The president doesn’t like Internet slow lanes, and he’s urging the Federal Communications Commission to adopt “the strongest possible rules” to keep the flow of information unfettered. This means banning deals that allow some Web sites faster access to consumers and restrict the transmission of content for others. Proponents want to see the Internet treated like electric lines — a public utility, equally distributed to all. Opponents say it’s outdated. The president’s vote is important but certainly not the final one. Expect plenty of court battles ahead.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The divided region remains on edge today. A soldier waiting at a Tel Aviv train station and passengers exiting a car in a West Bank settlement are among the victims of a Palestinian attack. One woman died. Meanwhile video footage of an Israeli police officer shooting and killing an Arab-Israeli citizen has caused national hand-wringing — and stone-throwing in Gaza. While international leaders focus on the big picture, individual attacks are sparking the powder kegs in Israel.
Did they get him? Iraqi media says a U.S. airstrike injured ISIS boss Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph, near Iraq’s Syrian border. Baghdadi’s aide was reportedly killed, and his presence means the militant leader was probably there. Still, no intercepted ISIS communication mentions the raid. The uncertainty highlights intelligence and targeting difficulties faced by the U.S.-led coalition, which President Obama says is entering a “new phase,” as Iraqi ground troops — advised by an additional 1,500 U.S. troops — go on the offensive.
It’s warming up in Asia. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — long at odds over the ownership of islands in the East China Sea and acknowledgment of Japan’s World War II atrocities in China — met today for the first time since they took power. Xi urged Japan to be cautious with its defense policies while Abe proposed a hotline to prevent maritime clashes. The meeting, held on the eve of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, raised hopes for a thaw in relations.
A suicide bomber disguised as a student — likely from Boko Haram — is believed to have killed at least 46 students and injured scores of others at a boys’ school in the northeastern town of Potiskum. The militant group maintains that boys should learn only Islam, while girls shouldn’t be educated at all. The explosion, which targeted the school’s assembly hall, is the latest in a series of attacks against students in the region, where some towns have fallen under jihadist control.
Snubbed by western sanctions, Russia is turning east with plans to sell massive amounts of Siberian gas to the Chinese. The deal between China National Petroleum Corporation and Russian energy group Gazprom follows a similar $400-billion agreement in May. With the latest accord — aka “Putin’s revenge” — China has sourced nearly a fifth of the gas it needs this decade, and Putin has found a way to get back at the West.
Let us go! Spain’s freedom-minded northeastern region voted overwhelmingly for independence yesterday, with 80.7 percent voting to break away from Madrid. The nation’s justice minister called the poll “devoid of any kind of democratic validity,” since a court ruled that the vote must be non-binding and not a path to sovereignty as planned. But nearly two million of Catalonia’s 5.4 million eligible voters cast ballots, with the region’s leader heralding it a “great success” that should lead to a real referendum.
Worst shelling in weeks rattles eastern Ukraine. (Reuters)
President Obama lands in Asia ahead of economic summit. (NYT)
NYC doctor with Ebola to be released from hospital. (NYT)
Families, friends gather in Amsterdam to remember MH17 victims. (BBC)
Tensions cloud U.S.-Iranian nuclear talks. (WSJ) sub
A million-plus revelers mark 25th anniversary of Berlin Wall’s demise. (DW)
Fun in the sack with no thought of pregnancy — that’s what one chemist sees in his crystal ball. Prof. Carl Djerassi, one of the creators of the contraceptive pill, believes innovations in fertility treatments will render birth control obsolete. He thinks even fertile couples will opt for artificial insemination, freezing their healthy eggs and sperm and then getting sterilized. IVF and genetic screening, Djerassi believes, will be preferred to the old-fashioned method, leaving baby-making to science and sex to recreation.
’Tis the season for higher fares. Airlines are planning for one of the busiest holiday travel seasons since the beginning of the recession, with high demand packing planes and keeping fares at high altitudes. Lower oil prices are controlling costs, while profits — already $2 billion ahead of last year — take off. Some 2.6 million people are expected to fly on the Sunday after Turkey Day, the busiest of the year, giving airlines plenty to be thankful for.
A frog found in the Amazon that emits a unique bat-like call has been named after the heavy metal musician. The Dendropsophus ozzyi is less than 2 centimeters in size and features long, delicate fingers and toes. At a concert in 1981, the rocker shocked a Black Sabbath crowd by biting off the head of a live bat. Osbourne claims he thought the animal — which had been thrown onstage — was a rubber imitation. But scientists naming their latest discovery seem skeptical of Osbourne’s explanation.
Scientists have determined that the best relationships are not based on love or lust, but rather “bidding.” When you “bid” for attention, and your mate responds positively, that’s a sign the relationship will probably last, researchers say. Such requests for attention often involve making random observations, and a spouse can join in with enthusiasm or be indifferent or even angry. But the study found that couples who were together six years later had responded positively toward such “bids” 87 percent of the time.
Maybe we can blame algae for getting it wrong. Scientists have found a virus that infects humans and reduces their cognitive ability. The chlorovirus ATCV-1 — previously seen only in algae — was found in almost half of study participants, impacting their spatial awareness and visual processing. Because scientists are unsure how humans contract it, and the virus leaves those infected with no other symptoms, even knowing who has caught the bug is hard to get right.
The bestselling book and film about a California man who hiked cross-country and starved to death in remote Alaska had its roots in a traumatic youth, according to his sister. She alleges that Chris McCandless, 22, was determined to sever ties with his parents, particularly his violent and domineering father. She has written a book called The Wild Truth with details supported by her two half-sisters — and refuted by her parents, who call the claims “hyped up” and “spiteful.”
He must really love football. San Francisco linebacker Aldon Smith, who just completed a nine-game suspension for substance abuse, will be losing money for the rest of the season. Sure, he’ll get paid more than $1 million. But after taxes, it’s $525,000, and he still owes the Niners nearly $1.2 million from forfeiting his signing bonus. Many thought the league would shorten Smith’s suspension so he could play yesterday, but it seems he may have skimped on his mandatory counseling. Perhaps he was getting financial advice instead.