China’s landslide, Spain’s limbo, Spotify’s magic playlists

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What to watch for today

China tries to woo South Korea. The two nations will discuss the disputed Yellow Sea in negotiations they agreed to last year. China is expected to go easy on South Korea, and use that as leverage in their ongoing fight over the South China Sea.

Lift-off for SpaceX—possibly. Elon Musk’s company prepares to launch another rocket carrying commercial satellites, after its last mission in June ended in spectacular flames. Any hiccups could delay SpaceX’s next three missions, all scheduled for this week. Take-off is expected around 9:30am in China (8:30pm EST).

Burundi faces the African Union. The AU gave the country, which has seen a surge in violent protests since the summer, until today to allow AU peace-keeping troops in. Burundi has said it will treat foreign troops as an “invasion.”

Mexico goes digital. More than 3 million households will have to buy a digital TV or be left with static on the tube as the nation switches from analog to digital broadcasting—which creates a great business opportunity for pay-TV providers like Dish Network and Televisa.

Turkey may raise rates, too. All eyes will be on the country’s central bank as it holds its last meeting of the year, after it signaled last week that it may follow the US Federal Reserve’s lead in hiking interest rates. Mexico, Chile, and Colombia have already done the same.

While you were sleeping

The China landslide was caused by trash. Local authorities blame Monday’s landslide in booming megacity Shenzhen on a heaping, man-made pile of construction waste, the AP reports. No confirmed deaths so far, but at least 85 people were still missing Monday evening.

Staples’ bid for Office Depot was thwarted. The US Federal Trade Commission rejected the merger of office-equipment rivals, saying such a deal would raise prices for corporate customers—even after Staples offered to sell or end $1.25 billion of its commercial contracts. Staples will contest the FTC’s lawsuit and said it is still willing to negotiate.

A Taliban attack in Afghanistan killed six US soldiers. A suicide bomber drove a motorcycle into a NATO-Afghan patrol, in the deadliest attack on international troops since August. The attack occurred as the Taliban was reported to be gaining territory in the southern Helmand province.

Libor’s “Rain Man” will get out sooner. Tom Hayes, the former derivatives trader jailed in Britain as the alleged mastermind of the Libor rate-rigging scandal, had his sentence cut from 14 years to 11 after it was deemed too harsh. Hayes was dubbed “Rain Man“ for his mild case of Asperger’s.

Spain’s politics remained in limbo. The stock market fell after an election that left Spain’s parliament with four main parties and no easy options for a coalition. The Socialists have already ruled out the simplest option—joining forces with the right-wing PP. The PP’s leader, Mariano Rajoy, the incumbent prime minister, is trying to form a government.

Quartz obsession interlude

Adam Pasick on the magic of Spotify’s curated playlists. “The quality of Discover Weekly’s picks is so consistently good, it’s a bit uncanny. After I received several excellent playlists in a row, I couldn’t stop thinking about how Spotify had figured me out, along with 75 million other people. Answering that question led me down the rabbit hole of how the system works in the first place—and how an algorithm can delve into the deeply subjective realm of music to predict the songs that will make my pulse race and my head nod.” Read more here.

Market haiku

A lot of bouncing
Everyone’s avoiding
Oil on the way down

Matters of debate

The Democratic party is out of touch with young black voters. Its candidates will need more than outdated rhetoric to court them.

2016 will be a risky year for Russia. The economic measures that stabilized the country won’t hold up if oil prices keep falling.

Preschool is crushing American kids. “School readiness” isn’t helping young children succeed in the long run.

Surprising discoveries

Planes hit more turtles than drones. Maybe the Federal Aviation Administration should be banning turtles instead?

Pollution isn’t just bad for your health. Childhood exposure to air pollution is also linked to a decrease in salary later on in life.

Nutella will personalize a jar with your name. Unless your name is Isis.

Death Stars are a waste of time. There are much better ways to take over a galaxy.

Now you can buy cyberbullying insurance. Protect yourself and your loved ones from online trolls.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, personalized Nutella jars, and galactic strategies to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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