Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Alibaba’s bond sale, Obama’s immigration order, Apple’s Beats plan, world’s worst commutes

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What to watch for today

Obama waives deportations. Up to five million undocumented immigrants will be allowed to stay in the United States, including the parents of US citizens and people who came to the country as young children, under the US president’s executive order. He is also expected to grant more work visas to foreign graduates who could fill high-tech jobs in a speech from the White House at 8pm local time (1am GMT Friday).

Alibaba raises another $8 billion. The Chinese e-commerce giant will sell the year’s most sought-after bond issue to renew existing loans and pay for general corporate expenses. The company also raised $25 billion in September in the largest IPO ever.

Will Hong Kong police dismantle more protest sites? Police have warned they are prepared to deploy 3,000 police officers—10% of the total force—to clear pro-democracy encampments in Mong Kok, a part of town the police chief described as full of “radicals and troublemakers.”

Mexicans take to the streets. A day of strikes and protests is planned over the government’s handling of the murders of 43 students in October by a criminal gang in cahoots with police.

Passing the hat for climate change. The UN-backed Green Climate Fund, set up to help poor countries deal with the effects of global warming, is seeking up to $15 billion in contributions at a meeting in Berlin, with the proceeds going to 48 recipient nations.

While you were sleeping

China’s manufacturing flatlined… The HSBC/Markit flash purchasing managers’ index was a lower-than-expected 50 for November—right at the dividing line between expansion and contraction—from 50.4 in October. The survey of small- to medium-sized companies adds to evidence of an economic slowdown and may spur Beijing to consider additional stimulus measures.

…And Japan’s weakened. The Markit/JMMA flash purchasing managers’ index fell in November to 52.1 from 52.4 in October. On the up side, factory output grew the most in six months, suggesting the country’s unexpected recession may be brief.

Yahoo nabbed a Firefox partnership from Google. The Firefox browser, which generates 100 billion searches per year, will use Yahoo as its default search engine from December, replacing Google. Until recently, Firefox’s deal with Google accounted for most of the browser firm’s revenue.

Russia’s first McDonald’s reopened. The Pushkin Square branch in Moscow had been closed since August, after the government appeared to target the chain in retaliation for Western sanctions. Around half of Russia’s 400 McDonald’s restaurants remain closed due to either “financial” or “hygiene” audits.

Beats may be coming to iOS. 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 the price may be cut in half to $5 per month.

Target’s new CEO delivered. The US big-box retailer reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings, and CEO Brian Cornell said 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 air mask became 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

Silicon Valley’s herd culture may be turning on Uber. Napster, which “broke all the rules and got shut down,” is a cautionary tale.

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

Quit saying “drink the Kool-Aid.” It’s a reference to a day 36 years ago when more than 900 people died of 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.

Surprising discoveries

A Dutch mom rescued her daughter from Syria. The daughter married an ISIL fighter but it didn’t work out.

Drink wine if you can’t make the gym. A glass of red does just as much good for the heart as a vigorous workout.

Think your commute is bad? These New Zealand butchers travel nearly 14,000 miles to work in Iceland.

OK, maybe your commute is bad. Here’s a map of America’s toughest home-to-work-and-back travel routes.

Texting is toxic 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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