Michael makes landfall, SoftBank eyes WeWork, butt-dialing geckos

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

The EU and UK divorce talks approach the finish line. The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, will brief the European Commission as part of a crowded schedule ahead of a pivotal summit next week.

The Labor Department releases its September producer price index. The index, which measures the prices businesses receive for their goods and services, is expected to show a 0.2% rise (pdf), according to a Reuters survey.

Hurricane Michael lands in Florida. The Category 4 storm is packing winds of 120 mph and could bring dangerous flooding when it makes landfall in the Florida Panhandle early afternoon local time. More than 370,000 people have been ordered to evacuate.

While you were sleeping

SoftBank eyed a bigger stake in WeWork. It already owns almost 20% of the co-working company, and could be looking at taking a majority stake (paywall)—an investment that would total between $15 billion and $20 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. SoftBank’s Vision Fund is led by Japanese entrepreneur Masayoshi Son and backed mainly by Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi wealth funds.

Sears prepared for bankruptcy. The former giant of US retail, which has struggled as shoppers moved online, has hired a boutique advisory firm (paywall) ahead of a looming $134 million debt-payment deadline, and could file as soon as this week.

A Turkish newspaper named 15 Saudis it claims were involved in the journalist’s disappearance. The pro-government Sabah paper said the men were part of a Saudi intelligence squad, who arrived at Istanbul Ataturk airport on Oct 2. Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent critic of his government, hasn’t been seen since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week.

Medical experts said the world is in the grip of a mental-health crisis. The Lancet report said mental illness claims 13.5 million lives every year, and estimates that the cost of health issues, from anxiety to depression and trauma, will hit $16 trillion by 2030.

Taiwan’s president vowed not to submit to Chinese oppression. In a National Day speech bound to inflame Beijing, Tsai Ing-wen called the self-governing island a “beacon in the night for those who long for democracy.” She vowed to enhance national security in the face of Chinese pressure.

Quartz Obsession interlude

Dan Kopf on why giving cash to Nigerian entrepreneurs cash was a great idea: “The contest was unlike any government program that had been rolled out before. But it was incredibly successful—so successful, in fact, that the idea is spreading across Africa, and helping to change the way that economists think about alleviating poverty.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Future cities should be made of wood. It’s a sustainable choice, especially if modern techniques can make timber-frame buildings more fire-resistant.

RIP, Black Friday. With deep discounts available all year long, there’s no point making US retail employees work on a holiday.

“America First” will hurt everyone else. Trump’s trade wars and tax cuts will cast a long shadow (paywall) on the global economy.

Surprising discoveries

A Hawaii veterinary hospital found an unlikely “butt-dial” culprit. A rogue gecko was making calls with its feet on the director’s mobile phone.

A Frenchman heading to the beard-growing world championship was arrested for drug trafficking. Gal Vallerius, aka “OxyMonster”, has been charged in the US with online drug dealing and money laundering.

A BBC talent judge called a young David Bowie “devoid of personality.” A new documentary reveals scathing reviews from the star’s early days.

Amazon’s recruitment AI didn’t like women. The company scrapped its automated hiring tool after noticing it didn’t rate candidates in a gender-neutral way.

Indian airport police have to downgrade their smiles. Officers have been ordered to grin less broadly in order to appear “more vigilant than friendly.”

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, award-winning beards, and missed gecko calls to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android. Today’s Daily Brief was written by Jill Petzinger and edited by Sarah Todd.