Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
US tax bill voting kicks off. Republicans in both the House and Senate are hoping to get the $1.5 trillion tax bill on Donald Trump’s desk by tomorrow. While some votes are still up in the air, a pass would make it the biggest tax overhaul in decades.
South Korea and Japan begin talks on a disputed “comfort women” deal. Foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha meets her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono to resolve a rift over the 2015 deal regarding Korean women who were forced to serve as sex slaves for the Japanese army during World War II. Seoul contends the agreement was hastily made and fails to acknowledge surviving victims.
China’s biggest video game launches in North America. Tencent’s Honor of Kings has about 200 million monthly players but its success has been limited mostly to China. The internet giant renamed it Arena of Valor for overseas players and hopes to prove that China’s gaming sector can compete on the global stage.
While you were sleeping
The US publicly blamed North Korea for the WannaCry cyberattack. Tom Bossert, homeland security adviser to Donald Trump, alleged in a Wall Street Journal column (paywall) that North Korea was “directly responsible” for the attack that cost billions.
Violent protests erupted in Buenos Aires over pension reforms. Stone-throwing protestors clashed with security forces outside the capitol building as Argentina’s congress appeared on track to pass pension reforms to tackle the nation’s deficit. Authorities reported over 100 people had been injured and nearly 50 arrested. Demonstrators say the reforms will hurt the poor.
An Amtrak train derailed in Washington state. More than 70 people were on board as the train traveled along a new high-speed route on its first run. Several automobiles were crushed as train cars fell off an overpass. At least three people were killed, and about 100 were injured.
House Republicans unveiled a massive disaster-aid bill. The legislation if passed would provide $81 billion in emergency aid for recent hurricanes and wildfires, making it the largest single funding request for natural calamities in US history. Last month Donald Trump had requested $44 billion, an amount widely criticized for being too low.
Quartz obsession interlude
Marc Bain on the remarkable enduring cool of the Doc Marten boot. “Kids today are comfortable assembling their eclectic identities by pulling in references and ideas from a variety of places, just as their Instagram feeds do. Fashion today feels less defined by strict categories, such as ‘prep’ or ‘punk.’ As much as pointing to how the brand has grown, and how its image has shifted over the decades, Dr. Martens’ broadening customer base could be seen a symbol of this change as well.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Getting political is good for business. Consumers are increasingly making purchasing decisions based on values.
There are hidden benefits to being a woman in tech. You can manipulate male bias, tap into a network of female investors, and turn inappropriate flirting into an investor litmus test.
Bitcoin is a good gift for the holidays. It’s the perfect way to tell your friends and family that you too are deeply suspect of a centralized monetary body.
The Vatican uses milk to paint its buildings. An ancient recipe mixes milk from the Pope’s cows with slaked lime and natural pigments.
A Washington state mayor predicted the new Amtrak line would cause fatalities. “We thought a train-vehicle collision was virtually inevitable,” says Lakewood mayor Don Anderson.
Buying lunch with bitcoin could become a thing. The Lightning Lab is trying to cheapen bitcoin transactions so we can use the cryptocurrency to pay for small stuff.
Coffee is the key to surviving the globe’s collapse. Preppers are counting on the bean’s stimulation to stay alert in the face of exhaustion, headaches, and zombies.
A German banker spent six months counting 1.2 million pennies. A trucker collected the pennies over his 30-year career, and later bequeathed the 2.5-metric-ton inheritance to his family.
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