Bangladesh election, Dubai princess, fascist calendars

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today and over the weekend

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership goes into effect. The successor to the Trans-Pacific Partnership—the trade deal Donald Trump pulled the US out of after taking office—goes into force on Sunday. The deal cuts tariffs and other trade barriers for its members, among them Japan, Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, and Singapore.

Bangladesh votes. On Sunday, 100 million voters in the South Asian nation will decide whether to give prime minister Sheikh Hasina a third term. Hasina is hoping that Bangladesh’s impressive economic growth will deliver her yet another victory. Scores of opposition members have been jailed or attacked ahead of the polls.

A new Black Mirror instalment. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, which debuts on Netflix today, could be the franchise’s long-awaited choose-your-own-adventure film. The setting of Bandersnatch appears to be a video game company somewhere in the UK in 1984.

A big deadline for Sears. Liquidators will likely break the US retail icon into pieces, barring a bid for the whole company. Chairman Eddie Lampert put forward a $4.6 billion proposal to buy the company out of bankruptcy through his hedge fund, but faces a deadline today to submit his offer.

While you were sleeping

US Congress reconvened, then quickly adjourned. Members of the House and Senate met briefly, with no resolution in sight for the government shutdown which now likely looks to extend into the new year—when a Democrat-controlled House will have a stronger hand in dealing with Trump’s demands for funding for his border wall.

New York City’s night-sky was flooded by blue light. A transformer explosion at a power plant’s substation in Queens sparked a fire that lit the sky bright blue, and prompted LaGuardia Airport, which experienced a temporary blackout, to cancel some flights.

A former Irish president got mixed up in the mystery of Dubai’s missing princess. Mary Robinson, who was also the former UN high commissioner for human rights, appeared in photos released by the emirate’s royal family showing her having lunch with Sheikha Latifa, who hasn’t been heard from since March after she tried to flee Dubai. Robinson, who called the princess “clearly troubled,” was criticized by rights groups who allege that the young woman is being held against her will.

Cellphone data possibly outed Michael Cohen. Digital records from cell towers in Prague were reportedly traced to Cohen’s cell phone and dated to the summer of 2016, indicating that Trump’s former fixer may have been in the city for a meeting with Russian officials. The newly disclosed information could conflict with statements made by Cohen, who continues to claim he has never been to the Czech Republic.

Quartz obsession interlude

Why do soda and suds come in sixes? Thank Coca-Cola, which wanted a portable number for people to put in their newfangled refrigerators. Except for craft brewers trying the four-pack on for size, the six is now pretty well fixed—but maybe not the plastic film that binds it. Read more here.

Matters of debate

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The West won’t catch up to China in payment apps. Government oversight, low competition, and China’s healthy headstart on fintech has left America firmly in the dust.

Businesses need to rethink affirmative action. The policy should be less about diversity and more about leveling a playing field tilted by generations of systemic racism.

Smartphones are helping fuel sexual violence in India. Increasingly easy access to porn isn’t being accompanied by a more meaningful understanding of sex and relationships.

Surprising discoveries

Michelle Obama is now America’s most admired woman. Hillary Clinton had dominated the top spot on Gallup’s poll for 17 years.

The EU is seeking forgotten women writers. A hefty research grant will fund efforts to rediscover oppressed works by authors, diarists, and other artists from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.

Demand for Mussolini calendars is up. Right-wing populism in Italy is fueling fresh interest in calendars featuring the ruthless dictator.

A transatlantic journey is being made in a high-tech barrel. French adventurer Jean-Jacques Savin’s ambitious voyage from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean may help oceanographers study currents.

A father went to great extremes to spend time with his daughter over Christmas. He traveled with his daughter, a Delta Airlines flight attendant, on six flights over three days in the US.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, seaworthy barrels, and undiscovered female writers to Join the next chapter of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written by Isabella Steger and edited by Tripti Lahiri.