STAR WARS

Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Obama’s gun control, stock market calm, 19th-century Tinder

What to watch for today

Barack Obama talks about new gun control measures. The US president plans to require all gun sellers to be licensed, as well as increase spending on gun safety research and mental health care, according to proposals published online. Republicans have already vowed to undo the executive order.

Euro zone inflation data. Consumer prices are expected to have risen by 0.4% in December from a year earlier. That would be better than November’s 0.2% increase, but still well below the European Central Bank’s target of around 2%.

US auto sales break a record. Sales in 2015 are expected to beat the previous record of 17.4 million cars and trucks, set in 2000, once the December figures come in. Sales have been boosted by lower gas prices, more credit, and a stronger job market.

Bernie Sanders outlines his Wall Street reform plan. The Democratic presidential hopeful, and main challenger to Hillary Clinton, will give a “major address” on financial policy. The Clinton camp has already launched an attack on Sanders’ proposals.

While you were sleeping

China’s stock markets calmed down. The Shanghai Composite Index recovered after an initial fall of around 3% in morning trading while major indices in South Korea and Japan rose slightly. Yesterday China tried to stabilize its markets by injecting yet more cash into its banking system.

The US sued Volkswagen for $90 billion. Authorities are taking the German automaker to court for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act, three months after it admitted cheating in emissions tests. US prosecutors are also investigating VW for criminal fraud.

A Chinese property company bought a major US movie company. Dalian Wanda has agreed to buy Legendary Entertainment, the production company behind The Dark Knight and other US blockbusters, according to Reuters. Wanda, which has been snapping up sports and entertainment assets, valued Legendary at up to $4 billion.

Activision Blizzard bought into e-gaming. The computer game maker behind Guitar Hero agreed to pay an undisclosed sum for Major League Gaming, a pioneer in online gaming tournaments. The deal is part of an industry rush to invest in the rising popularity of streaming online games.

Turkey urged calm in the Saudi-Iran row. Numan Kurtulmus, deputy prime minister, criticized attacks on missions in Iran as well as Saudi Arabia’s use of capital punishment.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips on why everything is terrible in 2016. “A key gauge of Chinese manufacturing continued to show the industrial sector contracting, the 10th straight month of shrinkage. But perhaps more troubling, in the US, an important measure of manufacturing activity stayed in negative territory for the second straight month, adding evidence to the idea that the US industrial sector is weakening.” Read more here.

Market haiku

Big economies,
Quiet factories, down markets
A bleak new year starts

Matters of debate

NASA has a secret mission on Mars. The search for aliens could reveal surprising clues to our own existence.

Nigeria’s government is winning the battle against Boko Haram. But its misconceptions over the group’s goals means it’s losing the war.

Vacations with toddlers are incredibly boring. Parents, unlike their childless friends, dread weekends, vacations, and days off.

Surprising discoveries

The 19th century had an ink-and-paper version of Tinder. Americans used cheeky joke cards to flirt.

Mark Zuckerberg wants to build his own AI butler/nanny. It’s part of the Facebook CEO’s annual goal-setting tradition.

Meet the man with the world record for most valid credit cards. Perhaps not coincidentally, he’s also the owner of the world’s longest wallet.

A Nigerian comics startup is creating African superheroes. Characters include Guardian Prime, a fashion designer with extraordinary strength.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, wallet extensions, and AI butlers to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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