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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Scotland’s vote results, Alibaba’s unveiling, Larry Ellison out, airplane food delivered

What to watch for today

Scotland gets real. Preliminary results suggest that the “No” vote against independence is receiving more support than anticipated. As of press time “No” is leading with 53.8%, ahead of “Yes” with 46.2%, with 21 of 32 councils reporting. Glasgow supported the “Yes” vote, 53.5%-46.5%.

Alibaba shares the love. The Chinese e-commerce giant will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker “BABA.” The company priced shares in its IPO at $68 after Thursday’s market close; it is expected to raise nearly $21.8 billion on a valuation of $168 billion.

All hail the new iPhone. Apple’s long-awaited iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are out today in Australia, the US, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, and the UK. Customers bought 4 million phones on the first day pre-orders were available, setting a pace to best Apple’s record of 9 million iPhone sales in an opening weekend. Here’s how to decide which one to buy.

Hold onto your volatility hats. Four stock futures and options contracts expire today in a quarterly phenomenon called “quadruple witching,” which often leads to frantic trading and market gyrations. Add to that the market-moving Scottish election results, US stocks hitting all-time highs, and the Alibaba IPO, and the ride looks even rockier.

An independence bid in Barcelona. The Catalan parliament is expected to call for a Nov. 9 vote on independence from Spain. Madrid has said that the referendum is unconstitutional (paywall).

While you were sleeping

The UN Security Council sounded the alarm on Ebola. Ebola is a “threat to international peace and security,” the council said after its first-ever emergency meeting to deal with a public health issue. In Oxford, England, the first human subject began a trial of a GlaxoSmithKline vaccination against Ebola. Meanwhile, eight people, including three doctors and three journalists, were murdered in southeast Guinea near where the outbreak began.

The US Senate approved aid for Syrian rebels. President Obama has been given approval with a vote of 78-22 for his plan to train and arm rebels in their fight against the Islamic State, which just released a new video of a captive British journalist named John Cantlie.

A typhoon shut down Manila. The Philippine capital shuttered its government offices and financial markets as the storm known as “Mario” caused severe flooding.

Japan’s economic outlook got bleaker. The world’s third largest economy downgraded its forecast due to lower consumer consumption, caused by bad weather and a bigger-than-expected impact from a sales tax increase.

SAP buys into the cloud. The German business software giant acquired the online travel expenses company Concur (paywall) for $8.3 billion in an effort to expand its web services offerings to corporations. Seattle-based Concur is a rare survivor of the first dotcom boom.

Microsoft fired 2,100 employees in its second round of layoffs, part of a plan announced in July to cut 18,000 jobs, or 14% of the company’s total workforce. The housecleaning is an attempt to streamline operations after the acquisition of Nokia’s Devices and Services division, which added 25,000 employees to Microsoft’s payroll.

Larry Ellison is out as Oracle’s CEO. The surprise shift is effective immediately. Ellison becomes executive chairman of the board and chief technology officer. Longtime Oracle executives Safra Catz and Mark Hurd will become co-CEOs.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on why Homer Simpson’s beer mantra is a lot like China’s approach to real estate. “[J]ust like alcohol, China’s property construction sector—which [the country] relies on to drive up to a fifth of its GDP—is at once “the cause of, and solution to” if not all, then many, of its economic problems. That’s because even though this over-reliance makes the country’s economy unusually vulnerable to home-sale slumps—and financial risks—the government has in the past rescued its swooning economy by—you guessed it—encouraging more real estate investment.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Vladimir Putin loves rumors. His comments about invading neighboring capitals were taken out of context, but the speculation helps him anyway.

Ken Burns doesn’t understand the Roosevelts. The documentarian’s latest is heavy on character but light on politics.

Midlife crises are biologically coded. We should acknowledge their existence and adjust accordingly.

Interning is the new volunteering. It looks good on a resume, and interns are less prone to flaking out.

Surprising discoveries

You can get airplane food delivered to your house, for some reason. German subscribers get a weekly business class meal—this week it’s “Arabic seafood” or panserotti with porcini mushrooms.

Wal-Mart Mexico is being investigated for holding a cockfight. A spokesman said the roosters were unarmed and uninjured.

South Koreans are splurging on job application mugshots. Some recruiters believe that photos trump other resume details.

Dogs can be pessimists. Though it’s unclear how common it is to see the water bowl as half-empty.

North Korea wrote a 50,000-page report on its human rights record. It concluded that things are going pretty well. The UN disagrees.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, gourmet airline meals, and ethical cockfights to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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