Trade truce, climate failure, crypto exhumation

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Markets react to US-China trade deal progress. It will be the first full day of trading since a “phase-one” agreement was announced Friday. Investors will also be reacting to tariff reductions from both sides.

Hong Kong’s leader meets with Xi Jinping in Beijing. Carrie Lam will discuss the political and economic situation back home with the Chinese president. The visit, which began a few days ago, is her first since her government suffered a defeat in local elections last month.

China releases economic data for November. Analysts expect improving industrial production and a rebound in retail sales growth, helped by a Singles Day that saw sales top $38 billion.

Over the weekend

China eased up on retaliatory tariffs. Authorities announced that duties on some US goods meant to take effect Sunday would be suspended. That followed the US saying Friday it will not hit China with any new tariffs and will slightly reduce existing ones.

The UN climate talks ended in disappointment. The COP25 talks in Madrid failed to produce bold pledges from major nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions more rapidly, despite the proceedings running two days longer than planned.

Hong Kong protesters marched in malls. Disrupting peak holiday shopping, demonstrators chanted slogans like “fight for freedom.” Police in some cases responded with tear gas and pepper spray, according to local media reports.

North Korea staged another test at a long-range rocket site. State media offered few details beyond describing the operation as “very important.” Experts speculated it involved a new engine for either an ICBM or space launch vehicle.

Thailand saw its biggest protests since the 2014 military coup. About 10,000 supporters of the Future Forward party took to the streets in Bangkok. Authorities have made moves to dissolve the party, which did well in a long-awaited general election earlier this year.

Quartz obsession

Ten years ago, Hallmark aired its first holiday movie marathon. The network’s “Countdown to Christmas”—brimming with predictably cheesy, always snowy, overwhelmingly white holiday cheer—consistently catapults Hallmark to become the most-watched and highest-rated US cable channel in November and December. That success has bred an explosion of new holiday movies, and a slew of questions about representation. Tune in with the Quartz Obsession.

Matters of debate

Fragile masculinity is the biggest obstacle to climate action. Insecure dudes like guzzling gas to flex their manhood.

Startups often start with the wrong people. Founders have to be willing to fire them if they can’t keep up.

“Lab-grown meat” by any other name wouldn’t sell. Industry executives can’t agree on what to call their product.

Surprising discoveries

Scorned creditors want a crypto CEO’s body exhumed. Gerald Cotten apparently took a vast sum of money to his grave last year—but some suspect he faked his own death.

Hermit crabs face human-like inequality. The distribution of the best shells follows a similar pattern to the distribution of human wealth.

Taylor swift called out “the unregulated world of private equity.” The pop queen singled out music financiers who buy and sell artists’ catalogues “as if it’s an app or a shoe line.”

The world’s oldest cave art was just dated and it already faces oblivion. The 44,000-year-old drawings in Sulawesi, Indonesia depict an elaborate hunt.

A Lithuanian airport made a contraband Christmas tree. Security personnel used confiscated knives, scissors, lighters, and nail clippers to make the sharp decoration.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, spacious shells, and decorative blades to Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app on iOS or Android, and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Nicolás Rivero and Steve Mollman.