Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—US shutdown shenanigans, Italy’s government teeters, Cuban on trial, sleepy airline pilots

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What to watch for today

Last-minute attempts to avert a US government shutdown are likely to fail, after the Republican-dominated House rejected a spending bill this weekend that would have kept the government running after midnight on MondayPublic workers, foreign governments, and people with the flu will feel the effects the most.

Italy’s government on the brink. Silvio Berlusconi threw Italy into chaos, again, ordering the five ministers from his center-right party to quit the governing coalition. Prime Minister Enrico Letta will hold a confidence vote on Wednesday.

Twitter plans to make its IPO filing public this week. A Quartz exclusive: Twitter’s goal is to begin trading, likely on the New York Stock Exchange, before Thanksgiving.

Mark Cuban’s insider-trading trial begins. The tech billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner is facing charges filed five years ago for a trade he made in 2004, allegedly using insider knowledge to sell off shares in before they fell.

BP’s civil trial begins its second phase. The British oil company faces billion of dollars in fines for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico. At issue: the total amount of oil that was discharged during the 87-day disaster.

The US defense secretary is in South Korea. Chuck Hagel visited the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea and is expected to discuss the eventual transfer of military control to Seoul. He heads to Japan on Wednesday.

Over the weekend

Shanghai’s free-trade zone opened with a splash of cold water. Prime minister Li Keqiang, a champion of more open economic policies, conspicuously stayed away from the opening ceremony, a sign the government wants to lower expectations. Here’s our round-up of the knowns and unknowns about how the zone will function.

European inflation declined to 1.1 percent in September from 1.3 percent in August, giving the European Central Bank more room to maneuver.

The CEO of Italy’s second-biggest bank resigned. Intesa Sanpaolo retail division boss Carlo Messina will replace Enrico Tommaso Cucchiani, who clashed with shareholders over attempts to reduce costs.

Korea’s industrial output grew at its fastest pace in nine months..Strong mobile phone and auto production sent industrial numbers up 1.8% in August from the previous month and 3.3% year-on-year, signalling a broader recovery (paywall) in Asia’s fourth largest economy

…While China’s factory sector only grew slightly. The HSBC Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell well short of expectations by barely climbing to 50.2 this month from 50.1 in August. (A number above 50 indicate growth.)

Two successes for commercial spaceflight. Orbital Sciences Corporation became only the second commercial firm to send a supply vessel to the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the first such firm, SpaceX, tested out a new version of its Falcon 9 rocket, whose payload satellite included a prototype of what could become a super-fast digital courier service.

Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang set a new world record in the marathon. The 31-year-old’s time in Berlin was two hours, three minutes, twenty-three seconds.

Quartz obsession interlude

Christopher Mims on why digital motion sickness will be the occupational disease of the 21st century. “The better technology gets, the more likely it is to give you a headache or make you throw up. The trend is inescapable: Whether it’s videogames, Apple’s latest mobile operating system, 3D movies and television, or Google Glass, a portion of the population—basically, anyone predisposed to motion sickness—is going to spend their sunset years, when this kind of technology is ubiquitous, in serious discomfort.” Read more here.

Matters for debate

The leaking of an Al Qaeda plot was more damaging than Edward Snowden. After a terrorist “conference call” was revealed in the media, Ayman al-Zawahri’s group stopped using a monitored communications channel.

Dave Eggers doesn’t get Silicon Valley. The 43-year-old’s new book is about the pitfalls of social media in the age of Google and Facebook, but Eggers doesn’t understand technology—and doesn’t want to.

Big Pharma keeps meth cooks in business. The drug industry is fighting to keep methamphetamine ingredients available over the counter.

Rouhani is playing Obama. Iran’s overtures to the United States are only intended to buy time to build nuclear weapons.

Glass floors are worse than glass ceilings. Poor kids climbing the ladder requires rich kids sliding down the chute.

Surprising discoveries

China loves Breaking Bad. The US cable drama, which aired its series finale on Sunday night, is called “jueming dushi (绝命毒师),” which means something like “the doomed drug master.”

Fill’er up with E. coli. South Korean scientists have turned genetically modified bacterium into gasoline.

What all of Facebook’s users look like, combined. A designer created a single page made up of 1.2 billion profile photos. It looks, well, gray.

More than half of British pilots admit falling asleep in the cockpit. And nearly a third of those said they woke up to find the other pilot also asleep, according to a survey. We assume it’s not just Brits.

China has blocked the delivery of 1,600 Belgian racing pigeons in a customs spat. The birds are popular with Chinese enthusiasts; a recent shipment included the world’s most expensive bird—$400,000 for Bolt, named after Usain.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, sleepy pilots, and racing pigeons to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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