Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Mexicans strike, Target delivers, flu mask fashion, bad commutes

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Obama talks immigration. The US president will speak from the White House at 8pm local time (8am Friday HKT). Besides letting undocumented parents of children born in the US stay in the country, he’s also expected to grant more work visas to foreign graduates who could fill high-tech jobs.

Takata testifies. An executive from the Japanese airbag maker will join colleagues from Honda and Chrysler in Washington to explain its recall process. Earlier this week US regulators demanded a nationwide recall, and the family of a woman killed by a faulty airbag filed suit against Takata and Honda.

Hong Kong police clear more protestors. After some protestors tried to smash their way into a government building on Wednesday, police may clear campsites in Mong Kok, a part of town that the police chief described as full of “radicals and troublemakers.” Some 3,000 police officers—10% of the total force—will be deployed.

Mexicans take to the streets. A day of strikes and protests is planned over the authorities’ handling of the murders of 43 students in October. The aftermath of the murders, carried out by a criminal gang in cahoots with police, is hurting tourism, and has highlighted the laxity of background checks on Mexican police and public officials.

Countries pass the hat for climate change. Officials are hoping the UN-backed Green Climate Fund, set up to help poor countries deal with the effects of global warming, will pass $10 billion or even $15 billion in contributions at a pledging meeting in Berlin. Still, it has to be spread around 48 recipient nations.

While you were sleeping

Iceland jailed one of the bankers that broke it. Sigurjon Arnason—once the CEO of Landsbanki—got a year in jail (nine months suspended) for manipulating markets. His bank and two others collectively racked up $75 billion in debt, then collapsed, plunging the country into a financial crisis lasting half a decade.

Netflix put Bill Cosby on the back-burner. Fresh rape accusations—and the American comedian’s refusal to respond—have prompted the video streaming service to delay Bill Cosby 77, which was due to air Nov. 28. The US network NBC also canceled an upcoming Cosby program. A total of 15 women have now accused Cosby of sexual violence.

Thousand of students filled the streets of London. They’re furious that maximum tuition fees have risen to £9,000 ($14,100) a year. Three police officers suffered minor injuries. On the other side of the pond, 100 people blocked access to a building on a University of California campus for much the same reason.

Azerbaijan beat the war drums. The country will increase defense spending by more than a quarter next year, even though the price of the oil its economy depends on is falling. That doesn’t bode well for its long-running conflict with Armenia.

A fresh Apple rumor hit the internet. The Financial Times (paywall) says that in early 2015 the device maker will push the Beats streaming service—which Apple acquired in August—to every iPhone and iPad, in an aggressive challenge to Spotify. Beats isn’t free, but rumors say it may be cut to $5 per month instead of the current $10.

Target’s new CEO delivered. The American big-box retailer—which is trying to expand into Canada—reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings. Brian Cornell, who has run Target since August, says the holiday shopping season should be even better. (Last year’s was marred by a massive data breach.)

Quartz obsession interlude

Jeff Yang looks on how the flu mask is becoming a fashion accessory. “The custom of facemask-wearing began in Japan during the early years of the 20th century, when a massive pandemic of influenza killed between 20 and 40 million people around the world—more than died in World War I. There were outbreaks of the disease on every inhabited continent, including Asia (where it devastated India, leading to the deaths of a full 0.5% of the population).” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Spotify is the future of music. Some artists will benefit—but most won’t.

Let’s quit saying “drink the Kool-Aid”. It’s a reference to a day—36 years ago this week—when more than 900 Americans died due to cyanide poisoning.

Movie ticket pricing is too rigid. The cost of admission should be tied to the budget of the film—says a movie studio head.

Elon Musk doesn’t know anything about artificial intelligence. He’s just fearmongering to get attention.

President Obama is abusing his power. And the US Congress will fight his soon-to-be-unveiled immigration reforms.

Surprising discoveries

The right food is better than medicine. A Mediterranean diet cuts your risk of dying after a heart attack three times more than an anti-cholesterol drug.

Think your commute is bad? These New Zealand butchers travel nearly 14,000 miles—one way—to work in Iceland for two months.

OK, maybe your commute is bad. Here’s a map of the toughest commutes in America.

One in 10 British men have paid for sex. And it tends to be young men.

Texting is really bad for your spine. It’s the equivalent of putting 60 lb (27 kg) on your neck.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, fashionable face masks, and commuting horror stories to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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