Black Friday begins, #Japan ponders missiles, tuskless elephants

Good morning, Quartz readers!

WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY AND OVER THE WEEKEND

Russia and the EU talk energy. Russia’s energy minister and his EU counterpart will discuss “energy cooperation.” Russia wants tosend more of its gas through Germany’s Opal pipeline to Europe. The backdrop, though, is the EU-Russia face-off over Ukraine, whose president was in Brussels this week trying to wrangle more supportfor his embattled government.

European finance ministers continue Greece bailout talks.Representatives from Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands will meet with IMF officials in Berlin to discuss the Greek debt crisis. The euro zone is aiming for a new agreement on fiscal reform by Dec. 5.

A less-crazy Black Friday in US stores. The traditional start of holiday shopping in the US is expected to break records in terms of sales, but fewer Americans will line up at brick-and-mortar stores, buying online instead. Some major retailers will be closed for business—trying to generate goodwill by giving employees the day off instead.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING

Japan criticized Russia’s deployment of missiles on disputed islands… Prime minister Shinzo Abe called the situation “regrettable.” Russian media reported this week that anti-ship missiles are now operational on the islands, called the southern Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan.

…And Japan moved closer to a US missile defense shield.Defense minister Tomomi Inada said Japan is “investigating future systems for intercepting missiles.” Inada will visit Guam next monthto inspect the US-made Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system. South Korea has already agreed to deploy the technology.

Colombia signed a revised peace deal with FARC rebels. Thenew agreement will be put to Congress for approval rather than to the public, which rejected a previous one in October. The deal requires the FARC to hand over all its assets to repay victims, but opponents say the changes are “cosmetic.”

Russia indicated it won’t cut oil production. Energy minister Alexander Novak said the most it would do is hold current output steady next year—which, he argued, amounts to a reduction in light of previous plans to boost production. Saudi Arabia wants fellow OPEC members to squeeze the oil supply to prop up prices (paywall).

QUARTZ OBSESSION INTERLUDE

Aamna Mohdin on the economic case for the US granting amnesty to undocumented immigrants. “In 1986, Ronald Reagan gave amnesty to nearly 3 million undocumented immigrants… There’s evidence that shows undocumented workers went on to get better jobs and higher wages in the years after legalization. A previous study suggests there was a 15% increase in productivity after legalization in 1986, followed by another 10% to 12% increase in productivity when migrants became citizens.” Read more here.

MATTERS OF DEBATE

Don’t lie to your children about Santa Claus. Such an elaborate, long-lasting deception subtly but permanently damages family trust.

Self-control is a myth. Willpower can’t be strengthened, so try toavoid situations that call for it.

India is displaying classic signs that foreshadow fascism.Under Narendra Modi, the country is checking off items on Umberto Eco’s classic list of features of “Ur-Fascism.”

QUARTZ ANNOUNCEMENT

Are you stocking up on holiday gifts for your loved ones today? We also have presents on the brain, and will be sharing daily “gifts” with readers for the month of December. Be sure to sign up to start receiving yours in next Thursday’s Daily Brief so you don’t miss the first one.

SURPRISING DISCOVERIES

Mad Shelia, a cheap knockoff of Mad Max: Fury Road, is streaming in China. It’s a bit of a parody, a bit of an homage, and a whole lot of taking someone else’s creative work.

More African elephants are being born without tusks. Ivory poaching may be an evolutionary pressure resulting in survival of the tuskless.

The Vatican is launching a Tinder-like app for confessing sins.It matches users with nearby places to confess and attend Mass.

Japan is using ramen to lure elderly drivers off roads for good.Police arranged for a chain of noodle restaurants to give discounts to senior citizens who relinquish their driving licenses.

That bling-y picture of Nigel Farage and Donald Trump is raising thousands for charity. The photographer sold the rights to the image and is donating his share of the proceeds.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, confession apps, and free ramen to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our iPhone app.

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