UBS struggles, MacBook makeover, fossilized dinosaur brains

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today and over the weekend

A Northern Ireland court rules on a challenge to the Brexit vote. Plaintiffs allege that the Northern Irish regional assembly should have had the chance to vote on the exit from the EU. The case is the first in a series of closely watched Brexit legal cases.

Trade and housing fuel US GDP growth. Analysts expect the economy to post third-quarter growth of 3% or more on stronger exports and consumer spending. That would be the strongest performance since 2014.

Pirates conquer Iceland. The Pirate Party, founded less than four years ago by a group of activists, anarchists, and hackers, is poised to upend Icelandic politics with an Oct. 29 general-election victory. It is led by Birgitta Jonsdottir, a former WikiLeaks contributor who describes herself as a “poetician.”

While you were sleeping

Diverging fortunes at Alphabet and Amazon. Google’s parent company beat revenue and profit expectations on the strength of its core search and YouTube businesses, sending shares up modestly. Amazon, on the other hand, fell short of what analysts were expecting, despite growth in its cloud computing unit, sending shares down 5%.

UBS reported a rough third quarter. The Swiss bank’s net profit fell 60% year-on-year, though the year-ago numbers were helped by a tax benefit. Still, the performance fell far short of expectations. The bank cited high regulatory costs and low transaction volumes caused by political uncertainty and concerns over global growth, and said it expects the tough conditions to continue.

MacBooks got a makeover. The new laptop line has an OLED touchscreen called “Touch bar,” which shows different buttons for different apps. Apple also announced a new app called “TV,” which aggregates shows and films from different streaming apps in one place.

A giant US newspaper merger hit the wall. Gannett’s deal to buy Tronc, which would unite papers including USA Today and the Chicago Tribune, was called into doubt after the banks financing the deal reportedly pulled out. Shares of each company plunged by as much as 30%.

Qualcomm announced the biggest-ever semiconductor acquisition. It’s buying Netherlands-based NXP as it seeks a foothold in making chips for the automotive industry. With mobile phone growth slowing, autonomous cars could be the next big source of tech industry growth. The transaction, including debt, is valued at $47 billion.

Quartz markets haiku

non-GAAP. Crafty accounting
Makes us LOL.

Quartz obsession interlude

Chase Purdy on why farming is no longer “meaningful” work for US prison inmates. “Supporters of the program argued that work outdoors promoted the health and wellbeing of inmates, since many facilities lived largely off the food. But the programs lost favor as the agricultural industry consolidated and became more mechanized.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Search engines are distorting our perception, says Angela Merkel. The German chancellor says the lack of algorithm transparency is troubling.

Bitcoin is only good for one thing: getting money out of China. The cryptocurrency is a near-perfect proxy for capital outflow—and it’s surging.

Twitter needs a full-time CEO. Multitasking Jack Dorsey is not doing justice to a difficult job.

Surprising discoveries

The first-ever fossilized dinosaur brain turned up in England. Its existence is “so unbelievably unlikely that it just shouldn’t have happened.”

A new home-delivery meal kit service wants your blood. It analyzes nutrition-related biomarkers in the sample you send to customize dinner.

Colombia’s third-largest city is ditching “Dr.” and “Sir.” The mayor of Cali wants to close the gap between the poor and the rich by eliminating hierarchical titles.

Marijuana may help you see in the dark. New research suggests that it makes specialized cells in your retina more sensitive to light.

Uber is exploring the use of flying cars. It predicts that “vertical take-off and landing” vehicles “will be an affordable form of daily transportation for the masses.”

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, flying cars, and night-vision vaporizers to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our iPhone app.