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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Uber’s European woes, Italians find more jobs, untouchable Mars water

What to watch for today

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.

…while London begins its own Uber crackdown. The city’s transport body begins a 12-week consultation on potential new rules, including a mandatory five-minute wait, a ban on showing live cars within an app, and forcing all private-hire firms to allow booking seven days in advance. All to protect the historic black cab trade. An Uber-sponsored petition against these changes has topped 70,000 people.

US lawmakers vote to avert an Oct. 1 government shutdown. Despite attempts by some Republicans to block a crucial spending bill unless abortion provider 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

Volkswagen’s share price finally caught a break. The German auto maker’s share price was up by 2.8% in morning trading, after China halved its tax on small cars, and a Wall Street Journal report suggested the company could evade criminal charges in the US (paywall). But at least one US county is suing VW, which admitted to cheating on emissions tests, for $100 million; the company has lost over $30 billion in value in recent days.

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.

Italian unemployment reached a new low. The jobless figure fell in August to 11.9%, from 12% in July, beating expectations that it would remain unchanged. That’s the lowest it has been in two-and-a-half years and will be a boost for prime minister Matteo Renzi, whose government predicted unemployment wouldn’t reach 11.9% until 2016.

Deflation returned to the euro zone. Consumer prices in the economic bloc dropped by 0.1% in September from a year earlier, mainly on the back of an 8.9% drop in energy prices. Prices for food, alcohol, and services each rose by more than 1%.

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.

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 how we say hello to life on Mars to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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