Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Liberia releases preliminary results for its presidential election. They were expected yesterday but delayed until today. Unofficial results suggest senator George Weah, a former soccer star, is in the lead, but opponent Joseph Boakai, currently vice president, says the contest is still too close to call. Either way the result will be the first democratic transfer of power in over 70 years.
Egypt announces its interest rate decision. The central bank is expected to keep rates on hold in its monetary policy meeting today, as inflation has eased but remains in the double digits. Inflation climbed steadily after Egypt floated its currency in November 2016, but it fell for the fourth month in November.
China rolls out visa waivers for 53 countries. Staring today Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei will allow visitors from over 50 countries (including the US and Schengen area member states) to stay for six days without obtaining a visa, extending its previous visa-free visiting period of 72 hours. The move is aimed at facilitating business trips and tourism.
While you were sleeping
An explosion in St. Petersburg injured 10 people. A device found inside a supermarket in the Russian city contained 200 g (7 oz) of TNT, according to state news. In April, a suicide bomber killed 14 in the city’s metro, after ISIL called for attacks on Russia following its intervention in Syria against jihadists.
South Korea said it will impose new curbs on cryptocurrency trading. Regulators will be able to close virtual coin exchanges if needed, and the opening of anonymous cryptocurrency accounts will be banned, the government announced. That followed a statement earlier this month that it will consider a capital gains tax on cryptocurrency trading.
Israel passed a controversial law muzzling the police. It prevents police from announcing whether they’ve found enough evidence for an indictment before prosecutors decide whether to press charges. With prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu a suspect in two cases, political opponents charge the law is designed to reduce public anger over the investigations.
Japan reported strong economic numbers for November. Retail sales, helped by rising wages and a tightening labor market, were up 2.2% from a year ago, compared to expectations of 1.2%. Industrial output also beat estimates, thanks in part to memory chips and the equipment used to make semiconductors.
Quartz obsession interlude
Lianna Brinded on the most important New Year’s resolution. ”Every year around January, the world pivots towards how we can all achieve our usual New Year’s resolutions of wanting to lose weight, get more fit, or stopping smoking. While all those pledges contribute to a healthier lifestyle, there is often one area that gets forgotten—sleep.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Chipotle CEO is the toughest job in restaurants. The eatery’s next leader must stage a much-needed turnaround while his or her predecessor looks on.
The 2018 Winter Olympics are already tainted. Letting Russian athletes compete under a “neutral flag” is a non-punishment (paywall) that sends a weak message.
The US culture war is being won by corporations. In legislative terms they’ve claimed the biggest victories (paywall), including regulatory rollbacks and substantial tax cuts.
An Indian state’s new capitol will look a lot like a giant idli maker. It’s unclear whether the designers meant to conjure the savory rice cakes.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will use facial recognition for athletes. A new system will handle entry for 400,000 competitors, officials, and reporters.
A monkey’s funeral was attended by 500 people. Its owner posted an invitation to the service in an online obituary (paywall).
A Chinese mall erected a massive Trump-inspired dog statue at its entrance. #TrumpDog features the US president’s hairdo and golden eyebrows.
Daniel Day-Lewis made a Balenciaga dress from scratch. To prepare for his role in Phantom Thread, the actor learned to sketch, drape, and sew like a fashion designer.
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