Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Volkswagen’s testimony, Deutsche Bank’s loss, anti-asteroid probes

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What to watch for today

Volkswagen’s top US executive testifies before Congress. Michael Horn, CEO of VW America, will answer “initial questions” about the automaker’s emissions cheating scandal. The Senate finance committee is also investigating whether the company’s clean energy tax credits were granted under false pretenses.

The Bank of England weighs an interest rate hike. UK central bankers are expected to keep the rate at 0.5%, as inflation remains weak. Separately, the US Federal Reserve is publishing the minutes from its September meeting, when it decided to keep US interest rates steady for now.

The US House of Representatives chooses its next speaker. Republicans vote to pick the successor to John Boehner, who announced his resignation last month. Hard-line conservative lawmakers who pushed for Boehner’s ouster doubt that frontrunner Kevin McCarthy will be any more effective.

NATO discusses Russia. Defense ministers meet in Brussels to talk about Russia’s aggressive military moves, including its engagement in Syria and incursions into Turkish airspace. Baltic NATO members are also asking for more support to fend off a resurgent Russian military.

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund meet in Peru. The groups’ joint annual meetings are taking place in Lima, as the IMF warns of a triple threat to the world’s economy and the World Bank issues a dire warning about mass migration. (Spoiler alert: Europe’s migrant crisis is just the beginning.)

While you were sleeping

Deutsche Bank warned of a record loss. The German lender forecasted a third-quarter pre-tax loss of €6 billion ($6.7 billion), after accepting write-downs on its investment arm and two other units it plans to shed. New CEO John Cryan announced the figure in an open letter, amid a cost-cutting program that will include cutting staff levels by a quarter.

Barack Obama apologized for the Kunduz hospital bombing. The US president offered his condolences in phone calls to Joanne Liu, the head of Médecins Sans Frontières, and Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan president. Obama also promised a full investigation into the airstrike that mistakenly targeted the hospital, killing 22 people including doctors, nurses, and patients, and injuring 37 more.

Dell began merger talks with a data storage company. The PC maker is discussing either a partial or total tie-up with EMC, which has seen its share price fall by as much as a quarter this year. No deal is certain at this stage, but the tie-up could expand Dell’s capabilities in cloud data storage, a fast-growing segment.

Sepp Blatter could face a 90-day suspension. Members of the FIFA ethics committee have recommended that the president be taken out of office temporarily after Swiss authorities began criminal proceedings against him. Blatter is due to step down from his post in February next year; an early suspension would effectively end his controversial rule, which has lasted nearly two decades.

Japanese machine orders took a surprise tumble. They fell 3.5% in August from a year earlier (paywall), the fastest drop in 10 months and at odds with expectations of a 3.5% increase. Many businesses have been expecting the central bank to increase stimulus measures as it struggles to raise Japan’s inflation rate.

Quartz obsession interlude

Keith Collins on the slowly revealed magnitude of a typical data breach. “When a company or government agency suffers a data breach, the number of records they say were lost are often preliminary estimates, whether they say so or not. Typically, the investigation has only just begun.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Forget cage-free eggs—we should demand prison-labor-free products. Many common household goods are made by low-paid inmates.

Putin is repeating Cold War blunders in Syria. Similar meddling failed spectacularly in the past.

Hillary Clinton’s “likability problem” is really America’s. Too many people still find female ambition distasteful.

Poverty is decreasing, but the poor are still getting screwed. People in sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, are falling even further behind.

Women bear the brunt of Alzheimer’s disease. They make up two-thirds of patients, and pay an even heavier financial cost.

Surprising discoveries

A group of maximum-security prison inmates defeated the Harvard debate team. The same team also won a debate against the US Military Academy at West Point last year.

A German forestry minister accidentally started a forest fire. He should have known better than to dump ashes in a thicket.

The placebo effect is getting stronger. Researchers think prescription drug advertisements may be to blame.

NASA and ESA are forming a super team to prevent armageddon. They’re launching probes to study potentially calamitous near-Earth asteroids.

A Swiss TV station replaced its cameras with iPhones. It’s for both convenience and cost reduction, the news director said.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, selfie newscasts, and asteroid-busting strategies to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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