Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Europe’s big banks meet. The Bank of England is expected to keep rates steady after a November raise, but it could give a hint about the pace of hikes next year. Meanwhile the European Central Bank will release its 2020 inflation projection, and president Mario Draghi could indicate how and when the central bank’s stimulus program will end.
Fox and Disney close a deal. Comcast dropped its offer to purchase major parts of 21st Century Fox earlier this week, leaving Disney as the sole bidder. The deal’s details aren’t clear, though analysts estimate that Fox’s assets top $60 billion. Both companies shares rose on the news.
Net neutrality could be repealed. Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai has said the existing regulations, which guarantee that providers treat internet content equally, discourage investment. If the commission votes to repeal, the move would open the way for providers to slow or block specific content.
While you were sleeping
The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a quarter of a point. The US central bank also improved its forecast of economic growth to 2.5% for 2018, up from September’s forecast of 2.1%. The Fed also indicated three rate increases for next year.
Republicans reached an agreement on the final version of the tax bill. The legislation includes a reduced corporate tax rate of 21% from the current rate of 35% and cuts taxes for the nation’s wealthiest families and individuals. Some details are still in flux, but Republicans expect to have the legislation approved by Congress by next week.
Muslim leaders asked for the recognition of East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital. More than 50 prominent leaders made the statement during a summit in Istanbul and condemned the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Google plans an AI research center in China. The center will be the first of its kind in Asia, and is expected to attract local talent. China still bans Google’s search engine and apps in its market, but the government has expressed support for AI research and development.
The EU parliament voted against regulating kebabs. Street vendors will still be able to use phosphates—which keep meat juicy but raise health concerns in some critics—in frozen meat. In the United Kingdom alone, 1.3 million kebabs are sold daily, and the industry employs upwards of 200,000 people across the EU.
Quartz obsession interlude
Lynsey Chutel on the collapse of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s textile industry. “The Chinese entry was subtle. At first they only supplied the bales of plain cotton fabric. Then printed fabric began to arrive, the quality seeming to improve with every run until they were able to mimic the Congolese designs. Soon, it required a meticulous eye to notice the difference.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Regulating the internet could be a good thing. Economic arguments for relaxing net neutrality say that it could improve the telecom market.
The US Christmas tree shortage could last for years. Growers didn’t plant enough trees during the recession, and the effects are just beginning 10 years later.
AI is destroying our free will. Replacing human-curated judgement with data-backed judgement narrows our perspective in a way that chokes our social and economic choices.
London is waging genetic warfare on its rats. Researchers are slowly killing off the species by eliminating X chromosomes and ending the birth of females.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is being sent to space. Astronauts at the International Space Station are getting their own digital copy of the space opera.
German Amazon sells Nazi-style Legos. One German father’s Change.org petition to stop their sale has garnered nearly 1,500 signatures.
A Twitter bot gives you a new latke recipe every hour. Using data from countless recipes, it will generate new formulas over the duration of Hanukkah.
A volcanic region of Ethiopia gives us clues about life on Mars. The Danakil Depression is an inhospitable region where toxic gases saturate the air.
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