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The ills of the Smartphone industry go beyond the meltdown of Samsung's Galaxy Note 7. A market sector that was still booming not so long ago is now expected to suffer losses this year for the first time, and is forecast to stagnate for the foreseeable future, a recent report from tech research and advisory company Gartner showed.


Following the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco, Samsung's shares continued to fall today. The burning issue for the South Korean company now clearly is lost revenue, with Reuters putting the figure as high as $17 billion, as Samsung had expected to sell some 19 million units of the now-scrapped device. But analysts warn that the short-term sales hit may just be a prelude to a deeper sullying of the company's reputation.


Of course, Apple is largely expected to profit from Samsung's woes. But this can't hide the fact that sales of the latest iPhone models have been anything but satisfactory. Some have gone as far as to suggest we've already past the peak of the smartphone market. The answer to the "then, what comes next?" question may be a still-to-be-imagined device or innovation — but a different response could be that burning smartphones might be the perfect message to say the never-ending hunt for consumer consumption is illusory and potentially dangerous. Not to mention environmentally unsustainable.



WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY

  • The National Hockey League begins its 100th season.
  • UN Spanish Language Day.


RUSSIAN AIR FORCE PRESENCE IN SYRIA "INDEFINITE"

Russian senators ratified this morning a Russia-Syria agreement for the "indefinite deployment" of Russia's air task force in Syria, news agency Tass reports. One Russian official said the move was "the first but far from the last step" towards consolidating the country's positions "not only in Syria and in the Middle East, but also in the whole world." This comes amid rising tensions between Moscow and Western leaders in Washington, London and Paris, as airstrikes on the besieged city of Aleppo continue. See French daily Le Figaro's front page today.


GUNMEN TARGET SHIA IN KABUL ATTACK

At least 14 people were killed and 36 wounded in attacks that targeted Shia Muslim worshippers in Kabul as they commemorated one of their most important religious holidays, AFP reports. No organization has yet claimed responsibility.


— ON THIS DAY

Happy 44th birthday to the man behind Borat, Brüno and Ali G! Get ready for your 57-second shot of history here.


VERBATIM

"Now you find a situation in which the guy says stuff that nobody would find tolerable if they were applying for a job at 7-Eleven," U.S. President Barack Obama told a campaign rally in Greensboro, North Carolina, in a jibe aimed at Donald Trump. The Republican candidate meanwhile lashed out at the GOP establishment, which has largely left him, and said "the shackles have been taken off me."


LAWYERS OF PARIS TERRORIST QUIT

The two lawyers of Salah Abdeslam, the last known survivor of the terrorist commando behind the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris, will no longer defend him because of his decision to remain silent, they told BFM TV.


— WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

The well-publicized death of the popular Vatican exorcist, Gabriele Amorth, and an award-winning documentary have stirred new interest in ridding the devil from within. For Italian daily La Stampa, Lorenzo Cresci and Giacomo Galeazzi met with several modern-day exorcists: "Every exorcist carries a crucifix and holy water, always ready to recite the deliverance prayer to coax out demons from the possessed. Even the Vatican has addressed the need for exorcists. Pope Benedict XVI once warned there was a need for an exorcist in each diocese in the world. Pope Francis frequently refers to the dangers of Satan in his sermons. But there aren't enough exorcists to meet the growing demand. There are only seven exorcists in Sardinia's 10 dioceses. Elsewhere in Italy, the exorcism "industry" is booming. The number of exorcists in Milan has doubled, while an exorcism hotline was launched in Rome."

Read the full article, Speak Of The Devil, Inside Italy's Boom Of Exorcisms.


UN WARNS OF CONGO CRISIS

The UN envoy to the Democratic Republic of Congo warned of "extreme risk" of all-out violence in the country amid a deepening political dispute over the future of President Joseph Kabila, Reuters reports. His mandate, the last authorized by the country's constitution, expires this year but officials have said that logistical and budget restrictions will prevent elections from taking place until Dec. 2018, something his opponents see as an attempt to hold on to power.


— MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD

Without Further Commercialism — Polperro, 1995


11 HOURS

That's how long it took a British data specialist to make tea using a WiFi kettle.


MORE STORIES, BROUGHT TO YOU BY WORLDCRUNCH

STANDING ON GUADELOUPE

The Isle of Wight and Zanzibar are no longer big enough to fit the entire population of the world. But a recent study has shown that the 7.4 billion inhabitants of our planet (as of July 2016) could all fit on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, with a distribution of 4.5 people per square meter.

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This Happened—December 8: The Day The Music Died

A deranged fan shot and killed former Beatles member John Lennon outside of his apartment on the upper West Side of New York City. Lennon's death shocked the world, and seemed to put a definitive end to the 1960s and 1970s idealist dreams of peace and love.

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