What to watch for today
British inflation figures. The Bank of England will likely say that consumer prices rose 0.7% in December, following a 1% gain in November. Inflation already has slipped into negative territory in Europe, and the same is expected for the UK at some point between February and April, according to at least one analyst.
Preliminary Chinese trade data. Exports are expected to come in 6% higher for December than in the previous month, while imports probably fell 6.2%—although some say you shouldn’t trust these data because of the country’s recent history with fake invoicing.
Sri Lanka’s new president hosts an important guest. Pope Francis is going to pay a visit to Maithripala Sirisena, who was sworn in just days ago after defeating the incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa. It’s been two decades since the last papal visit to Sri Lanka, where Catholics make up just 6% of the population.
Chris Christie’s presidential aspirations. The governor of New Jersey, who delivers his annual state of the state address today, could use the occasion to rebuild momentum for a national campaign—that is, if he’s even interested in joining Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney in exploring a bid for the White House in 2016.
Airbus’ annual record. At its yearly press conference, the French commercial aircraft maker will detail just how big of a year 2014 was for the company’s aircraft deliveries. It’s expected to have topped the 626 deliveries reported for 2013, but analysts doubt that the company will have toppled Boeing’s dominance.
While you were sleeping
Interpol put Ukraine’s old president on its wanted list. Viktor Yanukovych was toppled in 2013 in the Euromaidan revolution, and the former leader fled to Russia before the crowds in Kyiv could move in. Now Interpol wants to have a word with him, because it says he embezzled millions of dollars.
Afghanistan’s president finally assembled a cabinet. It’s been more than 100 days since Ashraf Ghani was sworn in, and it’s taken more than twice as long as he promised it would (paywall), but it’s finally happened—25 ministers were named, allowing Ghani to start preparing for next year’s US troop pullout. Parliament still has to approve the appointments, however.
US automakers unveiled the future. At the Detroit Auto Show, Chevy showed off its answer to Elon Musk’s affordable Tesla Model 3—an all-electric vehicle called the Bolt that it intends to sell in 2017 for less than $30,000—as well as a new version of its hybrid, the Volt. At the other end of the green spectrum, Ford showed off the latest version of the GT, its 600-horsepower supercar.
Oil hit another low. After Goldman Sachs cut its outlook on both WTI and Brent to near $40 a barrel within 90 days, crude prices closed below $50, marking a fresh five-and-a-half-year low. Saudi billionaire prince Alwaleed bin Talal has reportedly said that oil will never hit $100 again.
Cuba lived up to its end of the US deal. One of the terms president Barack Obama stipulated before agreeing to open up relations with Cuba was that Cuba free 53 prisoners. According to the Cuban government, the last of them have now been released. Now the US needs to scratch Cuba’s back in return.
The search for the Charlie Hebdo attackers’ accomplice went global. Hayat Boumeddiene, the wife of the man who took hostages in a Jewish supermarket two days after the Charlie Hebdo killings, had more than 500 telephone conversations with the wife of Cherif Kouachi, one of the two brothers who attacked the satirical magazine. Boumeddiene is believed to have escaped into Syria, via Turkey, before the attacks took place.
Quartz obsession interlude
Steve LeVine on the figures who will be making headlines in 2015. “Last year, we learned from Russian president Vladimir Putin that European borders can still be changed by fiat, and from Saudi Arabia we discovered that hitherto mighty OPEC can be crumpled up like a wad of paper and tossed in a bin. Momentum alone ought to signal that 2015 will bring new confusion, fresh surprises, and more shredded history. But while the year will deepen our disorientation, and include horrendous tragedies like last week’s massacre in Paris, the surprises are by-and-large likely to be smaller.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
To beat ISIL, reach out to the Sunni communities that gave it power. And yes, it’s as daunting a task as it sounds.
Google is the new Microsoft. It’s not innovating anymore, and without making some serious acquisitions, it’ll lose its dominant position.
We are the last generation that can do something about climate change. That is UN secretary general’s Ban Ki-moon’s message in an editorial on the UN’s 70th anniversary and the work it still has to do.
China’s scare tactics aren’t working. President Xi Jinping is using many of the methods that were popular during the country’s Cultural Revolution to silence those who disagree with him, and it might eventually lead to a revolt.
Greece isn’t the problem—Europe is. Whether or not the Greek economy remains in the euro zone isn’t as crucial a question as this: When will European economic policies shift toward investment, innovation, and competitiveness (paywall)?
A blood test may help you quit smoking. People metabolize nicotine at different rates; matching a specific treatment to your specific rate is the key to kicking the habit.
Artisanal just jumped the shark. There’s a beer maker in Iceland that is flavoring its brew with smoked whale testicles.
US Central Command has a Pinterest account. It presumably isn’t as prized a target for hackers, who broke into CENTCOM’s Twitter and YouTube accounts yesterday.
A Saudi Arabian cleric banned snowmen. A rare snowstorm has raised a religious question.
You can take flight delays into your own hands (although we wouldn’t recommend it). No one likes to be stuck on the tarmac waiting for takeoff, which is why two gentlemen in China decided to open the emergency exits, forcing the plane to turn around.
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