Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
The UN hosts climate negotiations. Ahead of the COP24 conference in Katowice, Poland, experts are stressing the urgency of action on climate change. The talks are the first since the release last month 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 Soyuz 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. Delayed from yesterday, the launch of 64 small satellites—operated by 34 customers from 17 countries—is the biggest load carried by an American rocket.
A UN-chartered plane evacuates wounded Houthi rebels from Yemen. They will be flown to Oman for treatment, which the Saudi-led military coalition fighting the rebels hopes will build confidence ahead of peace talks in Sweden next month. The Houthis failed to show up to the last round of talks in September.
A deadline for the UK to publish its Brexit legal advice. The Labour party says the UK faces a constitutional crisis and could start contempt proceedings if Theresa May doesn’t release the attorney general’s full legal advice on her Brexit deal, which the prime minister says is confidential.
Over the weekend
George H.W. Bush died at the age of 94. As the 41st US president, he is remembered for helping end the Cold War and ordering the first Iraq War, but his legacy is tainted by recent allegations of him groping women and 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 G20 summit. Donald Trump and Xi Jinping called a temporary trade truce—including an agreement that US tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods won’t be raised on Jan. 1 (paywall)—after a dinner in Buenos Aires. Overall, the summit exposed some of the biggest fault lines between countries, including on trade, migration, and climate change.
Mexico swore in its first leftist president in seven decades. Huge crowds turned out to watch the inauguration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador. In his 90-minute speech, he promised to end corruption, to undo policies that have privatized nearly every aspect of Mexico’s economy, and to “never seek re-election.”
France held an emergency meeting. President Emmanuel Macron gathered his 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.
Nigeria’s president denied he had died and been replaced by a lookalike. At a town hall in Poland, Muhammadu Buhari, who spent five months in the UK last year for medical treatment, addressed a rumor circulating on social media that he had been replaced by a Sudanese imposter.
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”
A Scottish boy sent a birthday card to his dad in heaven. A Royal Mail official confirmed the delivery despite “a difficult challenge avoiding stars and other galactic objects.”
A Chinese translation app is self-censoring. The iFlyTranslate Android app won’t say politically sensitive terms like “Taiwan independence,” “Tiananmen,” or even “Xi Jinping.”
George H.W. Bush had a great domain name. The president’s retirement office used to live online at FLFW.com—for former leader of the free world.
NASA’s Curiosity rover stumbled upon a super-shiny stone on Mars. The object looks like gold at first glance, but is likely a meteor fragment.
A 4,000-year-old pot spent years 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, celestial mail, and Martian objects to email@example.com. Join the next chapter of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written by Alice Truong and edited by Isabella Steger.