Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Pistorius sentenced, China GDP, Total CEO killed, Nickelback conspiracy

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What to watch for today

Hong Kong talks it out. Protestors and government officials hold their first negotiations as demonstrations enter their fourth week. Protestors want to elect their own leader over Beijing’s strong objections; Hong Kong’s chief executive says the city’s residents are too poor to allow direct elections.

Hurricane Gonzalo makes European travelers miserable. Heathrow, the busiest airport in Europe, has already cancelled 10% of its flights ahead of expected heavy rain and winds of 120 kph (75 mph).

Yahoo explains its new plan. The struggling web giant details third-quarter results after US markets close, and its chief executive Marissa Mayer is expected to discuss the company’s cost-cutting (paywall) and acquisition strategy after receiving a windfall from the Alibaba IPO.

Counting calories. Coca-Cola will discuss cost-cutting measures that could save up to $1 billion a year. McDonald’s numbers will likely be hit by a Chinese food scandal.

While you were sleeping

Total’s CEO died in a Moscow plane crash… Christophe de Margerie and three crew members were killed when their plane collided with a snow-clearing machine, whose driver was drunk, according to Russian authorities. De Margerie, known as “Big Mustache” for his exuberant facial hair, was an outspoken and unapologetic advocate for oil exploration.

…And Oscar de la Renta died at home. The beloved designer, who made classically glamorous dresses for first ladies, socialites, and Hollywood stars alike, was 82 years old. One of the last dresses he made was for human rights attorney Amal Alamuddin, who recently married an actor.

Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to five years in jail. The South African athlete was found guilty of culpable homicide in the death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. The judge said the sentence was a “balance between retribution, deterrence, and rehabilitation.”

China’s GDP growth slowed to 7.3%. Beijing’s carefully managed economic growth statistics (paywall) signaled that it is committed to reining in debt while still trying maintain control. The lowest growth rate since 2009 was still better than expected, providing a small bump to global financial markets, though it could also raise pressure on the government to roll out new stimulus measures.

Satya Nadella’s karma is in mint condition. The Microsoft CEO, who recently suggested women not ask for raises but depend on “karma” instead, was awarded an annual compensation package worth $84.3 million, mostly in the form of one-time stock awards.

Amazon reached a truce with Simon & Schuster. The online retail giant said its multiyear deal “creates a financial incentive for Simon & Schuster to deliver lower prices.” Separately, Amazon’s new e-reader goes on sale today, and reviewers say the $199 e-ink Kindle Voyage, is the best the company has ever made.

Quartz obsession interlude

John McDuling on Google’s not-so-secret gold nugget. “Google does not currently break out the financial performance for YouTube but analysts at Jefferies recently said they think it could generate $7 billion in revenue in 2015, and become a $30 billion a business in the next few years. Compare that to Google as a whole, which last year raked in $33.9 billion in total revenue, minus commissions to traffic partners, according to FactSet.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Ebola would be more dangerous if it were less deadly. The virus would spread more widely if it didn’t kill its host so quickly.

Nickelback is a western plot to destabilize governments. The Canadian band’s song “Edge of Revolution” encourages civil unrest.

Young Catholics won’t wait for Rome on gay rights. They’ll just stop coming to church.

Led Zeppelin stole “Stairway to Heaven.” The heirs to an obscure 70s band are suing over the “falsification of rock history.”

Only the rich should have sex. Poor people can’t afford to get pregnant.

Surprising discoveries

Introverts shouldn’t drink coffee before a meeting. Their brains aren’t wired to capitalize on it.

There are only six northern white rhinos left. And only one breeding male.

The US military wants to play in sandboxes. They are equipped with Xbox sensors (video) to create customizable 3D terrain maps.

South Korean gamers are rock stars. 40,000 fans filled a stadium to watch gamers game.

Fish invented fornication. New research suggests they did it “sideways, square-dance style” 385 million years ago in Scotland.

Bangalore’s marathon didn’t run smoothly. Irate drivers blocked the course and some runners had to take the train (paywall). 

Reminder: Get a 50% discount on our Next Billion conference in New York on Nov. 5 using the code QZBRIEF.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, sandbox games, and Nickelback conspiracy theories to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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