most French people are not planning to have themselves a merry little Christmas. When asked if they were looking forward to Christmas this year, 57% of French respondents said they were not—far more than any other country polled.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Income inequality is the secret to the “Uber economy”. You need scores of people to do your bidding in order to make the on-demand economy work.
All hail the era of transparency. Leaks, surveillance, hacks—the more people believe their secrets aren’t safe, the better they’ll behave.
Gated communities make crime worse. As South Africa is discovering, they break down the social cohesion that’s part of crime prevention.
The Lima climate conference didn’t achieve its goals. Though 196 countries signed up to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, the commitments will be hard to enforce.
Shinzo Abe finally has a full mandate to fix Japan. He needs to use it.
The US needs to adopt the metric system already. Its reasons for sticking to imperial units are antiquated and nonsensical.
Losing your job changes how you see people. Research shows it makes you less likely to trust others.
Americans are having trouble sleeping at night. An estimated 30% of the working population sleeps six hours or less.
Be suspicious of a Santa Claus with a big sack. One San Francisco Santa used his disguise to rob a bank.
How to celebrate Christmas safely in the UAE. The British embassies have published a slightly modified version of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” including verses such as: “No holding of hands or Christmas kisses / Under the mistletoe despite amorous wishes”.
Russians shouldn’t worry about the fate of the rouble. One Russian TV channel has an astrologer who says it’ll all work out fine.
Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.