Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Stock market swoon, US Ebola flight, Netflix vs. HBO, bikers vs. ISIL

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What to watch for today

Putin, Merkel, and Poroshenko break bread. The German, Russian, and Ukrainian leaders are meeting in Milan to discuss whether Russia will resume deliveries of natural gas to Ukraine as winter nears. Ukraine—thanks to its use of surveillance drones—is also accusing Russia of helping separatist forces build up their ranks.

The US counts its barrels. With the price of oil near a four-year low and still falling, people are wondering if there’s a floor. Data on US petroleum inventory and natural gas stores are expected to show that America is pumping more out of the ground than it ever has before.

Europe’s awkward limp continues. Data from the European Central Bank will likely show consumer prices rose just 0.3% year-on-year last month—the 20th straight month of the ECB failing to reach its self-imposed 2% inflation target.

Apple unveils its already-unveiled gadgets. The company is holding an event in California where it’s expected to show off new iPads, a new high-resolution iMac computer, and the next version of its desktop operating system. Shots and specs for the new iPads accidentally appeared on Apple’s site a day early.

While you were sleeping

Hong Kong protests got a second wind. A video allegedly showing police beating an opposition party member brought more protestors to the streets, where they attempted to occupy a key road and block a police station. Hong Kong police responded with more pepper spray.

A feverish Ebola sufferer was cleared to fly. Amber Vinson, the second nurse diagnosed with Ebola in Texas, was erroneously told by US health officials she could fly to Ohio, potentially exposing 132 fellow Frontier Airlines passengers to a risk—albeit low—of contracting the virus. Later today, Dallas will vote on whether to implement a state of disaster in light of the Ebola infections.

A panic in the financial markets sent US stocks plunging and US Treasury yields down below 2%, though the Dow recovered about two-thirds (paywall) of what it lost. Along with a touch of Ebola hysteria, it seems fears of a global slowdown are finally hitting home—Japanese stocks were down more than 2% in morning trading as part of a broader Asian sell-off.

Netflix and HBO stepped into the ring. Time Warner will offer an online-only subscription to HBO in the US, in an attempt to reach the 80 million homes that have broadband but not cable. The long-anticipated move is a direct threat to to Netflix’s online video dominance, and was a well-timed blow: Netflix also released mediocre results for the third quarter and a poor forecast for the fourth, sending its stock down by more than 20%.

Retailers expect a quiet Christmas. Ebay fell short of expectations with a fourth-quarter revenue forecast of less than $5 billion, while Wal-Mart reduced its full-year sales growth to 2-3%, from its previous prediction of 3-5%. Both suggest disappointing sales in the crucial holiday shopping season.

The US tightened its belt. America’s budget deficit fell to below 3% for the first time since 2007 (paywall), but the Congressional Budget Office says economists and investors shouldn’t celebrate just yet: it will likely grow again at the end of next year.

Google touted its latest hardware and software. The latest Android mobile operating system, “Lollipop,” comes with a totally new design. It’ll ship on the $649 Nexus 6 smartphone and the $399 Nexus 9 tablet in November; there’s also a new device for televisions called Nexus Player.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jason Karaian on why low unemployment isn’t necessarily a good thing. “Over the past six years, the average worker’s earnings have grown faster than inflation on only three occasions, according to the monthly data. Earlier this week, midwives, ambulance drivers, and other National Health Service workers staged a strike over pay for the first time in 30 years.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

China’s economic growth is too good to last. The very reason it has defied the odds for so long is also why it can no longer escape them.

Humans were designed to be cyborgs. Compared to other animals, technology is our only advantage.

Stop worrying about Ebola and start worrying about the flu. Get your damn shot already—influenza kills 500,000 people a year.

We don’t know the true story behind MH370. The CEO of Emirates is convinced the Malaysia Airlines plane was under the pilot’s control until the very end.

Public wifi is a public menace. Almost everything and everyone connected to a network—along with personal and financial information—can easily be hacked.

Surprising discoveries

Bad-ass Dutch bikers are fighting ISIL. The “No Surrender” gang is reportedly fighting alongside the Kurdish militia near Mosul.

You can rent a running partner on Taobao. The Chinese e-commerce site offers in-person encouragement for about $2 an hour.

Oktoberfest to the rescue. Beer tents that would have otherwise sat unused in storage will likely be deployed as temporary housing for Syrian refugees in Germany.

What does “Inherent Resolve” even mean? The Pentagon has a terrible name for its mission against ISIL in Syria and Iraq.

Bono has achieved self-awareness. The frontman of U2 admits to having “a touch of megalomania” after forcing the band’s new album on iTunes users.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, biker noms de guerre, and HBO Go passwords to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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