Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today and over the weekend
South Africa’s ruling party picks a new leader. The African National Congress will hold an election this weekend to replace Jacob Zuma. The winner will likely emerge as the country’s next president after the 2019 elections. One of the country’s richest men, deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, once a possible heir to Nelson Mandela, is a strong contender (paywall).
India’s Supreme Court rules on ID numbers. The high court will decide today whether to grant an interim stay on government directives to make the 12-digit Aadhaar number, which is tied to biometric information, mandatory for various welfare programs and services. The government says widespread adoption is necessary for national security and to end corruption, while critics say it infringes on privacy.
Russia resumes civilian flights to Egypt. Egypt’s aviation minister will travel to Russia to sign protocol agreements as early as today, resuming flights suspended in 2015 after militants bombed a Russian passenger plane, killing 224 people. Leaders also met in Cairo this week to sign a deal for a nuclear power plant as part of growing bilateral cooperation.
While you were sleeping
Marco Rubio came out against the Republican tax bill in the US. The Republican senator said he would oppose the bill unless it expanded a child tax credit to millions of lower-income families. Mike Lee, a GOP senator who partnered with Rubio on the issue, said he is also undecided on the bill, making its passage next week uncertain.
An Australian report pushed for laws forcing religious leaders to report child abuse. The 17-volume document from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse is based on a five-year investigation and details tens of thousands of child victims. Researchers heard many accounts alleging abuse cover-ups in the Australian Catholic Church.
China’s ongoing work in the South China Sea came into focus. For the year, it’s built infrastructure covering 72 acres (28 hectares) in the Spratly and Paracel islands, according to the Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, which drew on new satellite imagery. “They are continuing all the construction they want,” said director Greg Poling.
Japan and South Korea began testing blockchain payments. A group of banks started trying out a system developed by US developer Ripple, with the aim of achieving same-day international funds transfers while cutting costs by nearly 30% (paywall). The cross-border trials will run through January, with the system possibly going live in the spring.
Quartz obsession interlude
Lily Kuo on how China is training the next generation of African elites. “In the 1970s, China actively tried to export its communist revolution to Africa, one of Beijing’s few diplomatic engagements at the time. Now, Beijing is promoting a more subtle movement: support for China and and its model of development. Instead of relying on Chinese emissaries in African countries, Beijing is bringing thousands of African leaders, bureaucrats, students, and businesspeople to China.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Sex toys make a great holiday gift. They’re a healthy way to bring romance into the season, and plenty of incognito options keep gift-unwrapping embarrassment to a minimum.
Nobody wants to work in a “fast-paced environment.” The clichéd job description suggests a culture that sacrifices quality for speed.
Disney’s Fox acquisition is all about Netflix. It is locking up content for the streaming service it hopes will poach some of Netflix’s 100 million subscribers.
A North Korean defector got free Choco Pies for life. Oh Chung-sung, who was shot five times, requested the treat—which symbolizes affluence where he’s from—right after regaining consciousness.
Monorails are making a comeback. They’re a cheap transportation option for dense cities, and track production is set to double or triple in Asia and Latin America.
Wine glasses are almost seven times bigger than they were 300 years ago. In the 1700s, they were not much bigger than a shot glass.
Tolls hit $40 in Washington, DC last week. The price lasted for only six minutes but spooked commuters to reroute or carpool, as the toll was designed to do.
The Simpsons predicted its own takeover by Disney nearly 20 years ago. A 1998 episode joked that 20th Century Fox had fallen under the umbrella of Disney.
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