What to watch for today
Second round of French local elections wraps up. In the first round of the regional elections, held earlier this month, the far-right Front National made major gains following the Paris terrorist attacks. Early exit polls suggest Marine Le Pen’s party was not as successful in the second round.
China talks economic cooperation with Eurasian nations. President Xi Jinping is hosting the 14th Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting, which will be attended by Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The countries are expected to discuss ways to expand industrial cooperation and security links.
Angela Merkel defends her refugee policy. The German chancellor has faced strong criticism from within her party for accepting so many refugees, and the issue is expected to be debated and voted on at a two-day Christian Democratic Union party congress in Karlsruhe. Some have said Merkel is, in effect, “forcing a ‘vote of confidence.’”
European Union foreign ministers discuss terrorism. Attempts to block arms trafficking and international terrorist financing are up for discussion, as are sanctions on Russia, the ongoing conflict in Iraq and Syria, and free trade with Syria, Iraq, and Libya.
‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ premieres in Hollywood. The hugely hyped film, set 30 years after ’Episode VI: Return of the Jedi,’ finally starts hitting theaters.
Over the weekend
A groundbreaking climate deal was achieved. After months of preparation and weeks of negotiation, world leaders reached a climate-change deal at this year’s Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris. It is the most ambitious international agreement ever to face up to the threat of global warming.
Tensions between Russia and Turkey escalated. Russia says its destroyer Smetlivy was forced to fire small arms as a warning at an unidentified Turkish fishing vessel in the Aegean Sea, after the boat failed to respond to warnings. The incident comes amid high tensions between the countries after Turkey shot down a Russian military plane last month, and more broadly, over the conflict in Syria.
Ted Cruz soared in the polls. The Texas Senator and hopeful for the Republican US presidential nomination leaped 21 percentage points in Iowa, the first state to vote to determine nominees. Cruz lead Donald Trump by 10 points in one poll, and by two in another. Cruz could gain even more in Iowa, being the likely second choice for many voters.
Saudi Arabia elected its first female officials. At least 19 women gained seats in the country’s historic municipal vote. They hailed from all across the country, from small villages to large cities. It’s a small number among the 2,100 seats available, but the vote is still seen as an important step forward for women’s rights in the country.
Anti-government protests in Poland and Brazil. As many as 50,000 people marched in Warsaw on Saturday, protesting against the rule of the right-wing Law and Justice Party and the actions of the country’s president, Andrzej Duda, whom the demonstrators accuse of overreaching his power when appointing judges. In Brazil, smaller crowds gathered calling for the impeachment of president Dilma Rousseff for failing to prevent corruption and an economic recession.
Quartz obsession interlude
Nicholas de Monchaux on the aesthetics of Star Wars and Apple. “The Apple building and the Death Star, with all their closed perfection, reveal a great deal about why today’s world looks and works the way it does. In particular, they point to the conflict and balance between order and openness, between power and the distribution of power, that must be constantly negotiated, and renegotiated, as we craft culture, city, and society at the beginning of the 21st century.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Luke Skywalker was radicalized. Obi Wan targeted Luke for radicalization and taught him to say prayers before committing attacks. Yoda, meanwhile, taught Luke the rules of “Jedi fundamentalism and guerilla warfare.”
Trump has already hurt the US’s global reputation. He’s been dominating political debates for months, and the world will not soon forget that so many Americans were ready to support an anti-immigrant businessman as a presidential candidate. The damage he’s done may be harder to undo than we expect.
Your nativity scene is nothing but a lie. The donkey, three kings, and sheep are all conjecture. And, most importantly, Jesus and his parents were not blonde or Caucasian.
Slouching over our iPhones makes us grouchy. Slumped shoulders reflect a miserable emotional state, but bad posture can also cause lower self-esteem and bad moods. And the smaller screen you use, and more you hunch, the more submissive you become.
Liars are more animated when they talk. To spot one, don’t look into their eyes, look at their hands.
A silo filled with sweet potatoes has been burning in North Carolina since the day after Thanksgiving. The yams are carmelizing, and the fire is proving impossible to put out.
The world’s first “droneport” will be in Nevada. Because drones need to dock somewhere, too.
Scientists discovered a tiny star with a giant storm, and it’s beautiful. The storm has been raging for two years, and is larger than Earth.
Australia opened its first hangover clinic. It features an IV drip, oxygen therapy, and a VIP recovery lounge.