🌍 China’s $1 trillion deficit

Plus: Elon Musk will probably certainly buy Twitter this week.
Children play basketball in front of a housing complex by Chinese property developer Evergrande in Beijing on July 28, 2022.
Children play basketball in front of a housing complex by Chinese property developer Evergrande in Beijing on July 28, 2022.
Photo: Noel Celis/AFP (Getty Images)

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

China’s budget deficit reached a record high. It hit nearly $1 trillion, according to Bloomberg calculations, as a real estate crisis and tax rebates have cut into government funds.  

Rishi Sunak delivered his first speech as prime minister. The UK’s first non-white prime minister, and its richest, set the country’s “profound economic crisis” as top priority, and has selected a cabinet with some familiar faces.

Apple will audit its suppliers’ net-zero progress. CEO Tim Cook has set a 2030 deadline for suppliers to hit carbon neutrality. The tech company has also clarified its App Store rules on cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

The EU pushed its energy plan decision back a month. Agreement on a gas price cap sits at the center of debate as the bloc seeks to weather the winter while cutting energy supplies from Russia.

Five explosions were detected in Russian waters. Finnish seismologists reported they were identified last week in the Baltic Sea, and that the cause of the blasts is unknown.

India fined Google $113 million. Antitrust authorities hit the Android-maker with a second penalty this month, this time for allegedly forcing third-party developers to use its in-app payment system. 

What to watch for

Elon Musk might finally buy Twitter this week, capping a six-month saga that ruffled just a few feathers. But even as the Oct. 28 deadline to complete the $44 billion takeover looms, nothing’s over until the last Tweeter tweets.

Firstly, there is a chance Musk refuses to close the deal, and the whole thing goes to trial—a case Twitter is confident it would win. Then there’s the question of financing. The richest man in the world is getting about $13 billion through debt financing from banks and $7 billion from equity investors—should the money fall through, again, the case would head to trial.

Finally there’s the prospect of a national security review. But as these reviews usually affect deals involving foreign buyers and key US strategic interests, Musk’s Twitter takeover isn’t an obvious candidate. If a review occurred, however, it could force some backers to pull out and keep this wild ride alive.

Healthcare as a weapon of war

As peace talks to end a two-year war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region finally start in South Africa, the situation remains extreme. At least 600,000 people have been killed since the civil war broke out between local forces and the Ethiopian government, along with its allies in Eritrea.

Healthcare has been a casualty of the war, with services so disrupted in the region that there is hardly any access to treatment for common conditions. Illnesses like diabetes and hypertension “are now a death sentence in Tigray,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization and Tigray native, said on Oct. 19.

As Quartz senior reporter Annalisa Merelli explains, destruction of Ethiopia’s healthcare infrastructure is being used as a weapon of war against some 6 million people in the region.

A dead serious celebration

On Nov. 1 and 2, Mexicans will celebrate their version of All Souls and All Saints days, Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Like any holiday, Day of the Dead is more complicated than it appears. Its prehispanic origins are not as clear-cut as some make them out to be. And almost from the start, the holiday has been as much an occasion to sell goods and services like masses, sweets, and more recently, Doritos, as one to commemorate deceased relatives.

Quartz’s next Weekly Obsession email will cross over into the underworld to explore the origins of the Day of the Dead, why there’s no one right way to mark it, and how it even inspired James Bond.

Get the Weekly Obsession in your inbox each Wednesday by signing up today! And while you’re at it, grab a Quartz membership—we’ve got a sweet deal for you.

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Surprising discoveries

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The lid’s off Major League Pickleball. Expansion fees for the 2023 season have hit $1 million.

Bug splats on windshields are becoming less common. The decline may be a symptom of a larger ecological problem.

Don’t underestimate a rat wearing a tiny backpack. One company hopes rodents can help with search and rescue in disaster zones.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, Bono ballads, and rat packs to hi@qz.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Sofia Lotto Persio, Scott Nover, Annalisa Merelli, Ana Campoy, Julia Malleck, and Morgan Haefner.