They want democratically chosen candidates, not puppets, and they’re wreaking havoc in the most chaotic confrontation with Beijing in a decade. Police let rubber bullets and pepper spray fly to warn off tens of thousands of activists yesterday. Authorities claim protests have calmed today in the 7-million-strong city, but demonstrators are still blocking streets, closing banks and disrupting transportation. The Hang Seng index dropped 1.8 percent, and some investors worry the trouble could further soften China’s economy.
The Presidential Daily Brief
U.S. intelligence misjudged Islamic State’s growing might in Iraq and Syria, President Obama admitted on 60 Minutes yesterday. Amid the Syrian civil war, militants were able to “take advantage of that chaos” to turn the nation into “ground zero for jihadists,” Obama said. Meanwhile, as American airstrikes pummeled IS strongholds and oil refineries in Syria, the head of the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaida affiliate, warned that supporters could attack inside Western countries if air assaults continue.
Investors withdrew about $10 billion from Pacific Investment Management Co. funds after Friday’s abrupt departure of co-founder Bill Gross. One of the most successful investors of all time, Gross reportedly resigned to avoid being fired for his erratic behavior and losses during a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation. Management said the “vast majority” of clients are sticking with Pimco, but analysts fear the firm could lose as much as a third of its $2 trillion in assets.
“Modi, Modi, Modi,” 19,000 spectators at Madison Square Garden chanted for India’s new prime minister yesterday. It’s Narendra Modi’s first U.S. tour — he was denied a diplomatic visa in 2005 over charges he failed to intervene in deadly anti-Muslim riots in his province. But he’s here now, and he’s humbly vowing to do “big things for small people,” like promote economic growth and clean up the Ganges River. His next stop? The White House, where he and President Obama will discuss economic growth and security.
Ashraf Ghani inaugurated president of Afghanistan. (Al Jazeera)
French Conservatives claim Senate majority, far-right party wins two seats. (DW)
Rescuers suspend search for Japan volcano survivors. (BBC)
Facebook unleashes Atlas in bid to boost advertising. (NYT)
Nationals’ pitcher Zimmerman throws no-hitter. (USA Today)
Latte lovers at one of the busiest coffee shops in America needn’t worry about a barista butchering their names. When a manager tried to personalize cups at the Starbucks in Virginia’s most-renowned office block, it made intelligence operatives “very uncomfortable.” So the unspoken rule at the CIA’s “Stealthy Starbucks” is no names or loyalty cards. Baristas go through their own security training just to work there, with background checks and on-site escorts to and from what the receipts call “Store Number 1.”
Hope is at hand, but it isn’t cheap. A drug for treating advanced breast cancer has shown unprecedented success in prolonging life. The Swiss company Roche’s drug, Perjeta, extended survival in patients by nearly 16 months in a study of more than 800 women. The findings support the drug’s use for the 20 percent of breast cancer patients beset with a protein called HER2. But Perjeta and its companion drug, Herceptin, cost over $11,000 a month, challenging the notion of health at any cost.
This will be music to your lips. If you’ve ever wondered what your favorite song tastes like, Beatballs – an app that transforms tunes into meatballs – is for you. Swedish art students have coded each sound into an ingredient and come up with a synthetic algorithm to help cooks transform their favorite tunes into their favorite dishes. Some concoctions will surprise, from Bob Marley’s “Is This Love?” tasting of strawberries to “Bohemian rhapsody” being made of alligator, and all of them will help ensure you never miss another beefy beat.
For a bit of laughter, try talking about war. That’s the humor recipe for American late-night funnymen these days. But it packs a punch. The Syrian airstrike campaign is the “iPhone 6 of wars — expensive, a little bigger … and at least a two-year commitment,” quips The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart. Steven Colbert delights that he could get more holes punched in his “Mideast frequent bombing card … [to] get a free falafel.” The question is: How long will we be giggling?
Wolverines quarterback Shane Morris wasn’t the only one who needed to have his skull examined. Michigan coach Brady Hoke — whose team was being embarrassed by Minnesota — didn’t blink when Morris wobbled in a daze after taking a vicious helmet hit. The coach delayed sidelining him and reinserted the still-woozy player moments later. With sports head injuries very much on people’s radar, ESPN’s announcers called it “appalling.” Michigan officials are defending Hoke, but some sports commentators are demanding his head.