North Korea ICBM, China’s middle-class angst, super-spider silk

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Barack Obama sits down with Xi Jinping. The former US president “looks forward to catching up with his former counterpart” on a swing through several meetings and summits in Asia and Europe. Obama will meet with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi later in the week.

Janet Yellen testifies. The US Federal Reserve chair will speak before a congressional committee on the country’s economic outlook—one of her final official appearances before she hands over the reins to successor Jerome Powell in February. The Fed will also release an estimate for third-quarter GDP and its Beige Book of economic data.

The EU decides on aircraft emission limits. The European Commission proposes that the European Aviation Safety Agency should have leeway to impose tougher limits, but EU member states lean toward protecting the interests of the aviation industry.

While you were sleeping

North Korea resumed ballistic missile tests. Kim Jong-un’s regime launched an intercontinental missile, its 20th test of the year, that reached its highest altitude at 4,500 km (2,800 miles). The regime announced in a lunchtime news broadcast that the missile, called Hwasong-15, is capable of reaching mainland US.

Bitcoin broke $10,000. The cryptocurrency is rapidly breaking through symbolic price barriers, and at a much quicker pace each time. It took bitcoin a bit over two weeks to go from $7,000 to $8,000, and just a week to reach $9,000—days later it crossed $10,000.

Apple disclosed a major bug on Macs. A Turkish developer found that anyone could gain administrator privileges on Macs running the High Sierra operating system without a password. Apple said it’s working on a software update to fix the issue.

Facebook said it can stop the sharing of most terror-related posts within an hour of creation. Thanks to AI, Facebook claims it can detect 99% of posts pertaining to ISIL and al-Qaeda before a user manually reports it, and can also remove 83% of copies of the posts within one hour after they’re uploaded.

A bombshell letter derailed the Uber-Waymo trial. US prosecutors shared a letter from a former Uber employee documenting the existence of a hush-hush unit charged with stealing trade secrets from competitors. The judge accused Uber of withholding evidence and delayed the trial in a billion-dollar lawsuit, filed by Waymo for the alleged theft of autonomous vehicle technology.

Quartz obsession interlude

Echo Huang and Isabella Steger on the child-abuse scandal that’s rocked China’s middle class. “The kindergarten in the most recent scandal belongs to RYB Education, a US-listed operator of early-learning schools in China. The abuse allegations resonated far and wide in China—but wouldn’t have, some argue, were a more a modest school involved. … ‘Our sense of shock comes from the huge gap between our expectations of what our lives [as middle-class people] should be, and what reality is like.’” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The global offshore system means we can’t trust economic data. Funneling money into tax havens causes serious information distortion.

Who’s allowed to make money on the moon? Nation-states agreed to only use celestial bodies for peaceful purposes, but there’s no process in place for ambitious entrepreneurs (paywall).

Financial indexes rule the world. The decision to include countries or companies in an index can redraw markets and sectors.

Surprising discoveries

Feeding spiders graphene can make webs as strong as Kevlars. A solution that also contains carbon nanotubes could create “bionicomposites” in other animals as well.

Tragic circumstances have made South Africa a world leader in penis transplants. The country has the highest rate of penis amputations in the world because of the persistence of traditional male circumcision.

German gamblers were using radioactive iodine to cheat at cards. Daubing Iodine-125 onto certain cards so an accomplice could spot them.

Syrians are naming their babies after Vladimir Putin. It’s a sign of the success of Russia’s soft-power offensive in the country.

Iranian athletes are forbidden to compete against Israelis. Wrestler Alireza Karimi-Machiani’s coach told him to sabotage his match (paywall) at the recent U23 World Senior Wrestling Championship in Poland.

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