Samsung’s reshuffle, Puerto Rico’s deadline, bananapocalypse

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

UK banks get their test results. The Bank of England releases the results of stress tests that predict whether British banks can withstand financial shocks. The country’s seven biggest are expected to pass, but next year’s tests could be tougher.

Japan resumes whaling. After a year of suspended activity, the country will send out its whaling fleet, defying international criticism and a UN court decision. The mission will last until March, and is expected to kill 333 Antarctic minke whales.

Brazil faces some bad GDP news. The economy is expected to contract by more than 1% in the third quarter—its worst performance in nearly two decades and its third consecutive quarterly contraction.

Puerto Rico has to pay up. Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla will decide at the last minute whether the US island territory will make a $354 million debt payment, after it defaulted on part of a loan payment in August. Skipping today’s payment could draw lawsuits; the island’s total debt is $70 billion.

US auto sales perk up. Analysts expect a November sales record, contributing to the best year in a decade. With the help of financing options and holiday deals, consumers are expected to have purchased over 1.3 million vehicles during the month.

While you were sleeping

Samsung switched its mobile chief. Koh Dong-jin was named the South Korean conglomerate’s new head of mobile business, replacing Shin Jong-kyun. Shin was responsible for growing Samsung’s mobile division but it is now struggling against Chinese handsets and Apple.

Vladimir Putin reentered a war of words with Turkey. The Russian president said that Turkey shot down a Russian jet “to protect the oil supply lines” from ISIL. Putin spoke at the Paris climate change summit, after discussing with US president Barack Obama a military strategy for Syria.

Brazil sued BHP Billiton and Vale for $5 billion. The national government is demanding 20 billion reais ($5.2 billion) for the companies’ part in what the government called its worst-ever environmental disaster. The bursting of a dam earlier this month killed 13 and caused major environmental damage.

Burkina Faso’s ex-premier was named president. Roch Marc Christian Kabore won 53.5% of the votes in a general election, the electoral commission confirmed. His rival Zephirin Diabre congratulated Kabore after taking just 21.6% of the vote. Kabore served under former strongman president Blaise Compaore, but later challenged him.

US consumers splurged on “Cyber Monday.” Online retailers are on track to earn over $3 billion in sales from the annual shopping day, passing the milestone for the first time in its 10-year history. According to Adobe, which is tracking sales, the final figure could end up 12% higher than last year.

China’s official manufacturing gauge hit a three-year low. The official purchasing manager’s index fell to 49.6 in November, below the 50 level that separates expansion from contraction. The private Caixin index hit 48.6(pdf), from 48.3 in October. Both have signaled contraction for months, despite efforts to boost the economy.

Quartz markets haiku

Yuan, US dollars

It’s all just data, mere blips

A measure of trust

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on the impending bananapocalypse. “It’s clear the strategies for containing the spread of Panama disease, as it’s known, aren’t working. And since the fungus can’t be killed, it’s likely only a matter of time before it lands in Latin America, where more than three-fifths of the planet’s exported bananas are grown. In other words, the days of the iconic yellow fruit are numbered.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Don’t blame Syria’s civil war on climate change. Attributing violent conflicts to climate patterns is rarely backed up by evidence.

The US heroin crisis was aided and abetted by Big Pharma.Corporations pushed doctors to prescribe painkillers recklessly, and patients got hooked on opioids.

America is too dumb for television news. The liberal and conservative media are both to blame.

Surprising discoveries

A photo of the Pope in Africa has inspired a new hashtag. It looks like the pontiff is spitting rhymes. #PopeBars.

A man dressed as Santa stole a rental helicopter in Brazil. He forced the hired pilot to land and left him tied up.

An upcoming building in Saudi Arabia will reach 1 km into the sky.With 200 floors, and costing $2.2 billion, it will be the world’s tallest.

A UK town is painting yellow stripes on its ponies. To protect them from dangerous drivers, of course.

A group of Canadian thieves stole a tractor full of cheese. They were caught trying to hail a cab.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Canadian cheese, and painted ponies to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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