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Trump’s “concession,” Asia-Pacific trade deal, winning pigeons

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Asia-Pacific countries formed a historic trade pact. The deal, which took years to negotiate and is the first to include China, Japan, and South Korea together, covers nearly a third of the global economy. Economists predict it could add up to $200 billion to the world’s economic output over the next decade.

Trump “concedes”—then takes it back. In a tweet, US president Donald Trump acknowledged Joe Biden won the election, but only because it was “rigged.” A few minutes later, Trump backtracked, denying the message was a concession. Meanwhile, thousands of Trump supporters rallied in the US capital, at times violently clashing with counter-protesters. Biden’s inauguration does not require Trump to accept the election’s outcome.

China found coronavirus on frozen meat. Authorities in Jinan and two other cities said it discovered the virus on beef, tripe, pork, and their packaging imported from countries including Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina; China is the world’s largest buyer of beef. The World Health Organization says the risk of infection from contaminated food is very low.

An Al Qaeda leader was killed in Iran. The identity of a man killed by motorcycle assassins on Aug. 7 in Tehran was revealed to be Abu Muhammad al-Masri, Al Qaeda’s second highest-ranking leader, the New York Times reported. The assassins were reportedly Israeli operatives working at the request of US intelligence. Iran denied that the killing took place.

The death toll for Typhoon Vamco climbs. The typhoon left 67 dead in the Philippines after making landfall with winds up to 150 miles per hour. Twelve people are still missing, while nearly 30,000 homes have been damaged. Vietnam ordered 460,000 people to evacuate as the typhoon moved toward its eastern coast.

What to watch for this week

Monday: China releases October retail sales; Japan and Thailand report third quarter GDP; International Olympic Committee chief visits Tokyo; United Airlines pilots free transatlantic coronavirus testing. Earnings: Vodafone, Tyson Foods, Baidu, NCSoft.

Tuesday: Prime ministers of Australia and Japan meet in Tokyo; Russia hosts BRICS virtual summit; Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg testify in the US Senate over blocking Hunter Biden articles; US reports retail sales. Earnings: Walmart, Nio, Home Depot, Experian, easyJet.

Wednesday: Japan releases trade data; Thailand holds monetary policy committee meeting; UK reports inflation data. Earnings: NVIDIA, Lowe’s, Target, TJX.

Thursday: EU holds a summit seen as the deadline to draft Brexit deal; US reports initial jobless claims and existing home sales. Earnings: Macy’s.

Friday: Malaysia hosts virtual APEC summit; Japan reports CPI and flash PMI; UK reports retail sales; economic ministers from Taiwan visit Washington DC; Macau begins its (much-smaller) Grand Prix; BTS releases new album Be. Earnings: Williams-Sonoma.

Saturday: Virtual G20 summit begins.

Sunday: First no-quarantine flights scheduled between Singapore and Hong Kong.

Charting global air pollution

The day after Diwali, air in India’s cities is full of smoke from celebratory firecrackers—contributing to already-high levels of air pollution. According to real-time measures of air quality assembled by IQAir, a Swiss air technology company, Delhi had the world’s worst air quality on Nov. 15. The city hit a record-high on the air quality index on Nov. 10.

Delhi isn’t the only place suffering: Based on a 2019 average, 14 of the 20 cities with the world’s worst air were in India. Looking for an escape? The world’s best air on Nov. 15 was in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Traveling without moving

Covid-19 is surging in spots around the globe, including many places on the brink of holiday travel season. In the US, health departments are issuing guidance around traveling and eating together. But these extra precautions aren’t accessible to all—mostly because of the time required to isolate before and after. It’s just one more way that Covid-19 has disproportionately harmed people of color.

🚘  Would you risk traveling to see family?

Yes, I’m following all the guidance.

No, why risk their health?

I would, but I’m unable to adhere to the guidance.

Yes, everyone is overreacting.

How cool companies stay cool

A photo of the original red and black Air Jordan sneaker
Image copyright: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

Very few brands manage to navigate coolness alongside an extreme rise in popularity, and two have done it more successfully than anyone else: Nike and Apple. Both maintain their credibility by preserving some of what originally earned them acolytes, while constantly tinkering with new ideas to stay relevant. Read how these two titans have kept their edge for decades, and what other companies might learn from them, in our latest field guide on the new meaning of cool.

✦ You know what’s actually the coolest? A seven-day free trial of Quartz membership. (This offer does not apply to Quartz Japan memberships.)

Surprising discoveries

Mask-wearing gets a new robotic enforcer in Japan. Equipped with cameras and sensors, a robot in one Osaka shop will ask customers to mask up if it detects they’re not wearing a face covering.

A racing pigeon set a new world record. But not for speed: The two-year-old Belgian pigeon, named New Kim, sold for a record $1.89 million after two wealthy Chinese collectors bid up her auction price.

Justice for papal blood. Italian police identified the man they believe stole a vial of blood of Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005.

Man’s best friend is memorialized in gold. Turkmenistan’s president erected a 19-foot-high, golden statue of his favorite breed, the Central Asian shepherd, in the middle of a traffic circle in the country’s capital.

Archaeologists uncovered a trove of 2,500-year-old sarcophagi. They found at least 100 coffins and 40 gilded statues in the Saqqara burial ground in Egypt—and expect to find more. The artifacts will eventually be moved to museums in Cairo.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, gilded dog statues, and helpful robots to hi@qz.com. Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our iOS app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Adam Epstein, Katie Palmer, Manavi Kapur, and Katherine Ellen Foley.

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