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The first draft of the COP26 deal is published

The preliminary deal calls for more intense emissions-cutting measures by the end of 2022.

A man holds a sign that says, Climate promises must be kept! at a climate protest in London.
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Here’s what you need to know

The first draft of the COP26 agreement is out. Two days before the end of the climate summit in Glasgow, the preliminary deal calls for more intense emissions-cutting measures by the end of 2022.

General Electric is splitting into three companies. The new units—focusing on healthcare, aviation, and energy—will be publicly listed, and the breakup shows how difficult it is for large conglomerates to remain viable.

Electric-vehicle maker Rivian is expected to go public today. The Amazon-backed company has yet to turn a profit, but after pricing shares at $78, it is valued at $66.5 billion.

The US will spend $17 billion to update its ports and waterways. According to CNBC, $4 billion will go towards supply chain holdups within the next 60 days. The $1 trillion infrastructure bill also makes crypto tax-reporting failures a felony.

Russia finally increased natural gas supplies to Europe. Energy supply companies, badly hit by the shortage, are welcoming the fall in prices.

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What to watch for

Starting today, union ballots will be mailed to Starbucks baristas at three coffee shops in the Buffalo area of New York. They will vote on whether to establish the first-ever unionized corporate-owned Starbucks locations in the US. The ballots are due Dec. 8, with the vote count the following day.

1.2%: Share of employees in the US food and services industry that are union members

11.5 million: Employees in the US foodservice and restaurant industry, about 6.5% below February 2020 levels

1: Corporate-owned Starbucks store that is unionized in Canada

2: Number of previous union campaigns the company has faced in the US, including in the early 2000s in New York and in 2019 in Philadelphia

$15: The minimum hourly wage for Starbucks workers by next summer

~80: Starbucks workers who are eligible to vote in the Buffalo election

Seoul is joining the metaverse

On Nov. 3, Seoul announced a plan to make a variety of public services and cultural events available in the metaverse, an immersive internet that relies on virtual reality. The metropolitan government will develop its own metaverse platform by the end of 2022. By the time it is fully operational in 2026, it will host a variety of public functions including a virtual mayor’s office, as well as spaces serving the business sector; a fintech incubator; and a public investment organization.

The 3.9 billion won ($3.3 million) investment is part of mayor Oh Se-hoon’s 10-year plan for the city, which aims to improve social mobility among citizens and raise the city’s global competitiveness. It taps into South Korea’s Digital New Deal, a nationwide plan to embrace digital and AI tools to improve healthcare, central infrastructure, and the economy in its recovery from the economic crisis caused by covid-19.

The future of VR, according to Facebook

Meanwhile, Facebook’s rebrand to Meta was just the latest step in the company’s pivot to the metaverse. A close look at Facebook’s slew of VR acquisitions hints at what it thinks the future will look like:

🎮 The company has snapped up five VR game studios in the last three years alone. In June, it bought BigBox VR, the studio behind Population: One, a.k.a. “the Fortnite of VR.”

👯 All of the studios emphasize multiplayer games. Meta also sees the promise of social VR in Supernatural, a workout app with a strong Facebook community, which it bought a day after the company rebrand.

🤳 Facebook is beginning to invest in user-generated content for metaverse-related purposes. It announced a $10 million creator fund for Horizon, its social VR world, in October.

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Surprising discoveries

Heinz can now make ketchup on Mars—in theory. The food maker used tomatoes grown in soil similar to the red planet’s to make the condiment.

Earth’s first continents are much older than we thought. Rock sediments show the continents rose out of the ocean more than 3 billion years ago—700 million years earlier than previously dated.

New Zealand seals are making ill-timed appearances. Once decimated by hunters, a rising seal population has meant more blubbery surprises at kid’s soccer games and on golf courses.

London cabbies’ brains may shed light on Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers are interested in how drivers remember routes on about 26,000 streets.

Hangovers: There’s an ancient amethyst ring for that. At least that’s what archeologists think a purple jewel, found at the site of the Byzantine era’s largest winery, was used to prevent.

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