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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—SpaceX makes history, Europe’s “million migrants,” runway turtles

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

Iraqi troops attempt to retake Ramadi from ISIL. Government forces and militia fighters have advanced to the center of the Islamic State-held city situated just 90km (55 miles) from Baghdad. They are expected to reach the city’s government offices later today.

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 its 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. The central bank, meeting for the final time this year, has already signaled 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

“One million” migrants have entered Europe this year. The milestone represents a four-fold increase in the number of arrivals compared with 2014, according to data from the International Organization for Migration—and almost half are from Syria. More than 3,500 either drowned or went missing on their journey.

SpaceX successfully landed a reusable rocket. The Elon Musk-led company delivered 11 communications satellites into orbit and then landed its reusable Falcon 9, making history in the process. That’s a great boost for SpaceX; perfecting the reusable rocket is key to profitability.

A prominent Chinese human rights lawyer avoided jail. A Beijing court handed Pu Zhiqiang a three-year suspended jail sentence for tweeting criticism of the government. The relatively light touch (many expected up to eight years in jail) may signal the government’s eagerness to avoid further bad press.

Ford is in talks to build Google’s self-driving car. The US auto manufacturer is discussing the creation of a joint venture with the internet giant, according to Yahoo Autos. A deal, should one be reached, could be announced as early as January 2016.

FastJet lowered its revenue forecasts. Income for 2015 and next year are both likely to be lower than expected (paywall), the African budget airline said. It blamed currency swings and “challenging market conditions.”

Christmas failed to save Switzerland’s luxury watch market. Exports fell by 5.6% in November from a year earlier, dipping to less than $2 billion in value for the first time in four years. A 28% decline in shipments to Hong Kong, the industry’s biggest market, led the fall.

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.

Matters of debate

Family planning will help reign in climate change. Having fewer children will protect the planet’s natural resources.

The US Democratic party is out of touch with young black voters. Its candidates will need more than outdated rhetoric to win them over (paywall).

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 US Federal Aviation Administration should be banning turtles instead?

Japan unveiled its 2020 Olympic stadium, for a second time. The new structure is cheaper than the original winner—and less offensive to elderly Japanese architects.

Pollution isn’t just bad for your health. Childhood exposure to air pollution is also linked to lower salaries later on.

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

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

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