Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Suspected ISIL bomb, Facebook’s mega profits, endangered beer

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What to watch for today

The US raises the stakes in the South China Sea. Defense secretary Ashton Carter will visit the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt as it conducts routine operations while transiting the South China Sea. Yesterday, Carter attended an Asia-Pacific meeting in Kuala Lumpur, where the US and China disagreed over the contested waters.

Microsoft’s CEO visits Mumbai. Satya Nadella will meet with technology leaders and talk about the company’s plans for India. Microsoft has recently built three data centers in the country, and is working to bring cheap internet service to half a million Indian villages.

NASA has big news about Mars. The space agency is expected to release “key science findings” about the Martian atmosphere, based on data from the Maven spacecraft, which is currently orbiting the planet.

Weight Watchers reports earnings. Investors will be watching to see if Oprah Winfrey’s new investment will reinvigorate the struggling firm. Ralph Lauren, Shake Shack, Kraft Heinz, Time Inc., News Corp., and Walt Disney are also reporting quarterly results.

While you were sleeping

The US said an ISIL bomb “most likely” destroyed Russia’s downed jet. US authorities added to UK concerns that Metrojet flight 9268 was probably downed by an explosive planted on the plane by ISIL or one of its affiliates, according to various reports.

Facebook’s share price rose to an all-time high. The social networking giant reported a third-quarter net income of $891 million, from $802 million a year earlier, despite increasing its spending by over two-thirds, to $3 billion in the quarter. Facebook doubled its video views in six months, grew active users by 14% in a year, and increased ad revenue by almost half.

Expedia bought an Airbnb competitor. The travel website agreed to a $3.9 billion cash-and-stock price tag for HomeAway, a vacation rental platform, representing a 20% premium on the startup’s Wednesday share price. That will boost efforts to take on Airbnb, which is currently valued at $24 billion.

Janet Yellen said a December rate hike is still possible. The Federal Reserve chairwoman testified before Congress that the US economy was performing well, and that the Fed was still considering raising interest rates before the end of the year.

Toshiba warned of a major loss. The Japanese electronics conglomerate confirmed it will likely report a 90 billion yen ($737 million) operating loss for the six months to September as it deals with the fallout (paywall) from an accounting scandal. That’s a steep decline from Toshiba’s 11 billion yen first-quarter loss; shares fell as much as 9% in early trading.

More protestors gathered on Romania’s streets. At least 30,000 people demanded early elections and political reform on Wednesday night, despite the resignation of prime minister Victor Ponta. That’s up from 20,000 protestors on Tuesday night; most are angry at perceived government corruption.

Quartz obsession interlude

Steve LeVine on challenging times for political pollsters: “In almost any other numbers-based industry, such a record of wrongness would be a crisis—it no doubt factored into Gallup’s decision to sit out the 2016 US presidential primary races. Yet polls keep being produced, and people keep hungering for them. For a variety of reasons, we just want to know what’s going to happen next, and not wait for events just to occur on their own.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Sugar should be regulated like tobacco. Producers are causing a global health crisis.

Hairstyles are inherently political. White women with cornrow braids should be aware of their historical context (paywall).

An open-source competitor could take on Uber. It would leave money with the drivers, and not take a profit.

We buy luxury for our own pleasure, not for status. Theories about ostentatious displays of wealth miss a larger point.

Surprising discoveries

US police are stealing things for safekeeping. Cops in Connecticut are “confiscating” expensive items left in unlocked cars.

A Wyoming hunter stumbled upon a gigantic crack in the earth. Watch your step out there.

Climate change is threatening Belgian beer. Coffee, sushi, and wine are also endangered.

A Japanese instant curry brand is offering a “DVD girlfriend.” It’s a video of a woman keeping you company while you eat.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, items for safekeeping, and still-good Belgian beer to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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