They’re knocking on Turkey’s door. Militants are feared to be tightening their grip on the Syria-Turkey border town of Kobane, having claimed the hill above the city and hoisted a flag. Kobane has seen intense fighting between IS and Syrian Kurds in recent weeks, with residents of all ages taking up arms. U.S.-led forces have been hitting IS targets, but reports of IS advances are raising concerns that the militants will soon control a long stretch of the border.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Cue the wedding bells. The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review all five pending same-sex marriage cases, effectively clearing the path for gays to marry in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisonsin. Both sides of the issue had hoped the high court would decide on the constitutionality of the unions, but the justices declined. The decision effectively legalizes gay marriage in 30 states. The drumbeat grew even louder on Tuesday when a federal court struck down bans in Idaho and Nevada.
Fears of Ebola’s global spread have hit European shores with reports that a Spanish nurse has tested positive for the deadly virus. The Madrid-based woman — who treated an Ebola patient — is believed to be the first person to have contracted the disease outside Africa. She reportedly helped treat a Spanish priest who died two weeks ago.
Voters dealt leftist incumbent Dilma Rousseff a surprise. She came out on top yesterday, but not by enough, and must now face pro-business, center-right Social Democrat Aécio Neves in a runoff. Many expected more of a fight from environmental Socialist Marina Silva, but she slipped to third and out of contention. Rousseff is still the favorite, but Neves has been gaining momentum with pledges for change aimed at rooting out government corruption, which may mean a close second round on October 26.
The wind seems to have been knocked from their sails. The stalemate between pro-democracy demonstrators and authorities continues, but the crowds in the streets dwindled overnight. A government deadline — and ultimatum — for dispersal came and went today, and the activists budged to allow civil servants to cross barricades and get back to work. Protesters say they’re preparing for promised government talks, which may have averted a showdown with authorities, but are planning to hold sit-ins while they negotiate.
The parents of an Indianapolis man kidnapped by Islamic State are pleading for mercy. The 26-year-old’s family released photos of Abdul-Rahman Kassig — known as Peter before converting to Islam — working as a medic in Syria, as well as a letter he wrote in captivity. Kassig, named as the next victim in last week’s execution video of a British hostage, wrote: “I’m obviously pretty scared to die, but the hardest part is … wondering if I should even hope at all.”
They’ve decided to separate. Hewlett-Packard is about to split its operations, creating one entity for its struggling PC and hardware arm and another for its corporate services business. The tech giant plans to make the move through a tax-free distribution of shares to stockholders next year and, if all goes well, two publicly traded companies will emerge with more than $50 billion in annual revenue each. Splitting off has become popular among firms pressured to create leaner operations that can react quickly to capitalize on opportunities.
Nobel Prize awarded for work on brain’s GPS system. (CNN)
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden apologizes for Arab dig. (Washington Post)
Officials try to identify bodies found in mass Mexican grave. (BBC)
Typhoon slams Japan after killing at least one U.S. airman in Okinawa. (AP)
Ebola supplies halted at dock in Sierra Leone. (NYT)
Will there be a thaw in North-South relations? Things are certainly heating up with speculation that the Kim family has lost control after nearly 70 years. Kim Jong-un hasn’t been seen in a month, some of his advisors have visited South Korea and a former top official claims the Hermit Kingdom is embroiled in civil war. Observers wonder whether the 31-year-old Supreme Leader — who had a pronounced limp when last seen — is ill, deposed or even dead.
Here’s something you never thought the computing giant would say: “Thank God for Android.” Microsoft rakes in $1 billion annually from Samsung, the world’s largest Android phone-maker — more than Xbox, Skype and Windows Phone combined. Google’s operating system, the biggest in the world, is based on approximately 200 patent families owned by its rival. With the Windows Phone threatening to follow Blackberry into irrelevance after dropping both sales and market share last year, and Bing and MSN Network bleeding $1.3 billion in 2013, Android’s success may, ironically, be a welcome sight.
Aquaman lovers, your dreams have come true. While it may be too soon to sound the oxygen tank’s death knell just yet, scientists at the University of Southern Denmark have developed a tantalizing alternative. It’s a crystalline material that can absorb oxygen from its surroundings — enough for a breath with just a few grains. Since the crystal, like a sponge, can absorb and release oxygen repeatedly, divers, patients with health problems and even astronauts could soon be breathing longer with less.
Despite having the world’s largest polar bear population, Canada’s homegrown talent was passed over for a part in Hollywood’s Midnight Sun. Because Canadian law makes it difficult to pluck a polar bear from its northern regions, filmmakers imported a cub from China instead. The star flew from Beijing to British Columbia, arriving in a foul, aggressive mood. “He had a crummy attitude, but he was the only one they had,” said animal wrangler Mark Dumas, who bears no grudge against the foreign prima donna.
They like reds after all. Things may be tense there, but what better way to relax than with a $14,000 bottle of burgundy? A Hong Kong auction has broken the world record for most expensive wine sale, according to Sotheby’s, which sold 114 bottles of Romanee-Conti for a cool $1.6 million. While the big spenders have little in common with protesters outside, the massive purchase flies in the face of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s war on extravagance.
Perennial American League doormats — the Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals — are breaking out their brooms. The teams will meet in the AL Championship Series after finishing 3-0 Division Series sweeps yesterday, of Detroit and Anaheim respectively. Both dismissed more star-powered opponents thanks to strong bullpens and timely homers. Baltimore will play for its first World Series berth in 31 years, and Kansas City hasn’t even seen the post-season since winning it all in 1985. Fans, meanwhile, are happily dusting off their best ’80s looks.