Hours after Beijing nixed a free choice for the former British colony’s next leader, activists were pepper-sprayed by authorities. The confrontation followed democracy advocates’ storming of a lecture by Li Fei, deputy secretary general of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, who said voters would be “confused” by unlimited candidates and that a Communist Party panel must vet them. China wants to chill dissent, but it’ll need more spray: Pro-democracy movement Occupy Central plans to take over the “free” city’s financial district.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Just days after warning the West not to “mess with” a nuclear-armed Russia, its cagey leader is calling for talks on “statehood” for eastern Ukraine to ensure that its citizens’ rights are protected. The demand comes in the wake of Europe threatening a fresh round of sanctions. Arizona Sen. John McCain and other American politicians, meanwhile, are calling for the U.S. to send weapons to help Ukraine battle a Russian “invasion” that is looking more and more like its Crimean annexation.
Just when things were quieting down, Israel has decided to appropriate nearly 1,000 acres of West Bank land near Bethlehem for a Jewish settlement. The move — viewed as punishment for the murder of three Israeli teens — is said to be Israel’s largest land seizure in 30 years and has triggered a new wave of criticism. American leaders are calling it “counterproductive” to peace, while Palestinian leaders warn it will create more hard-line enemies of Israel.
Chinese manufacturing slowed in August more than analysts predicted. The Purchasing Managers’ Index rate dropped 0.6 to 51.1 last month, which, with slowing property investment, may pressure Beijing into action. New stimulus measures are expected in the coming weeks as China seeks to meet its expansion target of 7.5 percent for the year. That news prompted Asian stocks to rise in early trading today, but China is also facing the prospect of its first-ever default in its expanding shadow banking sector.
Iraqi forces retake Amerli, U.S. leaders seek strategy against militants. (CNN)
Troops retake Pakistan’s state TV from protesters. (BBC)
Suspected teenage girl jihadist busted at French airport. (The Wire)
Comedian Joan Rivers on life support. (UPI)
Militia overruns U.S. embassy in Libya. (AP)
The modern menace has pulled another move from the medieval playbook: selling slave wives. At least two dozen kidnapped women — from a Kurdish- and Arabic-speaking Yazidi religious minority in Iraq — have been spirited to Syria, forced to convert to Islam and sold to Islamic State fighters for $1,000 each, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. More than 300 abducted Yazidi women were “distributed as spoils of war,” while IS rejected attempts to buy the victims’ freedom.
Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis’ new heart failure treatment has shown “remarkably positive” results in a global clinical trial of 8,400 patients. Participants in the trial of new drug LCZ696 cut their risk of dying or being hospitalized for heart-related ailments by 20 percent. The drug could be available as early as next year, but it won’t come cheap. While current generic heart drugs run $4 a month, LCZ696 is expected to cost a heart-stopping $200.
General Motors wants your attention. The Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac maker reportedly plans to scan drivers’ eyes and heads in order to warn against distracted driving. It’s part of automotive companies’ efforts to steer some of the buzz — and driving gadgetry business — away from tech companies. The once-creaky auto behemoth is capturing imaginations as well as market share, offering an app for checking the car’s health while junior is driving. But there’s a fine line between signaling danger and driving one to distraction.
Have hackers bared a soft spot in cloud security? They allegedly busted into Apple’s iCloud and snatched nude photos of actresses Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and several others. Some victims said the photos — posted and sold online — were fake, while others attacked hackers and gawkers on Twitter. Lawrence’s spokesman threatened prosecution. Worried about your naughty bytes? Data stored on iCloud is encrypted on the server and in transit, and Byzantine passwords should keep peeping hacks at bay.
So much for deterrence. Days after the league adopted a tough domestic violence policy, it has its first case. San Francisco defensive end Ray McDonald was arrested Sunday for “inflicting injury on a spouse or cohabitant,” reportedly leaving a pregnant girlfriend with bruises. Pregnancy is an aggravating factor in the new NFL rules, so this could be curtains for the 290-pound 49er. For the league, it’s a chance to prove its red line is not made of chalk.