Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today and over the weekend
Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker could seal a Brexit Irish border deal. The UK prime minister and European Commission president are reportedly close to an agreement, which could be signed today. The land border in Ireland has been a key obstacle to opening free-trade talks between the UK and the EU.
The UN Security Council meets on Jerusalem. At the request of eight states, the 15-member body will convene on Friday to discuss Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The abrupt reversal of decades of US policy has generated outrage and protests from Palestinians and the wider Muslim world.
Gujarat votes for a new legislature. The home state of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi will head to the polls this weekend to determine the breakdown of its 182-member state house. The outcome will likely have a bearing on the country’s next general election, which could displace Modi if the ruling party doesn’t win enough seats.
While you were sleeping
Gaza attacked Israel, which struck back. In response to three rockets launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military hit two of Gaza’s militant posts via aircraft and tank. Neither attack resulted in casualties, but regional tensions remain high over Donald Trump’s Jerusalem decision.
China’s exports growth hit an eight-month high. Last month exports jumped 12.3% from a year ago, well above analysts’ forecast of a 5% increase. Meanwhile imports grew 17.7% year-on-year, easily beating expectations of 11.3% growth. The strong showing came despite a government crackdown on debt risks and factory pollution.
Japan said its third-quarter growth was much faster than estimated. The economy grew an annualized 2.5% in the quarter, compared to a preliminary reading of 1.4%, thanks largely to big gains in capital expenditure. Buoyant exports, increased consumer spending, and strong tourism are expected to help fuel continued expansion.
The US Congress avoided a government shutdown. Lawmakers had until today to come up with a short-term spending bill to keep the government running through Dec. 22. The measure, which Trump is expected to sign, creates more time for lawmakers to spar over the budget.
Russia said Pyongyang wants direct talks with Washington. According to Russian news agencies, foreign minister Sergei Lavrov told US secretary of state Rex Tillerson about North Korea’s desire to discuss guarantees for its security. Relations have frayed as the US and South Korea engage in annual combat exercises, amid warnings from Pyongyang that war is unavoidable.
Quartz obsession interlude
Thorsten Botz-Bornstein on when the world developed such bad taste. “Humans have always needed truths to believe in. Whereas in the past those truths tended to be transmitted through cultures, they are now increasingly produced instantaneously without cultural mediation. Kitsch employs this mechanism in the realm of aesthetics. In today’s world, kitsch is redefining our perception of truth; it is a truth devoid of culture or context.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
America needs to treat women like Norway does. If the US workforce included more women, the nation could be roughly $1.6 trillion richer.
Robots aren’t killing jobs fast enough. The labor market might be steady, but we need faster industry disruption in order to create entirely new types of careers.
Taylor Swift is the best or worst thing in music. She’s either a bold, refreshing role model for a growing generation of young women, or a mean and manipulative icon of white privilege.
Bitcoin is making neo-Nazis rich. Many white nationalists embraced cryptocurrency after losing jobs and access to standard online payment services.
MIT researchers are making computers out of live bacteria. A new responsive material uses living cells that can be programmed to act like basic computers.
The 2018 Winter Olympics will be the coldest in decades. A projected temperature of -14 ºC (7 ºF) in Pyeongchang will be dangerously frigid for spectators in the roofless main stadium.
“Reduced” emissions by rich countries are actually just exported. Poorer nations pick up the environmental tab for emissions when they make products for overseas brands.
Walmart’s new meal-kit service is already selling out. Affordable meals like chicken tikka masala and Thai crab curry should put competitors on notice.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, bacteria computers, and crab curry to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android.