Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Shoppers take advantage of Boxing Day sales. Over 50% of UK shoppers are expected to spend more on Dec. 26 than they did on Black Friday this year. Boxing Day is also “celebrated” as a shopping holiday in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Liberia holds its presidential run-off election. Voters must choose between current VP Joseph Boakai or senator George Weah, a former soccer star who began his career in politics with a presidential bid in 2005. Boakai has served as vice president for 12 years.
Kwanzaa begins. The weeklong celebration of African culture kicks off Tuesday with the lighting of the Kinara to mark the first of seven principles: umoja, or unity. An estimated 30 million people celebrate Kwanzaa each year in the US and other nations of the African diaspora in North and South America.
Over the holiday weekend
World leaders delivered their annual Christmas messages. Pope Francis compared the challenges Joseph and Mary faced on their journey to Bethlehem to the risks migrants face today. Queen Elizabeth’s address praised survivors of the Manchester and London terrorist attacks for their “extraordinary bravery and resilience.” In the US, lawmakers followed a day of political antagonism with one full of positivity.
North Korea fought back against UN sanctions. On Friday, the UN security council unanimously approved sanctions to expel thousands of North Koreans working abroad, and to block fuel imports and tighten shipping restrictions to the country. Calling the UN’s actions an “act of war,” North Korea on Sunday threatened all 15 security council members (paywall) with military action.
Typhoon Tembin killed at least 230 in the Philippines. An additional 160 people are missing after the storm triggered landslides across the southern region. Tembin, which is bound for Vietnam, has weakened to a tropical storm, but nonetheless prompted the country to evacuate over 70,000 residents.
Russia barred Alexei Navalny from running for president. One day after accepting the opposition party leader’s candidacy nomination, the Central Election Commission voted unanimously to reject Navalny’s election paperwork, citing his criminal record. Navalny had a 2014 fraud conviction overturned last year but was found guilty in a retrial, sparking criticism from human rights groups.
Bitcoin continued to tumble. The cryptocurrency closed at $13,850 on Monday—a 2.7% drop from Friday’s closing value, though still up from its low point that day, $11,000. Bitcoin’s volatility has caused three exchanges to suspend trading.
Quartz obsession interlude
Elijah Wolfson on the implications of Elon Musk’s record-setting battery in Australia passing its first real-world tests. “Almost all grids have a backup power source contracted to sit dormant during periods of low-energy need, and kick into gear when needed. In most cases, these backups are fossil-fuel ‘peaking power plants’—fossil fuels remain the most reliable way to provide energy in emergencies. The success of Tesla’s battery system, which is charged by wind power, could be seen as a proof-of-concept that a renewable-plus-battery-storage system could replace the need for backup fossil-fuel plants.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
There’s a right and wrong way to re-gift unwanted Christmas presents. You can stop holding on to things you don’t want out of guilt—as long as you follow a few etiquette rules.
Smartphones can be a force for good during family time. Bonding over screen time may help teens and senior adults connect.
Video games overdosing is a mental health disorder. New Scientist reports (paywall) that the World Health Organization plans to include “gaming disorder” in its disease diagnostic manual in 2018.
You can buy a 99-can case of beer in Canada. If you were planning on taking a trip to Quebec, now’s the time, because this édition limitée of Pabst Blue Ribbon won’t be around forever.
Ben Franklin invented the blinded study and discovered the nocebo effect. His 18th-century trick for identifying pseudoscience still works today.
Europe’s economy had its best year in a decade. Fallout from Brexit, election drama, and Italy’s oldest bank failing didn’t get in the way of 2017’s #euroboom.
Most people lean right when they kiss. New research from around the globe shows it’s an innate human tendency, and not something learned from movies.
Toshiba created a radiation-shielded selfie to investigate Fukushima. A camera attached to a 13 meter telescoping selfie stick will examine damage in a melted nuclear reactor core.
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