Beijing’s “negative list,” stock market slides, a new Spotify record

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What to watch for today

Korea’s symbolic railway breaks ground. More than 100 people from North and South Korea will attend Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony for a border-crossing railway, in another show of unification between the nations. The pledge to modernize inter-Korean transit also has support from the UN Security Council, which waived related sanctions.

Japan leaves the IWC. The Japanese government is expected to abandon the International Whaling Commission on Wednesday, cementing plans to resume commercial whaling and open up its waters to hunting. No immediate consequences for Japan are expected, and the move may embolden other pro-whaling nations to follow suit.

Boxing Day sales begin. Just as Christmas-present shopping wraps up, Boxing Day sales begin in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, and other countries that celebrate this originally British holiday. The day has been commemorated since medieval times, though its precise origins are a bit murky. Historians believe it began as a holiday for servants who worked on Christmas. Now, it’s predominantly a day off spent watching sports or shopping.

Indian bank employees will go on strike. For the second time in a week, employees from nine Indian banking unions are striking on Dec. 26 to protest a proposed merger between Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank with Bank of Baroda. Private sector banks will be open but there won’t be any services available at the public institutions.

Over the holiday

Markets closed out their worst weekly selloff since 2008. The Dow Jones finished Christmas Eve down 2.9%, with America’s partial government shutdown underscoring the doom-and-gloom market rout. Asian markets reacted poorly to the uncertainty, with Japan’s Nikkei down 5% and China’s SSE Composite Index down 2% at close on Tuesday.

Greg Kelly walked free after a month under arrest in Tokyo. Prosecutors let the former Nissan director out of custody after a district court approved his 70 million yen ($640,000) bail payment. Kelly had been detained since Nov. 19 for his alleged role in financial fraud, but former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn remains under lock and key.

The death toll in Indonesia passed 400. Rescue efforts are underway following the devastating tsunami that on Sunday crashed into towns on the coasts of the Sumatra and Java islands. As of Tuesday, official tallies count 429 dead, with about 150 still missing, and some 16,000 people displaced.

Beijing published a “negative list” to show its willingness for open markets. The Chinese government released a list of 151 business sectors in which investors (domestic and foreign) are either prohibited or significantly restricted. The much-anticipated document is meant to assure all investors that they’re working on a level playing field—that Beijing isn’t forcing restrictions on some investors in a given sector, while letting others operate freely.

Thailand approved medical marijuana. Thailand’s parliament voted on Dec. 25 to amend its 1979 Narcotic Act in a televised parliamentary session, to approve marijuana for medical use and research, an unusual move in a region with some of the world’s strictest drug laws. “This is a New Year’s gift from the National Legislative Assembly to the government and the Thai people,” said Somchai Sawangkarn, chairman of the drafting committee.

Matters of debate

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Video games can be created to make better humans. Designer Jenova Chen believes we can become more sensitive by playing smarter video games, like the ones he creates.

Toys played a big part in human evolution. Our sense of play (subscription) probably had a major role in shaping mankind’s most important tools and most useful inventions.

Nothing is a more American Christmas tradition than Chinese food. Chinese restaurants have survived decades of suspicion and oppression (subscription) to become an unshakable part of the modern US holiday fabric.

Surprising discoveries

Science can save billions of male chickens destined for terrible deaths. Every year, the egg industry kills about 4-6 billion male chicks just because they don’t grow fast enough to raise for meat and produce no eggs. Now scientists believe they can end that practice by determining a chick’s sex before it hatches.

Mariah Carey broke Spotify’s single-day streaming record. “All I Want for Christmas Is You” was streamed nearly 11 million times on Christmas Eve, but the platform’s incredibly stingy payout makes it far less impressive.

The International Space Station’s errant leak was an inside job. Russian cosmonaut Sergei Prokopyev said the mysterious 2-millimeter hole that caused a relatively mild pressure drop was drilled from inside the satellite.

An artist’s unusual response to rejections. The painter Robert Cenedella sued five major New York museums under antitrust law, claiming they are part of an international conspiracy to stifle competition in the art market by promoting the work of a chosen few artists.

Pompeii horse was found still wearing its harness. The remains of a saddled horse were just found at the Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii. Archaeologists posit that the horse was ready to help rescue Pompeiians fleeing the AD 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius that buried the town in ashes when it was killed.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, better Christmas songs, and compassionate video games to Join the next chapter of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written by McKinley Noble and Ephrat Livni and edited by Elijah Wolfson.