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What to watch for today
Further drama in the US fiscal cliff showdown. Conservative lawmakers in the Republican-majority House of Representatives are vocally balking at the bill approved by the Senate shortly after the US triggered the fiscal cliff, the dramatic government spending cuts and tax hikes scheduled to go into effect as of Jan. 1. The bill’s Republican critics are looking for more spending cuts, and threatening to try to push an amended version through the House and send that back for Senate approval, a difficult proposition. The New Year’s holiday and the expectation that the deal would quickly make its way into law lessened any immediate impact of the fiscal cliff, but discord in the House could undo that. In any case, the Senate deal if signed into law would only push the crisis into the future.
While you were sleeping
Thieves stole an estimated $1.3 million in iPhones and iPads from Apple’s flagship Paris store. At $7.58 a gram, an iPhone is less valuable than gold or cocaine, but easier to steal.
Forecasts indicated that China, for the first time, is set to produce more cars than Europe in 2013. Chinese auto production is expected to reach 10 times its 2000 level, representing 23.8% of the global market.
Some world leaders told their citizens to stop expecting perfection in 2013. And North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un called for greater economic prosperity and a need to “remove confrontation” with his South Korean neighbors and unify. He failed to mention the suffering of his people, or how he would reconcile South Korea’s requirement that North Korea disband its nuclear weapons program.
Quartz obsession interlude
Gideon Lichfield on how the deal to address the fiscal cliff only delays the crisis. “Let’s be very clear: this deal is by no means a solution to the longer-term goal (paywall) of reducing the deficit by $3-$4 trillion over 10 years. It’s not even really a solution to the fiscal cliff itself. It merely puts off some decisions.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Switzerland’s babies have the best chances in life. Boring stability helps make it the best country in the world to be born in. (If you’re not Swiss, you can consult The Economist’s full global rankings to see how much of a disadvantage you’ve afflicted on any offspring.)
Anorexic fashion models should be illegal. Attempting to fight eating disorders, Israel just made it a crime for models with a body mass index below 18.5 to appear in media or fashion shows.
Anonymity online is a basic human right. And users should be required to opt in before Internet companies can track them.
The party is over for Silicon Valley startups. Time to forego purchasing cute t-shirts with company logos and limit spending to salaries.
Architecture piracy in China. An unauthorized copy of a design by star architect Zaha Hadid could be completed before the original Beijing building itself is finished.
US prosecutors last week seized a Tyrannosaurus skeleton worth more than $1 million. It and five other dinosaur skeletons will be returned to the Mongolian government.
China’s new coins feature an aircraft carrier on them, while euro currency out later this year will bear the image of a tragic princess.
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