Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Uber on trial, Google’s new gadgets, Christmas drones

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What to watch for today

Toshiba shareholders meet in Tokyo. In the wake of the electronics firm’s massive bookkeeping scandal, investors are being urged to reject the re-election of ex-president Masashi Muromachi and two board members, who presided over an extended period of fraudulent accounting (more below).

Uber executives stand trial in France. Two top executives are slated to appear in court on charges that UberPop, the ride-hailing giant’s low-cost offering, is an illegal taxi service. Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty and Thibaud Simphal could face up to two years in prison.

US lawmakers vote to avert an Oct. 1 government shutdown. Despite attempts by some Republicans to block a crucial spending bill unless pro-choice group Planned Parenthood is de-funded, the Senate will vote on a provisional measure to extend current government funding plans through the end of the year. The bill is widely expected to pass.

Bank of America submits a new “stress test” plan. The Federal Reserve rejected the bank’s submission in March—its third stress test gaffe in five years—and barred it from issuing dividends or stock buybacks. BofA investors will be sitting tight for the next 75 days as the Fed evaluates the new plan.

While you were sleeping

Google announced a host of new products. The internet conglomerate launched two new smartphones, the 5.2-inch Nexus 5X and the 5.7-inch Nexus 6P, both of which will run on the company’s new operating system, Marshmallow. Google also showed off a new Chromecast device, an audio streaming gadget, and a new tablet.

Axel Springer bought Business Insider. The German publishing house agreed to pay $343 million to raise its stake in the click-magnet business news website from 9% to 97%, after failing to purchase the Financial Times. While the Business Insider deal involves less cash, the price-to-revenue cost is significantly higher than the purchase of the FT. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, owns the remaining 3%.

Toshiba took out billions more in credit. The beleaguered Japanese electronics giant said the 400-billion yen injection would be used to increase liquidity. An accounting scandal that could result in a raft of fines (paywall) forced the company to cut its reported profit by $1.3 billion. Toshiba has lost $6 billion in market value since it pulled its earnings forecast in May.

Chinese shoppers got upbeat. The Westpac MNI consumer sentiment index rose to 118.2 in September, from 116.5 in August, hitting the highest level since May 2014. Interest rate cuts and other stimulus measures appear to have buoyed sentiment despite a stock market rout.

Ralph Lauren resigned as CEO of his namesake company. Lauren, who had held the position for 48 years, will stay on as chairman and chief creative officer. Former Old Navy executive Stefan Larsson will take over as chief executive of the fashion house, whose shares have fallen 44% this year (paywall).

Quartz obsession interlude

Akshat Rathi on why we can’t look for life on Mars where we are most likely to find it. “Even if NASA was 100% certain that there is liquid water on Mars, it could not do anything about it. The world’s space powers are bound by rules agreed to under the 1967 Outer Space Treaty that forbid anyone from sending a mission, robot or human, close to a water source in the fear of contaminating it with life from Earth.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Stop telling obese people to whip themselves into shape. We don’t actually have much control over our weight.

We should champion ad-blockers. Eventually, they’ll compel the advertising industry to curtail its worst practices.

The International Criminal Court is too reliant on witnesses. Rampant witness tampering is threatening its very ability to function.

Donald Trump isn’t going away. Attempts by the media and politicians of all stripes to dismiss him as a joke have completely failed.

The government should pay people so they aren’t poor. Universal basic income is a solution to poverty that everyone can live with.

Surprising discoveries

Your expensive whiskey is artificially colored. A flavorless additive known as E150a is legally allowed in the production of Scotch.

Assembling Ikea furniture remains out of reach of robots. Efforts to build a chair-assembling robot have so far failed to bear fruit.

Deloitte no longer wants to know which university its job applicants attended. Recruiters will ignore alma maters to boost diversity and social mobility.

One million drones are expected to be gifted in the US this Christmas. The aviation authority is terrified of the potential accidents they could cause.

There’s a name for jolting awake as you fall asleep. Called a “hypnic jerk,” it’s caused by a tussle between different parts of your brain.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, furniture-assembling robots, and artificially colored whiskey to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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