Our editors will be looking ahead today to these developing stories ... Academics explain objections to by-elections plan A group of academics who object to a government proposal to eliminate by-elections in the event of midterm Legislative Council vacancies will explain their position at a press conference today. About 130 academics jointly signed a petition against filling such vacancies with a form of automatic appointment. A consultation period on the issue ends on Saturday. For a day, cars not welcome in 140 mainland cities The mainland will hold its fifth annual 'No Car Day' today in over 140 cities with a population above 500,000. The campaign is part of a world car-free day campaign aiming to reduce exhaust emissions and ease traffic congestion by limiting the number of private vehicles on the roads. People are encouraged to walk, cycle or use public transport on the day. China now has 100 million cars, the government said last week. State councillor heads for France and Britain State Councillor Dai Bingguo will set off to France and Britain today for a six-day trip. Dai will hold bilateral talks with the two countries and attend a China-UK strategic dialogue in Britain. China has been calling for the recognition of its market economy status, but stresses it is not a condition attached to China's support to EU nations Pope visits a Germany hungry for reform Pope Benedict faces a clamour for change as he heads to Germany for his first state visit, with calls for reform on many fronts - from recognising gays to ordaining women to the priesthood. Grievances over the Vatican's 'out of touch' attitudes towards sexuality and the family are likely to underlie the pontiff's visit from Berlin to Freiburg. While he is not expected to make any concessions to calls for the Catholic Church's rules to be modernised, the Holy See is well aware of growing dissent, particularly in Germany, Austria and German-speaking Switzerland. Republicans stage debate in crucial Florida Republican White House hopefuls will lock horns in a debate in the key state of Florida before a weekend straw poll that could foretell who will take on President Barack Obama next year. The Sunshine State could also decide the winner of the November 2012 election: it holds 29 electoral college votes. With 270 needed to win, many experts warn that an Obama loss here would be critical. All eyes will be on Texas Governor Rick Perry, the current front runner, and his nearest rival, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Hong Kong consumer prices in the spotlight With food prices rising, eyes today will be on Hong Kong's consumer price index number for August. The figure in July came in at 7.9 per cent, the sharpest jump in 16 years, and up from 5.6 per cent in June. Also being released today: leading economic indicators for the US from the non-profit business research group, the Conference Board.