As the year comes to an end, we’re taking stock of everything we learned in 2015, from the prosaic to the profound. We’re inviting Quartz readers to answer this question: What do you know now that you didn’t know a year ago?
Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org, and some replies will be edited and published. Thanks!
What to watch for today
The most anticipated decision of the year. US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen will announce whether, as expected, the central bank will raise its benchmark interest rate for the first time in nearly a decade. Quartz has you covered with absolutely everything you need to understand the Fed’s decision.
GE and Valeant predict the future. Both companies present their outlook for next year. 2015 was a momentous year for GE, which shed its financial unit and focused on its core industrial business. Valeant’s future in the pharma industry is brightening ever so slightly, with a new distribution deal boosting its battered shares.
A US property market snapshot. The number of housing starts is expected to increase in November to 1.14 million, from 1.06 million in October. Separately, the Mortgage Bankers Association will release its home loan applications index.
While you were sleeping
US Republican candidates thrashed it out. At their latest debate, fault lines appeared between presidential hopefuls over how to fight ISIL—some favored more surveillance while others wanted to protect civil liberties. Donald Trump received boos when he suggested “closing” the internet to stop terrorist recruiters.
The US neared an end to its oil export ban. Republicans announced a deal that would lift the 40-year-old ban on exporting oil in return for environmental measures sought by Democrats (paywall). But Democrats haven’t agreed on the final wording of the bill; Congress is expected to vote on the deal tomorrow.
China defended its control of the internet. President Xi Jinping told a conference in China that the country has the right to control the internet within its borders as it sees fit. The “international” conference was largely shunned by Western governments.
A rebel group declared its own state in the Central African Republic. Noureddine Adam, leader of a Seleka rebels faction, declared an independent state after rejecting a national election due later this month. Adam and his supporters were previously accused of intimidating voters in the run-up to the polls.
Bright spots for the euro zone economy. Markit’s preliminary purchasing manager’s index for the economic bloc showed a strong rise in hiring in December, based on a healthy increase in orders. That suggests the euro zone may finally shake off its economic malaise in 2016.
A heavy storm battered Sydney. Winds of up to 130 miles per hour (215 km/h) caused flight cancellations and knocked out power for around 4,000 residents. No deaths have been reported so far, and the storm has begun moving offshore.
Quartz obsession interlude
Gwynn Guilford on the facts and fiction of vengeful whales: “Creatures that make their homes in the deep sea, sperm whales have lousy vision and use sound to visualize the objects around them. In a moment of panic, a whale might not notice a whaleship, and therefore might simply bang into it accidentally.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
We should start eating breakfast cereal again. High levels of fiber lower the risk of cancer and Type 2 diabetes.
China has a nasty surprise in store for Latin America. Demand for commodities will plummet in the coming decades.
US drone regulations are insane. Toy helicopters are meticulously logged, but assault rifles are not.
The world’s oldest woman has four slices of bacon a day. Susannah Mushatt Jones, 116, eats it “every morning, with gusto.”
Someone visualized the average American’s day. You can watch what the typical person is doing at any given minute.
Yahoo allegedly threw a $7 million party. The company took a break from its troubles with a lavish Great Gatsby-themed holiday bash.
Australian sheepdogs are protecting small penguins from foxes. The story has been made into a hit movie.