Trade deal doubt, Macron in Shanghai, cake controversy

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Progress (or otherwise) on what would be the world’s largest trade bloc. It’s looking unlikely that the China-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership will be finalized as hoped during the ASEAN summit in Bangkok, largely because of new demands by India. But a joint statement issued today could offer clues on what’s next.

Emmanuel Macron visits Shanghai. The French president, accompanied by various EU officials, will attend a giant import fair and press China to deliver on its promises of greater market access for foreign firms. He’ll have his eyes on agribusiness and finance in particular.

Donald Trump sends a letter. As of today he can formally ask to leave the Paris climate accord, which he’s long railed against. That would trigger a yearlong countdown before the US can officially exit, and in the meantime he can trumpet the request to his base.

Over the weekend

Toxic smog in Delhi hit “unbearable levels.” Authorities urged people to stay indoors as the air quality drastically deteriorated in many areas of India’s capital. Schools were closed and more than 30 flights diverted. The pollution mostly stems from farmers burning crop stubble, which emits a toxic cocktail that can cause lung disease.

The Hong Kong protests continued. In the eastern suburb of Taikoo Shing, police fired tear gas at demonstrators and a man in a mall had his ear partially bitten off by an attacker who also stabbed several people.

The IPO for Saudi Aramco was officially launched. The stock listing for Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company is set for December. Bankers have placed its valuation in the range of $1.5 trillion, easily surpassing Apple and Microsoft. Officials didn’t say how many shares will be sold.

Betomania fizzled out. Beto O’Rourke, the former congressman from Texas, dropped out of the Democratic primary for US president. He never caught fire with voters like some pundits thought he might after nearly defeating Ted Cruz in a Senate race last year.

Sports fans booed Trump again. The US president and his entourage were met with boos and jeers from the crowd while attending a UFC event in New York. He faced a similar reception last week at Game 5 of the World Series in Washington, DC.

Quartz Obsession

Are you watching the Watchmen? Creator Alan Moore isn’t happy about it, but the big-budget comic-book adaptation is doing brisk business on HBO as the next big prestige TV show. Makes sense—Watchmen was arguably the first prestige comic, shaping the extended universe we all live in now. Tune in at the Quartz Obsession.

Matters of Debate

Computerized medical records are bad. They increase healthcare costs and force doctors to focus on billing instead of patients.

Open borders are a trillion-dollar shortcut to global prosperity. The new wealth created by immigrants would help lead to a worldwide boom.

Netflix is hamstringing The Witcher. The upcoming series wants to be Game of Thrones but has no chance of matching the HBO hit’s success with its episodes being released all at once.

Surprising discoveries

Censorship of Hong Kong’s demonstrations spread to a UK cake contest. The organizer disqualified a confection featuring a protestor, saying it “led to complaints from attendees.”

Greta Thunberg needs help crossing the Atlantic again. She’s chasing the COP25 climate summit, which moved from Chile to Spain due to riots.

A French space startup is launching wine into orbit. It hopes microgravity and other factors will lead to superior taste.

No refugees were resettled in the US in October. It marks the first time for that to happen in a month since records began.

Amsterdam citizens can now own a piece of their city—literally. Stones and gables dating back to the 17th century, dislodged by urban renewal projects, are now up for grabs.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, transatlantic shipping schedules, and old Watchmen comics to Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Steve Mollman and Adam Epstein.