Good morning, Quartz readers!
WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY
The 115th US Congress kicks off… The most powerful Republican-led Congress in decades will set its sights (paywall) on repealing the Affordable Care Act, updating the tax code, eliminating financial and environmental regulations, and reviewing president-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees. Republicans, in control of the House and Senate, need only a simple majority to confirm any position lower than the Supreme Court.
…as Trump promises a “revelation” on hacking. Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Trump said he knew “things that other people don’t know” about Russia’s interference in the US election, and would reveal the information “on Tuesday or Wednesday.” Trump advised Americans dealing with sensitive material to avoid computers: “Write it out and have it sent by courier.”
2017 gets its first major meteor shower. Unfortunately for European and African countries, the Quadrantid meteor shower will pass by during the daytime and peak for only a few hours. Stargazers in Asia and North America will have better luck catching it.
OVER THE WEEKEND
ISIL claimed its first attack of 2017. A lone gunman opened fire in an Istanbul nightclub on New Year’s Eve, killing at least 39 people. Turkish authorities are still looking for the suspect; investigators say they have his fingerprints, and have detained eight people. On Monday, ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack, calling the gunman a “heroic soldier of the caliphate” who was acting in revenge for Turkish military involvement in Syria.
North Korea went ballistic. Leader Kim Jong-un said launch preparation is in its “last stage” for an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the US. The Pentagon urged North Korea to “refrain from provocative actions” and said it was prepared to use “the full spectrum of US extended deterrence capabilities.” Kim’s declaration sets the stage for a showdown with Trump, who hascalled Kim a “maniac” (and whom, incidentally, North Korea endorsed for president).
Thailand waffled on its election. A member of the country’s military-appointed National Legislative Assembly told Reuters that presidential elections would likely be delayed until spring 2018, instead of late 2017 as planned, due to the “intricacies involved in drafting election laws.” A spokesman for the government denied that claim.
Dozens were killed in a prison riot in Brazil. In the biggest and most gruesome killing at a Brazilian prison since 1992, at least 56 inmates died during a fight between rival drug gangs at the Anisio Jobim Penitentiary Complex in Amazonas. The riot began Sunday afternoon and lasted until Monday morning. Over 100 inmates escaped, 40 of whom have since been recaptured.
France took work-life balance to the next level. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, France’s “right to disconnect” law took effect, requiring French companies with more than 50 employees to draw up policies limiting the use of work-related technology outside the office. The legislation was introduced by French labor minister Myriam El Khomri to combat “info-obesity.”
QUARTZ OBSESSION INTERLUDE
Ana Campoy on what TVs teach us about globalization. “US television manufacturing wasn’t killed by bad trade deals or competition from cheap labor abroad. It was done in by its own inward focus on the domestic market and its own failure to see the global opportunities at hand—and it won’t be resurrected by protectionist trade policies that encourage businesses to repeat these mistakes.” Read more here.
MATTERS OF DEBATE
We need less empathy, not more. Empathy narrows our focus(paywall) to one group of people, at the expense of less visible groups.
This could be the year the euro collapses. A single-currency system can’t work without solidarity among Eurozone countries.
We should lease endangered species to rich people. Private landowners could protect animals while making money from eco-tourism.
China is making propaganda just for millennials. The Communist Party has invested millions (paywall) in hip-hop songs, TED-style talks, and animated videos.
An iceberg didn’t sink the Titanic. New evidence suggests the boat’s hull was weakened by a fire that went unnoticed for almost three weeks.
You’re more likely to die of natural causes around the holidays. Researchers still aren’t sure why.
The boxing staredown dates back to the 1930s. Modern staredowns have featured everything from pre-fight fights to a game of rock-paper-scissors.
The brain wants high-quality alcohol. The chemicals that cause hangovers are less prevalent in drinks that get distilled multiple times.
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