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 today 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 (paywall) 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 today with the lighting of a candle to mark umoja, or unity, the first of seven principles. 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
North Korea fought back against UN sanctions. On Sunday it threatened all 15 members (paywall) of the UN Security Council, which a few days earlier unanimously approved measures to drastically reduce fuel supplies, tighten shipping restrictions, and expel North Koreans working abroad. Pyongyang called the resolution an “act of war.”
Typhoon Tembin killed at least 230 in the Philippines. Scores are still missing, with rescue workers trying to reach remote areas hit by floods and landslides caused by the typhoon. Though it’s weakened to a tropical storm, Tembin is also expected to cause damage today in Vietnam, where authorities have moved over 70,000 people from low-lying areas.
Russia barred Alexei Navalny from running for president. Authorities rejected the opposition leader’s election paperwork, citing his criminal record. Though a fraud conviction against him was overturned, he was found guilty in a retrial, sparking criticism from human rights groups contending the charges were politically motivated. He was considered the only serious contender to Vladimir Putin.
Peruvians marched against a presidential pardon. They called upon president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski to step down after he issued a pardon for former authoritarian leader Alberto Fujimori. Three lawmakers from the ruling party resigned in protest, as did the deputy human rights minister.
World leaders delivered their Christmas messages. Pope Francis compared the challenges Joseph and Mary faced on their journey to Bethlehem to the risks migrants face today. Queen Elizabeth praised survivors of the UK terrorist attacks for their “extraordinary bravery and resilience.” In the US, lawmakers refrained from political antagonism for a day of positivity.
Quartz obsession interlude
Elijah Wolfson on Tesla’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 keeping unwanted things 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-game addiction is a mental health disorder. 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 Quebec. But the 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 stick to investigate Fukushima. A camera attached to a telescoping pole extending 13 m (43 ft) will examine damage in a melted nuclear reactor core.
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