What to watch for today
The search for a missing AirAsia plane continues. Flight QZ8501 most likely crashed into the Java Sea, according to the head of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency. Ships and aircraft are scouring the waters off Borneo where the flight, carrying 162 people, vanished from radar.
Palestine’s motion goes to the UN. Jordan will present a draft resolution calling for Israel to withdraw from the West Bank within three years (paywall), on behalf of Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. The resolution—which the US lobbied hard against, and will likely veto—suggests reverting to 1967 borders, and calls for a “comprehensive” peace treaty between Israel and Palestine.
A rescue continues on a burning ferry in Greece. Helicopters and boats have taken 200 of 478 passengers off an Italian-flagged car ferry, which is on fire and adrift off the island of Corfu. At least one person has died, and poor weather has hindered rescue efforts.
While you were sleeping
“The Interview” made $15 million online. The controversial North Korean-themed comedy was streamed or purchased some 2 million times on platforms including YouTube—making about five times more in online sales than at movie theaters. The film is also now available on Apple’s iTunes platform, and bootleg DVD copies are reportedly going for more than $50 within the hermit kingdom.
Qualcomm agreed to settle in China. The US chipmaker, which licenses its technology patents to smartphone makers, said it would reach an agreement to end a 13-month investigation by Beijing authorities into its pricing strategies. The deal will likely involve a large fine as well as an alteration to how the company operates its highly profitable licensing structures (paywall).
Libyan rebels attacked the country’s oil sector. Militant group Libya Dawn destroyed 800,000 barrels of oil—equal to two days’ national output—after it hit oil storage tanks in Libya’s Es Sider port with a missile on Friday. Three oil tanks are still on fire; the news nudged global oil prices marginally higher.
Kiev passed austerity measures. Ukrainian legislators approved measures to simplify tax laws and raise import duties, as it tries to meet the conditions for a major bailout from the International Monetary Fund. The new legislation will attempt to lower taxes for small businesses while closing loopholes used by the country’s oligarchs (paywall).
The US-led war in Afghanistan is officially over—but 13,500 troops remain. For the US-led forces, known collectively as the International Security Assistance Force, a 13-year campaign has come to an end. But the Taliban insurgency continues, and 13,500 soldiers—mostly American—still remain, to train and guide Afghan forces.
Sony’s PlayStation network was restored. The company said it had ended several days of disruption by hackers calling themselves the “Lizard Squad,” the same group that hacked the network earlier this year. Microsoft’s XBox Live, which also went down on Christmas Day, was restored Dec. 26.
Quartz obsession interlude
Hanna Kozlowska explains why 2014 was actually a safe year for aviation. “Since the first commercial jet airliner took off in 1949, the rate of crashes has been declining, despite an increase in air travel … And 2014, has had the lowest number of crashes—111 to date—in the jet age.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
The Sony hack is a victory for North Korea. It distracted the world from a damning human rights report.
Africa is headed for another debt crisis. A decade after $100 billion in debt was forgiven, some countries are at risk again.
Playing organized sports stifles children. Playing sports informally, however, makes them more creative.
South Korean plastic surgery is an assembly line. The clock is ticking when surgeons have patients under the knife.
China is the world’s new bank. Crisis-hit countries will soon call Beijing instead of Washington.
Archeologists discovered a 6,000-year-old temple. It is one of the oldest “mega-structures” in human history.
Winston Churchill considered converting to Islam. His future sister-in-law advised him to curb his enthusiasm.
There’s an Airbnb for Airbnb. Potential hosts can find somewhere to stay while renting out their apartments.
Erdogan believes Turkey has the world’s freest press. He made that claim while promising to jail more journalists.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, mega-structure discoveries, and Churchillian conversion tales to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.