Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Sisi in London, Expedia challenges Airbnb, Bond-inspired Swiss mansions

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What to watch for today 

The Egyptian president is in London as the plane mystery deepens. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is being hosted by British prime minister David Cameron, and they are expected to discuss the Russian plane that was downed over Egypt. Contrary to UK and US intelligence claims, el-Sisi denies there is evidence a bomb brought it down.

Canadian Conservatives look for a new leader. The Tories will elect an interim head of the party for the next two years, after Stephen Harper’s resignation following his loss to Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau in the recent general election.

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 leads earnings reports. 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

India is the latest headache for Volkswagen. Four models potentially accounting for over 300,000 cars produced different levels of emissions during on-road tests than in lab tests, according to government researchers. India’s heavy industries ministry requested Volkswagen explain the discrepancy, which could become a criminal matter.

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.

AstraZeneca raised its forecast despite mediocre results. The Anglo-Swedish drug maker said full-year earnings-per-share will increase by mid-to-high single digits, following low single-digit increases recently. That confidence comes mainly from its pipeline of cancer drugs, which will enter testing in the coming months.

The US reported a surge in Iran-based hacks. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has stepped up its attacks on the email and social media accounts of Obama administration officials, US authorities told the Wall Street Journal (paywall). That coincides with the arrest of a US citizen in Iran; journalists and academics have also been targeted.

Aung San Suu Kyi promised to lead if her party wins in elections. The leader of Myanmar’s main opposition party—who is banned from becoming president—said she would be “above the president” if her National League for Democracy party wins the country’s first openly-contested poll in 25 years on Sunday.

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 time 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.

In defense of the internet’s lack of meaning. The ephemeral nature of reading online can be just as profound as book knowledge.

Lean in to your imposter syndrome. That terrified, guilty insecurity is an excellent motivational tool.

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.

VistaJet’s CEO has a James Bond-inspired Swiss mansion. Much of the furniture was sourced from Bond film sets.

The world is running out of yellow fever vaccines. That could put Africa at particular risk of an outbreak.

Nine out of 10 top websites are leaking your data. Research shows they are leaking “user data to parties of which the user is likely unaware.”

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

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, items for safekeeping, and 007-inspired lairs to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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