Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Obama’s Ebola czar, Apple’s OK computers, Google’s old age, rooting for R2D2

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Vladimir Putin talks gas, for real this time. The Russian president was due to meet German chancellor Angela Merkel last night in Milan to discuss Russia’s gas supply to Ukraine, but only arrived shortly before midnight after attending a military parade in Serbia. Formal talks are now set to begin at 8am local time.

The US raises the roof. A report from the US commerce department is expected to show that the country’s new housing construction climbed in September, after several months of decline; US mortgage rates remain historically low.

High heels in a slowdown. Luxury footwear maker Jimmy Choo is going public, reportedly seeking to raise $280 million. That is, if tough market conditions don’t force the company to delay its offering.

Trump gets trumped. Trump Entertainment may close its Taj Mahal casino in New Jersey over a fight with unionized workers about health care and pensions. The decision hangs on a bankruptcy judge’s ruling.

While you were sleeping

Hong Kong police dismantled another Occupy site. Barricades, tents, and umbrellas were removed from a protest site blocking a major Kowloon thoroughfare early this morning, forcing protestors to vacate the road. Some protestors said they will occupy the area again—especially if potential talks between student and government leaders go awry.

The West stepped up its Ebola preparations. US president Barack Obama said he is open to appointing an Ebola “czar” to coordinate the fight against the disease, while in Europe health officials called for more screening in West Africa (paywall) after suspected cases were spotted in Spain and France. Obama ruled out a travel ban, and much of Europe is undecided about the need for screening in domestic airports.

Apple’s new gizmos. The company announced a new $500 iPad Air that’s 18% thinner than the previous model, a $400 iPad mini with a fingerprint reader, a $2,500 27-inch iMac with a 5K display, and a $500 Mac Mini at today’s product event. It also announced that Apple Pay—the payments system inside the new iPhone—will launch on Oct. 20 as an update to iOS, but are all these iPads really the best way to go?

Tiger Airways sold its Australian unit for a dollar. Virgin Australia bought the 40% of the budget carrier’s local unit it didn’t already own for A$1 ($0.88), and said it plans to make the unit profitable within two years by exploiting economies of scale. Separately, Singapore Airlines will raise its stake in the remainder of Tiger Airlines, making it a 55%-owned subsidiary.

Google is getting old. The search giant’s stock price fell after its quarterly earnings fell short of analyst expectations. Investors have doubts about Google’s future as its users move from desktops to mobile devices—even though the lackluster results may by hiding some rising stars.

Quartz obsession interlude

Daniel Medina on the economic perils of more extreme weather. “The polar vortex brought record-low temperatures and high snow totals to large swaths of the US last winter and had a chilling effect on the economy too, stagnating growth. The US economy’s real GDP fell to an annualized pace of -2% in the first quarter in February just as the polar vortex was in full swing, and economists largely attributed the drop to the extreme weather.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The future of robotics is either R2D2 or C-3PO. And humanity better hope that R2 wins out.

A little panic is a good thing. Maybe it’s time we stopped being so nonchalant about Ebola.

The nuclear deal with Iran is more important than ISIL. If the world can only pick one battle, it should be Iran’s nuclear program.

If you want to freeze my eggs, at least also offer me daycare. Companies need to stop treating motherhood like a problem.

Pakistan has Pakistan to thank for its problems. Neither India nor foreign extremists are the root cause.

Surprising discoveries

Scientists made a one-atom thick electrical generator. It could make clothes a new power source.

Rap is joining rock in middle age. A radio station in Houston is switching to a classic hip-hop format.

Saudi Arabian teachers get massive bonuses. The government lavishes the good ones with luxury cars and cash.

Stomach bacteria can get jetlag, too. Long distance flights increase microbes that are linked to obesity, so skip that business class ice cream sundae.

Drinking soda ages you. People who down the sweet stuff every day have DNA that appears 4.6 years older than people who don’t.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, classic hip-hop, and business class ice cream sundaes to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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