What to watch for today
Will Germany keep it in the family? German family-held companies don’t pay an estate tax; the country’s constitutional court will decide whether that should change. The decision affects an estimated 130,000 family businesses employing 1.3 million people.
Europe talks Turkey. When Turkey arrested dozens of journalists earlier this week, it prompted the European Parliament to host a debate about Turkey’s long-standing—and increasingly improbable-looking—bid to join the EU.
Ireland opens an old wound. Parliament begins its investigation into the collapse of the country’s economy during the 2008 financial crisis, when it had to borrow €64 billion ($79.9 billion) for a bailout.
A look at Oracle’s cloud. The software giant’s earnings are expected to focus on growth in its cloud computing services (paywall). The company has fallen short of analyst estimates for the past three quarters.
FedEx delivers earnings. Investors will be scouring the logistics company’s quarterly numbers to see how cheap oil and holiday shopping levels have affected its margins.
While you were sleeping
Apple halted online sales in Russia. Extreme fluctuations in the ruble forced the iPhone manufacturer to close its primary sales channel in the country. Last month, Apple had to raise the Russian price of an iPhone 6 by 25% to keep pace with the currency’s declining value.
Haiti protests turned violent. Police fired tear gas after demonstrators calling for the resignation of president Michel Martelly burned tires and threw stones at police in Port-au-Prince. Martelly has repeatedly delayed elections since 2011.
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 will “actively explore” a 2016 presidential run. He could well face Hillary Clinton, who has yet to make a similar statement.
Threats prompted a theater chain to drop “The Interview.” Carmike Cineamas, the fourth-largest US chain, won’t screen Sony’s controversial North Korea comedy, according to Bloomberg. The move comes after Guardians of Peace, the group that leaked a massive trove of Sony documents, threatened audiences, warning, “Remember the 11th of September 2001.”
American Apparel finally dumped Dov Charney. The clothing company’s founder was suspended in June after a string of sexual harassment allegations, but stayed on as a consultant; now he’s out for good. Paula Schneider will replace him in early January and vowed to maintain the brand’s “sweatshop-free, made-in-USA manufacturing philosophy.”
Alaska may lose its AAA credit rating. Low oil prices could squeeze the state government’s tax revenues (paywall), Moody’s said. Last year about half of the state’s income came from the oil industry.
Mars may be home to some gassy organisms. NASA’s Curiosity rover detected “belches” of methane gas, which may be escaping from underground reservoirs. On Earth, most methane is produced by living organisms, so it’s a tantalizing sign of possible life on Mars—but it might just come from chemical reactions between water and rock.
Quartz obsession interlude
Matt Phillips on the changes in the world economy illuminated by cheap oil. ”The decline in oil prices—the global benchmark of Brent crude is down 48% over the last six months—is part of a particularly fast reshuffling of economic facts that’s whipsawed the world’s financial indicators. Investors have suddenly woken up to the fact that the global economy today looks much different than the one that they’ve been betting on in recent years.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Inequality is the secret to the “Uber economy.” Its business model requires lots of poor people working for rich ones.
“Garbage” should be the word of the year. It applies to journalism, tweets, and political candidates.
Gated communities make crime worse. They break down the social cohesion that prevents crime in the first place.
Shinzo Abe finally has a full mandate to fix Japan. He needs to use it.
The US needs to adopt the metric system. Its reasons for sticking to imperial units are nonsensical.
Losing your job changes how you see people. It makes you less likely to trust others, for starters.
A non-profit group wants to compost your dead body. One human ought to be enough for a tree.
Bad Santa robbed a San Francisco bank. And he got away with it, thanks to thousands of Santas in town for a pub crawl.
New Zealand is trying to eradicate most of its mammals. Predatory rodents are decimating native species.
And one unsurprising discovery: Vladimir Putin has been voted Russia’s “Man of the Year” for the 15th consecutive time.
Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.