Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
A US-Chinese blockbuster—maybe—arrives in theaters. The $150 million film Great Wall is the biggest test so far (paywall) of whether Hollywood can conquer the Chinese market. Matt Damon stars as a European mercenary who fights alongside Chinese soldiers against an army of monsters.
The US Commerce Department reports housing starts. Analysts expect construction of new buildings in November to hit 1.23 million units, a 6.8% drop from October.
Britain’s chancellor takes his Brexit reassurance tour to South Korea. After meetings in South Africa and Japan—where he denied being a poster boy for a “soft” Brexit—Philip Hammond arrives in Seoul in an attempt to salvage the UK’s privileged access to South Korean markets.
While you were sleeping
Obama vowed to “take action” in response to Russia’s DNC hack. In an interview with NPR, the president said some measures would be “explicit and publicized,” though he did not elaborate. He noted the hacks had “some impact” on the election’s outcome but stopped short of endorsing the CIA’s view Russia meant to help Trump.
Trump named his ambassador to Israel. The president-elect nominated David Friedman, an attorney and campaign advisor to Trump, to oversee US relations with the Jewish state. Friedman has expressed support for moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and opposed a ban on construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
China said it carried out a military drill near Korea. State media reported the military completed its first-ever drill using an aircraft carrier on Thursday in the Bohai Sea, located along northeastern China. It comes amid political tensions over the South China Sea and Taiwan.
Facebook unveiled new tools to crack down on fake news. Journalists from various organizations can now tag stories as “disputed by 3rd party fact-checkers,” and users can flag content as a “fake news story.” The company’s algorithm has also been tweaked, and stories deemed fake can’t appear as paid ads.
General Motors unveiled plans for a driverless car factory. A Michigan plant that builds the electric Chevy Bolt will begin making driverless versions of the vehicle next year. CEO Mary Barra said the company will immediately begin testing the car on public roads in the state.
Quartz obsession interlude
Nikhil Sonnad on how different parts of the United States use the English language. ”A geographic analysis of 100,000 commonly used words, culled from billions of tweets, shows huge regional variations in cuisine, slang, and even profanity. An interactive tool allows users to query any word they like.” Read more here.
Quartz haiku interlude
Twenty K’s in sight
and champagne’s on ice. Spare a
thought for bond holders.
Matters of debate
The UN must act now to ban killer robots. Lethal autonomous weapons, the subject of a meeting in Geneva this week, could lead to a dystopian future.
If ignorance is bliss, India is paradise. Indians are the most uninformed people on the planet, according to a far-reaching survey of public perceptions.
Hoarding is a sign of a healthy economy. The boom in self-storage units suggests Americans are buying more than ever.
Beer is saving lives in Russia. The switch from vodka is boosting male life spans.
Trump’s cabinet picks have more money than a third of all Americans combined. The most affluent cabinet ever has $9.5 billion in total wealth.
Trump might have snubbed Twitter at his tech gathering because of an emoji. Unnamed sources at the company say it was because CEO Jack Dorsey refused to make a #CrookedHillary emoji.
There’s a medieval city beneath the suburbs of St. Louis. A settlement larger than Paris was constructed and abandoned in the Mississippi River floodplain.
Some viruses may go easy on women. It helps them spread more quickly via breastfeeding and childbirth.
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