What to watch for today
China tests longer onshore yuan trading hours. The Chinese Foreign Exchange Trade System will close at 11:30pm instead of 4:30pm local time. The trial, which lasts through Dec. 30, will allow China to overlap with European markets and potentially boost its case for the yuan as a global reserve currency.
India’s parliament closes. It’s the last day of the Indian parliament’s winter session and a number of bills are pending, as prime minister Narendra Modi visits Russian president Vladimir Putin in Moscow. After a standoff last week, the Modi government and its opposition have promised to pass certain measures by today.
London may crack down on Uber. The city’s transport authority wraps up deliberations on a set of rules and restrictions for private-hire vehicles. Uber, naturally, has protested the proposed regulations, saying they would “mean an end” to the ride-hailing service as London knows it.
Turkey’s opposition leaders visit Moscow. Leaders of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish HDP party will meet with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. Relations between Moscow and Ankara have been strained since Turkish forces downed a Russian jet last month.
A ceasefire for the holidays in the Philippines. In honor of holiday celebrations, the nation’s underground Communist Party has ordered guerrillas to hold all attacks through Jan. 3. The Philippine Armed Forces calls the ceasefire “unilateral” and will continue operations.
While you were sleeping
Iraqi forces moved to take back Ramadi. After months of trying, Iraqi government forces moved to wrest control of the city from ISIL, backed by US air strikes. This offensive is reportedly the most successful effort yet, thanks to a change in tactics.
A Russian business tycoon bought an American basketball team. Mikhail Prokhorov’s Onexim Group purchased a 20% stake in the Brooklyn Nets, and a 60% stake in Barclays Stadium, where the team plays. Combined with Prokhorov’s personal ownership of both assets, the mogul now has 100% control of the businesses.
NASA delayed its upcoming Mars mission—by years. The Mars lander InSight, designed to listen for tremors (or “marsquakes”) on the planet, was supposed to launch in March 2016, but its key instrument, a French-made seismometer, has a vacuum leak that technicians can’t fix. The next possible launch date would be after May 2018.
Australia caught three suspected terrorists. Sydney police arrested two young men suspected of involvement in a botched 2014 attack on a naval base and other targets. Border patrol also revealed that on Nov. 15, they detained and subsequently deported a French national who was discovered to be carrying two cans of mace and “extremist” literature.
Kim Dotcom was declared eligible for extradition. New Zealand courts declared the founder of Megaupload, a site widely used for piracy, can be sent to the US for trial. Dotcom is appealing the decision, but if he loses, he will face charges of money laundering, racketeering, and copyright violation.
Quartz obsession interlude
Tim Fernholz on how SpaceX’s reusable rockets could transform the space industry: “SpaceX has already proven itself a real competitor to aerospace giants, offering the cheapest prices to reach low-earth orbit—at about $60 million per launch—thanks to its focus on simple design, cheap materials, and advanced manufacturing techniques. But the ability to reuse their rockets could cut tens of millions, if not more, from that number… it could make hitherto cost-prohibitive schemes a reality, the same way the falling cost of microprocessors opened up new business opportunities.” Read more.
Taking it easy,
Look: Chipotle barely even stirred,
Winding down the year.
Matters of debate
2015 is the year we embraced designer babies. Countries making way for new kinds of gene therapy made the idea of genetically engineered humans acceptable.
Austerity is pushing EU voters to the fringes. Just look at Spain this week, says Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi.
Collaborative work isn’t all that collaborative. Nearly a third of value-added collaborations comes from just 3% to 5% of employees.
Scientists have discovered a glow-in-the-dark shark. They call it the “ninja lanternshark.”
Maintaining your beard can be a career. This man makes a living (video) off his exquisitely groomed facial hair.
London Underground is using “Star Wars” to discourage fare-dodging. In addition to regular penalty fees, violators will be told plot spoilers.
Being a world leader can shorten your life. Expect to lose more than two years if you’re elected the head of a Western country, according to a new study.