Trudeau charms China, Vice fires staff, tarantula skyscrapers

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today and over the weekend

Canada begins bilateral trade talks with China. Prime minister Justin Trudeau will head to Beijing on Sunday to promote trade and tourism. Critics have raised concerns about a possible free-trade agreement, citing Chinese human rights violations.

The Senate resumes voting on a tax bill. Majority leader Mitch McConnell said voting will restart at 11am local time today. Republicans are scrambling to save the legislation, with three party members demanding changes to the bill to avoid a large deficit increase.

Barack Obama dines with Emmanuel Macron. The French president will treat the former US president to a private lunch in Paris this weekend ahead of an event with communications professionals. The meeting isn’t official, as they don’t want to offend Donald Trump.

While you were sleeping

Vice fired three employees as part of a sexual harassment investigation. The media company didn’t name the sacked staff, but said their conduct “ranged from verbal and sexual harassment to other behavior that is inconsistent with our policies.”

Trump called the San Francisco shooting verdict “disgraceful.” After the jury cleared an illegal Mexican immigrant of murder for shooting a woman in San Francisco in 2015, the president tweeted: “no wonder the people… are so angry with illegal immigration.” Trump repeatedly referenced the case to bolster his anti-immigration message during his 2016 campaign.

Zimbabwe’s new president put his military allies in government. Emmerson Mnangagwa appointed a raft of senior military figures to top cabinet jobs—including some ministers who also served under Robert Mugabe. The opposition criticized the decision as a missed opportunity to make a break with the past.

RBS is axing 25% of its UK branches. The bank said it was cutting another 680 jobs as more customers bank online—that means it will have closed more than one-third of its UK branch network in 2017. It’s not alone: Lloyds will shut 49 branches next year due to people opting for digital banking.

Japan set the date for the emperor’s abdication. A panel chaired by prime minister Shinzo Abe agreed that 83-year-old emperor Akihito can finally abdicate on April 30, 2019, according to public broadcaster NHK. It’s the first abdication by a Japanese monarch in 200 years.

Quartz obsession interlude

Thomas Page McBee on whether a man can truly not know whether he abused or harassed someone. “Today, it’s easy to identify the most toxic results of hyper-masculinity in the actions of sexual predators, who are finally being brought to justice. There’s some satisfaction in seeing them fall, one by one. But I remain worried about the men who live in shades of grey, men who have reacted to the ruin of offenders with wide-eyed defensiveness, tone-deafness, or palpable anxiety.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The era of Angela Merkel is nearing an end. The Social Democrats are only considering another coalition government with the German chancellor as her days are numbered (paywall).

The bitcoin bubble is the media’s fault. News outlets have fed a public frenzy for dubious investing before: the famous Dutch tulip bubble coincided with the advent of newspapers.

Are we witnessing the end of the jumbo jet? The gas-guzzling giants are expensive for airlines, which are opting for smaller planes.

Surprising discoveries

Some tarantulas live in high rises. Newly discovered blue tarantulas use trees much like skyscrapers.

Amazon thinks Alexa can fix conference calls. Its AI assistant will be able to book rooms, set up call lines, and manage travel plans.

A Chinese man repainted road signs to make his commute quicker. He was fined after CCTV cameras spotted him painting arrows to redirect traffic.

Ireland’s stock exchange sold for the same amount as a Wall Street banker’s salary. The exchange was recently purchased for €137 million ($163 million).

Someone turned a Tesla into a bitcoin mine. It’s only a good idea if you’re using an unlimited Tesla super-charging station.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, retired jumbo jets, and repurposed Teslas to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android.