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Ireland has outlined the grounds for its appeal against the European Commission’s demand that it claw back €13bn of state aid from Apple, accusing Brussels of interfering with national sovereignty. The Irish finance ministry said the EU’s executive arm had misunderstood both Irish law and the relevant facts of the case, and also that the commission had exceeded its powers.

The size of the demand — the biggest in an EU state-aid case — took many observers by surprise and triggered a vitriolic response in Dublin, Silicon Valley and even Washington, which accused Brussels of trampling on international tax norms. Here is the inside story of Apple’s multibillion dollar tax bill — and the EU team behind it dubbed “The Maxforce”. (FT, Bloomberg)

In the news

Aleppo evacuation resumes The evacuation of tens of thousands of civilians trapped in the rebel-held enclaves of eastern Aleppo has resumed despite earlier setbacks. The agreement collapsed on Sunday after militants torched the buses that were to transport the civilians out, at which point regime of President Bashar al-Assad prevented buses leaving Aleppo. The latest agreement calls for the simultaneous evacuation of civilians from the Shia villages of Fuaa and Kefraya, which have been besieged by rebels for much of Syria’s five-year civil war. (FT)

US drugmaker charges 200 times UK price for common worm pill Impax Laboratories has put a price tag of more than $800 on a pinworm treatment — 200 times more expensive than the equivalent medicine on British pharmacy shelves, in the latest example of “price gouging” in the world’s largest healthcare market. The US drug company started selling mebendazole this year at an average wholesale price of $442 per pill, the FT has found. Most cases of pinworm require two pills, meaning a course of treatment costs about $884. The parasite, common in children, affects up to 40m in the US and family members are advised to be treated at the same time, putting a household of five’s treatment costs at more than $4,400. (FT)

Vodafone eyes drone traffic control role The telecoms company is looking to move into the lucrative business of managing drone traffic, after meeting European aviation safety authorities about adapting its network to track and identify unmanned aircraft. The move comes as regulators seek to develop a framework to integrate drones safely into international airspace by 2030. Sesar, the European project to overhaul the region’s air traffic management, estimates there could be more than 400,000 commercial and government drones flying in its airspace by 2035, many at low levels and over densely populated areas. (FT)

Oil industry on cusp of recovery The world’s major oil and gas companies will turn cash flow positive for the first time in three years in 2017 if the Opec production cartel succeeds in keeping the oil price above $55 a barrel. That is the conclusion of Wood Mackenzie, the respected energy consultancy, in a new report that portrays an industry on the cusp of recovery from the steep declines in earnings and investment seen since crude prices crashed in 2014. (FT)

China-US co-production scores box office success The Great Wall, China’s first effort at a western-style celebrity blockbuster, starring actor Matt Damon, scored a box office success in its first weekend at home, making Rmb460m ($66m) since Friday. The film is the first major test for Legendary East, the Hollywood studio that made Jurassic World and was bought in January by billionaire Wang Jianlin’s Dalian WandaGroup. Mr Wang, China’s richest man, has spent lavishly to break into movies, television and theme parks, and sees Legendary attempting more blockbuster films like The Great Wall, which was the largest China-US co-production to date. (FT)

Uber tests self-driving laws The company’s longstanding fight with regulators is expanding into a new field: self-driving vehicles. Since last Wednesday, Uber has defiantly offered rides to San Francisco customers in a handful of autonomous vehicles despite opposition from California regulators who demand that the company get a state permit or pull the cars off the road. The skirmish sets the stage for the first major test of nascent autonomous-driving laws. (WSJ)

It’s a big day for

Donald Trump The 538 members of the electoral college will meet on Monday to determine who will be the next president — though there are murmurings of a rebellion, they’re expected to choose the man who lost the popular vote but won the election. Here is how it is likely to go down. (Vox, NYT)

Congo Many fear a fresh wave of protests on Monday if President Joseph Kabila refuses to stand down at the end of his second and final elected term of office. Politicians and diplomats worry that if Kinshasa, a sprawling city of 12m people that is the centre of opposition to Mr Kabila, and other cities erupt, the country risks plunging into its worst crisis since the end of the 1998-2003 war in which seven other countries became involved and up to 5m people died. (FT)

Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s WeekAhead.

Food for thought

US ‘sanctuary’ cities vow to shield immigrants Donald Trump has vowed to deport undocumented immigrants en masse, and no one knows what will happen after he is sworn in next month. But if the next president’s immigration agenda includes a pitched battle over “sanctuary” cities, “the proper response from places like New York will be: Bring it on”, says the NYT. As California considers bold steps to shield its residents from a possible Trump immigration assault, the New York City Council has already built its own strong web of protections. (New Yorker, NYT)

Romer’s racket Paul Romer, chief economist of the World Bank, has written a devastating critique of his profession, portraying modern macroeconomics as a racket held together by people who protect their influence. If he is right, and macroeconomics has been regressing, those of us who seek to defend the liberal order should consider reclaiming the central areas of economic policy, says Wolfgang Münchau. (FT)

Saved by Bach Zuzana Ruzickova endured three concentration camps during the second world war, including Auschwitz, and was persecuted by the Communists in Czechoslovakia in the years that followed. But not only did she survive, she also went on to become one of the world’s leading harpsichordists. She attributes her survival to the music of Bach. (BBC)

Trump’s collision course with China “Without realising it, the US electorate appears to have opened the gates to a new cold war in which America’s hand will be far less strong than it was first time round,” writes the FT’s Ed Luce. World Weekly podcast: Trump’s Taiwan foray (FT)

At Christmas, why not try the ‘anti-diet’? Mindful eating is not a diet, or about giving up anything at all. It’s about experiencing food more intensely — especially the pleasure of it. You can eat a cheeseburger mindfully, if you wish. You might enjoy it a lot more. Or you might decide, halfway through, that your body has had enough. Or that it really needs some salad. (NYT)

China’s real-life Big Brother China is starting on the most ambitious experiment in digital social control in the world. The Communist party is planning what it calls a “social-credit system”. This aims to score not only the financial creditworthiness of citizens, as happens everywhere, but also their social and possibly political behaviour. (Economist)

Video of the day

The FT’s best books of the year Martin Wolf, Andrew Hill, Maria Crawford, Lorien Kite and others select their best books of 2016 in history, fashion, fiction, work and poetry. (FT)

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