#Obama takes on #Russia, a ceasefire in #Syria, #Netflix tricks kids

Good morning, Quartz readers!


Syria tries another ceasefire. The Syrian government and rebel groups agreed on a yet another nationwide ceasefire to begin at midnight local time. Under the terms of the deal, peace talks will be held in Kazakhstan next month, though a date hasn’t been announced. Monitors have already reported violations in some areas—and if the truce breaks like the previous ones, plans for peace talks will falter.

India’s first transgender school opens. The Sahaj International School in Kochi, Kerala, will initially serve 10 transgender students, and be run by six transgender teachers and administrators, working with the TransIndia Foundation. After nearly 50 building owners refused to house the institute, it finally secured a lease from a Christian organization.

World leaders bid 2016 adieu. French president Francois Hollande and German chancellor Angela Merkel will make televised speechesto close out the year; the latter is expected to discuss her policy agenda for 2017. On New Year’s Eve, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi will address the nation, in part about the impact of his controversial 50-day demonetization scheme. While US president Barack Obama has no plans for an end-of-year speech, he is expected to make an end-of-presidency speech on Jan. 10, 2017.


The US fired back at Russia over election hacking. The Obama administration ejected 35 Russian intelligence operatives from US soil, expanded sanctions, and published declassified information on Russia’s cyber-meddling in the US presidential election. A Russian presidential spokesperson vowed retaliation, saying that there would be “no alternative here to the principle of reciprocity.” The move will force president-elect Donald Trump to either accept the sanctions when he takes office, or lift them against the will of US intelligence agencies—and members of his own party.

Theresa May criticized John Kerry for his comments on Israel.“We do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally,” said a spokesperson for the UK prime minister. Other European politicians have shown support for Kerry, while opinion is more divided in the US.

Australian anti-terror police made another arrest. Authorities detained 40-year-old Damien James O’Neil at Sydney Airport, after receiving tips that he made threats regarding a terror attack on New Year’s Eve. Police said that the incident was isolated, which suggests there was no connection to a plot in Melbourne foiled last week.

Police might have found Greece’s missing ambassador.Brazilian authorities say they found a body inside a charred vehicle believed to be Kyriakos Amiridis, Greece’s ambassador to Brazil. Amiridis was last seen on Monday leaving the home of family friends in Rio De Janeiro. Neither the Greek Embassy in Brazil nor Brazil’s foreign ministry have released statements on Amiridis’ disappearance.

Milo Yiannopoulos scored a book deal. The right-wing provocateur received a $250,000 advance to write for Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. The imprint has published titles from other conservative pundits like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh—as well as Donald Trump.


Neha Thirani Bagri on the scary, unimpeachable evidence that climate change is already here. “According to Pew Research, less than half of all American adults believe that the Earth is warming mostly due to human activity. They are wrong, though, and 2016 was the year that news from around the world made climate change undeniable to anyone paying attention.” Read more here.


The UN called Netanyahu’s bluff. Israel’s prime minister has long assumed that the international community would overlook the plight of Palestinians.

High CEO pay doesn’t help companies’ bottom line. There’s a “material disconnect” between what bosses are paid and a company’s financial performance.

Mobile-app games teach bad economics. In-app purchasesmanipulate children into buying things they don’t need.


Nine species have been named after Barack Obama. That’smore than any other president—though Teddy Roosevelt comes close with seven.

Half the planet will have to endure 2016 for an extra moment.On Dec. 31, the world will experience its 28th “leap second.”

Netflix is helping parents get kids to bed early on New Year’s Eve. The streaming service offers 10 different countdown videos to be played, well, whenever you want.

Helsinki’s anti-drug police chief ran a drug ring. He will serve 10 years in prison for helping import 800kg of hashish into Finland.

The CIA refuses to sell a calendar of its official paintings.Produced by the nephew of a CIA contractor, the Secret Ops of the CIA calendar is available for purchase at the International Spy Museum.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, CIA paintings, and countdown videos for kids tohi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android.



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