🌏 China and Saudi Arabia get chummy

Plus: ‘Tis the season to be striking

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

China and Saudi Arabia cemented ties. The country’s leaders met yesterday (Dec. 8) in Riyadh and signed several deals including a cloud computing and internet agreement with Huawei.

A massive fraud trial began in Germany. Former executives of the payment company Wirecard are standing trial in a case involving €1.9 billion ($2 billion) in missing funds.

The EU’s top court ruled Google must remove inaccurate data. The search engine will be required to delete results about users in the EU if the information can be proven false.

The US and Russia carried out a prisoner swap. US basketball player Brittney Griner has been freed in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

New crypto tax rules are coming to the EU. Proposed legislation will mandate tax reporting for all crypto companies within the bloc, including non-EU operators with EU customers.

Construction resumed at India’s first transshipment port. Work on the $900 million Adani Group project had stopped amid protests by displaced residents in the southern state of Kerala.

US regulators sued to block Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard. The Federal Trade Commission said the deal would give the Xbox console maker an unfair advantage in the industry. 

What to watch for

Tinseltown has little Christmas cheer to offer cinemagoers this holiday season. The one film featuring Father Christmas in US movie theaters, Violent Night, is no romcom or kids’ film. The Santa-Claus-meets-John-Wick gory, dark comedy, released on Dec. 2 and starring David Harbour of Stranger Things, is an R-rated slasher.

Apple’s Spirited, a musical comedy based on A Christmas Carol starring Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds, got a theatrical release on Nov. 11 before landing on Apple TV+ a week later in time for Thanksgiving. This too was an exception: Most Christmas movies this season are going straight to streaming.

But what the box office lacks in elves and grinches will be made up for in plenty of blue aliens. Avatar: The Way of Water, the highly anticipated sequel to James Cameron’s Avatar, the highest grossing movie of all time, hits the big screen worldwide on Dec. 16.

‘Tis the season to be striking

Britons are preparing for a holiday season of delayed packages, canceled trains, and medical shortages, as hundreds of thousands of workers plan to walk off the job amid a nationwide cost of living crisis.

Some form of strike is scheduled for nearly every day from now until the end of December, in a wave of worker action that is expected to be the largest in the UK since the late 1980s. The calendar below depicts the chaos, but may not show the true extent of upcoming walkouts as unions continue to formulate plans. Just this week, Border Force, which runs passport checks at UK airports, announced a strike around Christmas and New Year’s Day.

The main demand across various categories of workers is a pay raise in line with, or greater than, inflation. With UK inflation currently at 11.1%, this is a sticking point for many negotiations.

Image for article titled 🌏 China and Saudi Arabia get chummy
Graphic: Amanda Shendruk

A 🤖 hasn’t written this email—yet

This week, ChatGPT, a text-generator built by the artificial intelligence firm OpenAI, held the internet in a thrall. The bot is activated when the user feeds it a question, such as, “How would I start a Quartz Weekend Brief about ChatGPT?” And then it spits out a pretty structured, formulaic answer.

For all the hype the technology generated, the truth is, ChatGPT isn’t a good writer. But that’s OK—all ChatGPT needs to be is good enough. Good enough to signal that, not very far down the line, a descendant of ChatGPT could very well turn out an email like this one. At that point, we’ll be in trouble, to be sure. But not yet.

✦ We’re exploring the current limitations and potential pathways of ChatGPT in our next Weekend Brief (we did indeed write it). You’ll need a Quartz membership to get the email, which you can snag today at 50% off the usual price.

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Surprising discoveries

Everyone in South Korea is about to get younger. Who knew legal standardization could be so flattering?

Seabirds inspired a faster method of interstellar travel. Forget warp speed, what a spaceship really needs is “dynamic soaring.”

Drowned denim is bringing a whole new meaning to pirate booty. A pair of jeans from an 1857 shipwreck sold for $95,000.

US hunters got the Taylor Swift Ticketmaster treatment. Demand for 29,000 out-of-state tags led Idaho’s online registration system to crash and admit “hi, I’m the problem, it’s me.”

Dyson set the price for a breath of fresh air. Remember the company’s cyborg noise-canceling headphones that also purify air? They’ve officially been priced at $950 a pair.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, bureaucratic skin care, and ocean-washed jeans 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, Diego Lasarte, Aurora Almendral, Julia Malleck, and Morgan Haefner.