Manhattan, meet your new skyline. Thirteen years after the original towers were destroyed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, employees of publishing giant Condé Nast have started to set up camp in what is now the tallest building in the U.S. The One World Trade Center’s 104 stories took eight years and $3.8 billion to build, and the “most secure office building in America” is already 60-percent leased. It includes a museum and a soon-to-open observation deck for the public. “The New York City skyline is whole again,” said the Port Authority’s executive director.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Twelve-year-old Menachem Zivotofsky took his first breath in Jerusalem. And thus began a legal case that could reverberate throughout the Levant, with arguments heard today by the U.S. Supreme Court. Congress has allowed Jerusalemites to note Israel on a U.S. passport since 2002, but the Obama administration refuses to do so. Zivotofsky’s case would force the White House to recognize Jerusalem as Israeli, and not Palestinian. Considering recent underwhelming peace talks, the high court’s decision could have major international repercussions.
Bad timing. The president’s popularity has hit a low of 44 percent before tomorrow’s midterm elections. The races aren’t a sure bet, but the GOP’s final push to win six seats and control the Senate seems to have the inside track in Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana and Iowa. Democrats, meanwhile, are knocking on doors and praying for a high turnout, their best hope of salvation. One sure thing? Tens of millions will be spent in a last-minute surge to impact the vote.
The prospect of rocketing tourists into space suffered a setback with Friday’s deadly crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo. Sir Richard Branson denied that his company took risks with a new propulsion system, and vowed to keep the hope of private space travel alive. Virgin Group is now financing Galactic after it burned through $400 million in investments, raising concerns that the well may run dry. Officials investigating the crash, meanwhile, say a control lever intended for re-entry was unlocked, suggesting a fatal error.
“The freedom is in the choice,” Brittany Maynard believed. The 29-year-old’s heart-wrenching battle with brain cancer ended yesterday when she died on her own terms. Maynard moved to Oregon to take advantage of the state’s Death with Dignity Act. The adventurer who once scuba-dived in Zanzibar and climbed Kilimanjaro took a life-ending prescription and died at home surrounded by loved ones. An aid-in-dying campaign in California, Maynard’s home state, is now gearing up.
Moderate Syrian rebels that the U.S. was training, equipping and counting on to battle ISIS have been taking a beating by al-Qaida-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra militants. This means allied weaponry is falling into enemy hands, and officials fear some rebels are defecting to the hard-core Islamic group. The violence — an apparent push to eliminate Syria’s moderate factions — will likely discourage other opposition groups from aligning with the U.S. as it ramps up a $500-million rebel-training program.
First came the young, pro-Western reformers who want the troubled Ukrainian government to function again, and were voted into parliament in late October. Then came Sunday’s vote in the Russian-backed separatist East, where elections were recognized by Moscow but condemned by almost everyone else. There’s also evidence of increased Soviet troop activity in the region, all of which threatens the weak truce signed almost two months ago. The biggest challenge facing the liberal reformists in Kiev may not be fixing parliament so much as keeping their country intact.
Boat sinks, kills dozens of illegal immigrants near Turkey. (Al Jazeera)
Pro-Russia ‘republics’ in Ukraine cast their vote. (DW)
‘Car Talk’ Radio Show Co-Host Tom Magliozzi Dies at 77 (NPR)
Iraqi security readies for huge push against ISIS. (NYT)
Dozens die in Pakistan suicide bombing. (BBC)
High-wire walker breaks two world records in Chicago. (Chicago Tribune)
Kenyans Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany win NYC Marathon. (Reuters)
Watching her father torture kittens and finding duct tape near the pillow in his truck weighed on Melissa Moore’s young mind before her pop was jailed for raping and murdering eight women in the 1990s. She knew there was something off about Keith Hunter Jesperson. For one, he was too explicit about sex with her mom, and he refused to tell her something “really important,” because “you will tell the police.” When she wonders whether he would’ve killed her, she now knows the answer is “Yes.”
Tourists wondered whether they’d taken a wrong turn out of town yesterday when they encountered 2,000 sheep in Spain’s capital. Shepherds and flocks took to the streets to defend ancient grazing rights — threatened, they say, by urban sprawl. Madrid spans a centuries-old herding route, which sheep owners used to highlight the costs of urbanization. They paid for the traffic-jamming crossing. But authorities, who collected just 25 maravedies — coins first minted in the 11th century — may have gotten fleeced.
It’s too late. We’re stuck in a vortex of irreversible climate change, warns an international team of scientists. The UN panel released findings from a five-year mission to assess environmental damage, and the news isn’t good. We already face severe weather and flooding from melting polar ice. And even if all fossil fuel emissions stopped, their impact would “continue for centuries.” All we can do is mitigate even more dangerous effects with efforts to cut pollution — and hope it buys us time to adapt and survive.
Some holidays are made for wizards. To mark Halloween, J.K. Rowling treated fans to a 1,150-word story about one of her most deviant characters — the twee but sadistic teacher Dolores Umbridge, whom the author says was loosely based on a real-life teacher. And if the series hasn’t lost its charm for you, three new movies from the Potter universe are in the works, all about the wanderings of a “magizoologist” who would later write a textbook studied by Harry and the gang.
How does this make you feel? Some forward-thinking University of Maryland researchers believe a Siri-like cell phone program could one day determine whether users are depressed and direct them to human help. Vocal patterns change as depression worsens — with speech becoming slower and breathier — to such a degree that it could be picked up by a speech-recognition program. Such a digital doctor would most likely appeal to teens and young adults, a particularly vulnerable population for mental health issues.
So much for getting the whole picture. Just shy of the end zone, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick dove in for a touchdown that would’ve beaten the St. Louis Rams, who were leading 13-10 with nine seconds left on the clock. All he had to do was cross the goal line (which he did) with the ball. But did he have it? He certainly didn’t after the jumble of bodies was untangled. But no camera angle revealed whether man and ball crossed together, leaving the true outcome lost to history.
Let’s hope it stays on its current course. Super Typhoon Nuri, currently intensifying in the West Pacific Ocean basin, is shaping up to be the worst tempest of 2014 just a month after Super Typhoon Vongfong clocked in as one of the top 30 storms on record. Nuri isn’t currently expected to hit land, but with higher water surface temperatures contributing to bigger and meaner weather patterns, such powerful churns are going to be increasingly inescapable.