Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
The UN hosts climate negotiations. The COP24 conference takes place in Katowice, Poland, with experts describing the planet as being “at a crossroads” and stressing the urgency of action on climate change. The talks are the first since the recent release of a landmark report on global temperature rise.
A new crew heads to the ISS… NASA will livestream the 6am ET launch of a Russian Soyuz rocket carrying an American, Canadian, and Russian to the International Space Station. Expedition 58 is the first manned Suyoz expedition since a booster malfunction blew up the last rocket on Oct. 11. (The two astronauts onboard survived.)
…while SpaceX launches a record-breaking cargo into space. The 64 small satellites—operated by 34 customers from 17 countries—are the most ever carried by American rocket. The variety, the company hopes, demonstrates the potential of the space business.
The US and India air forces begin a 12-day drill. The West Bengal event is the fourth in a series of bilateral military exercises between the two countries. Wariness of China prompted the two countries to sign a military agreement (paywall) in September.
Over the weekend
George H.W. Bush died at the age of 94. As US president, he helped end the Cold War and delivered a victory in the first Iraq War, but his legacy is tainted by the troubled tenure of his son, George W. Bush. Trump hailed the statesman as a “truly wonderful man,” despite having objected to some of his policies.
A productive (but weird) G20 summit. Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping called a temporary trade truce (paywall) after a dinner at the gathering in Buenos Aires. The event exposed some of the biggest fault lines between countries, including on trade, migration, and climate change.
Mexico swore in its first leftist president in decades. Huge crowds turned out to watch the inauguration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who promised to “purify public life.” His 90-minute speech included praise for the Trump administration, criticism of his predecessors, and a pledge to revive the economy.
France held an emergency meeting. President Emmanuel Macron gathered ministers after 100 people were arrested and 400 injured in anti-government protests in Paris. Macron criticized the violence of the rallies, which began weeks ago in response to a fuel tax and rising living expenses.
Tribune Media found new owners (again). Nexstar Media Group has agreed to buy the company for $4.1 billion, according to Reuters. That would make it the biggest operator of local TV stations in the US. In August Tribune dropped its sale to Sinclair Broadcast Group after prolonged negotiations.
Iran said it will step up its weapons testing. The nation’s trial run for midrange multi-warhead missiles drew sharp rebukes from the White House, though Iran denied any tests took place, adding that its “defensive” program didn’t violate UN Security Council restrictions.
The hamster wheel is a metaphor for mindless momentum. But not for animals. In one study, researchers set up a wheel in the wild and tracked 200,000 mice, shrews, and frogs indulging in a run, suggesting the practice is not just a byproduct of pet boredom. Read more in the Quartz Obsession.
“There are major issues that we will not be able to solve without robots: climate change, space junk, space exploration, deforestation, pollution, trash in impoverished cities, etc. We just don’t have the economic and business models nor willing people to solve these problems.”
—Minh Do, executive director at Vertex Ventures, on “Robot Reality Check: They Create Wealth—and Jobs”
Japan opened a customer hotline for foreigners. The help desk will offer support in six languages for visitors irked by fines, bad service, and unexpected retail bills.
A Chinese translation app is self-censoring. The iFlyTranslate app won’t say politically sensitive terms like “protest,” “Taiwan independence,” or “Tiananmen Square” on Android devices.
George H.W. Bush had a great domain name. The president’s retirement office used to be hosted at FLFW.com—for Former Leader of the Free World.
Curiosity Rover spotted a super-shiny stone on Mars. It looks like gold at a glance, but the object is likely a meteor fragment.
A 4,000-year-old pot was repurposed as a toothbrush holder. The owner of the cheap flea-market find had no clue it dated back to the Indus Valley Civilization.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, hamster wheels, and freewheeling translation apps to firstname.lastname@example.org. Join the next chapter of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written by Jackie Bischof and McKinley Noble and edited by Steve Mollman.