What to watch for today
A day of reckoning for Facebook’s Internet.org. It’s the last day to comment on whether India’s government should allow telecoms to charge different rates for data, which would affect Facebook’s plan to provide limited internet access to India’s poor. CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently made his case in a strident op-ed.
The Central African Republic holds a historic election. CAR hopes to reinstate democracy after voting was delayed three days for technical difficulties. That’s a short wait compared to the volatile three-year transition period the country has endured since longtime president François Bozizé was ousted by rebels.
Filipino protesters leave the South China Sea. A group of students, led by a former naval commander, arrived on a contested island on Saturday. The students described their “patriotic” voyage as an act of defiance to protest China’s claim to the South China Sea.
While you were sleeping
The US said its air strikes killed an ISIL militant involved in the Paris attacks. Charaffe al Mouadan had a “direct link” to ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud and “was actively planning additional attacks against the West,” US military officials said. Separately, Belgium arrested two members of “a Muslim biker gang called the Kamikaze Riders” who were allegedly planning a New Year’s Eve attack.
The Islamic State’s sex slave handbook was discovered. The terror group codified the rape of hostages with detailed rules and regulations, according to newly released documents. Sex slaves have been held and sold by ISIL since the early days of its declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria, and the group says slavery is an “inevitable consequence” of its conquests.
A key North Korean diplomat was killed. State media reported that Kim Yan Gon, a veteran DPRK official who was a top negotiator with Seoul, perished in a car accident. Analysts believe that his passing will halt progress on North Korea’s relations with the south.
DuPont cut 1,700 jobs before its Dow merger. The chemical company plans to eliminate nearly one-third of its workforce in its home state of Delaware. There’s more to come: Executives want to shrink its overall workforce of 63,000 by 10% before the convoluted deal is done.
Blackberry exited Pakistan. The smartphone maker says it can no longer protect its customers’ privacy after the government demanded unrestricted access to its servers. Meanwhile, Blackberry’s share of the global smartphone market continues to decline.
Quartz obsession interlude
Alison Griswold on why Airbnb is becoming a real threat to the hotel business in big US cities. “Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky has famously shied away from the term ‘disruption,’ and the hotel industry has also embraced the notion that its core base of business travelers isn’t the same as the people booking vacation jaunts in Airbnb’s housing stock. US-wide, that might still be the case. But the city-level data on Airbnb’s bookings makes that story a lot harder to believe.” Read more here.
Not gangbusters, but something
Green shoots in winter
Matters of debate
Japan’s “comfort women” apology is all about geopolitics. The long-awaited admission comes at a huge moral cost.
New Year’s Eve is a scientifically proven disappointment. Expecting a good time is a surefire way not to have one.
The internet is a toxic garden. Users need to collectively make the soil less hospitable to harassers and trolls.
The most prolific wall-punchers are 15-year-old boys. US teenagers are also punching thermostats, washing machines, and paper-towel dispensers.
Burglars in Denver are stealing snacks and watching anime. The Hot Pockets are gone, but the valuables remain.
A giant squid went swimming in a Japanese marina. Only a few hundred of the tentacled creatures have ever been spotted.
A Filipino priest rode a hoverboard at Christmas Eve mass. He has been punished for his irreverence.
The North Pole will be warmer than parts of Southern California this week. Temperatures will be up to 60℉ higher than normal.