Hello! Here’s what you need to know on Friday.
1. US president-elect Donald Trump wants taxpayers to pay for the US-Mexico border wall. Such a move would break Trump’s pledge that Mexico would pay for the wall, which was central to his campaign.
2. Brexit drove a 40% increase in passport applications to Ireland from Britain last year. Acquiring a passport from the Republic of Ireland would allow British citizens to retain their EU citizenship, as the Republic of Ireland will retain its status as a member of the EU when the UK leaves.
3. A suspected terrorist and drug trafficker just became Venezuela’s vice president. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced Tareck El Aissami as vice president of the country. El Aissami is a known entity in the world of US intelligence. He is allegedly a part of Venezuela’s state drug-trafficking network and has ties to Iran, Syria, and Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.
4. Fuel price hikes in Mexico have led to nationwide protests, looting and violence. Five days after a reviled price increase went into effect, Mexicans are still in the streets protesting. Through Thursday, more than 630 people had been arrested in six states.
5. Samsung expects its Q4 profit to increase 50% despite the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco. The result beats expectations, with memory chips and displays likely making up for the scrapped smartphone.
6. Saudi Arabia is reportedly abiding by its agreement to cut oil production. According to The Wall Street Journal, the kingdom has cut its production by at least 486,000 barrels per day to 10.058 million. This comes after OPEC and key non-OPEC members agreed in November to cut production by 1.2 million barrels per day to reduce the global oversupply.
7. Cocaine seizures in Guatemala are at a 10-year high. Guatemalan authorities intercepted 27,397.3 pounds of cocaine last year, with the most recent on December 3. They captured just over 3,600 pounds of cocaine valued at close to US$22.3 million.
8. After the Uber standoff, California lawmakers want to hit rogue self-driving cars with $25,000 a day fines. It comes after Uber launched a self-driving car pilot in San Francisco in December despite not obtaining permits from the California Department of Motor Vehicles. As a result, the California DMV pulled the registrations for Uber’s 16 self-driving vehicles, effectively ending the pilot.
9. Police shoot two attackers dead after car bomb explodes in Turkish city. The car bomb, which exploded outside a courthouse in the Aegean coastal city of Izmir, wounded at least 10 people. Jarring footage of the gun battle and aftermath of explosion is circulating the internet.
10. A Japanese insurance firm replaced 30 workers with IBM’s artificial intelligence technology. If you were worried about a future in which machines replaced human workers, the time has come. More than 30 employees of Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance are being laid off and replaced with an AI system that can calculate payouts to policyholders. The company believes it will increase productivity by 30% and see a return on its investment in less than two years.
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