First it delivered warplanes and tanks, now it’s bringing in the big guns. Russia has teamed up with Iraq, Syria and Iran to share intelligence about ISIS, again surprising the U.S. by expanding its influence in the region. Following a military buildup in Syria earlier in the month, this move is another signal of Putin’s very different plan for tackling the jihadis — Obama blasted Putin’s foreign policy approach in a speech to the U.N. this morning, which could make their negotiations over policy toward Assad this evening even more heated.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The City of Brotherly Love bid a very fatherly farewell last night, when hundreds of thousands turned out for the pontiff’s final American Mass, where he told the faithful that “holiness is always tied to little gestures.” The day capped off a whirlwind tour of Cuba and the United States, during which Francis urged action on everything from the migrant crisis to climate change. Today he returns to the Vatican and begins planning his next trip abroad in late November, when he’ll visit Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic.
It had them seeing red. Stargazers the world over kept their eyes on the night sky to watch the “supermoon” pass through the Earth’s shadow, taking on a dark reddish-gold hue. While all supermoons — full moons that appear 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than normal — are fun to watch, one involving a total eclipse is a rare event: This was the first since 1982. It was visible overnight to billions across the Western Hemisphere, Africa and Asia, and another won’t appear until 2033.
Its crude lifeboat sprung a leak that Riyadh’s looking to patch. The kingdom has pulled nearly $73 billion from global asset managers in a bid to cut its growing deficit and reduce its vulnerability to equities markets while sustaining its economy and paying for a war in Yemen. With a budget deficit possibly worsening to 20 percent of GDP this year, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency is scrambling to raise billions in bonds to diversify its oil-reliant economy … which has fund managers reaching for their life vests.
Catalan separatists win majority in regional parliament. (France24)
Taliban launch attack on the capital of Afghanistan’s Kunduz province. (DW)
Germany investigating Winterkorn for fraud. (Reuters)
Foreign-born U.S. population will soon break 125-year-old record. (USA Today)
Bobbi Brown’s cause of death determined, unrevealed. (BBC)
Xi Jinping vows to ‘reaffirm’ commitment to women’s rights. (NYT)
Darn, we were hoping for aliens. The U.S. space agency teased a “major science finding” today, and they weren’t all wet: Scientists have found definitive signs of briny liquid water on the fourth planet from the sun. Dark seasonal streaks on the planet’s surface were thought to be the result of flowing water, but now research teams have detected hydrated salt as well, using the high-res camera on NASA’s Reconnaissance Orbiter. Next they’ll have to find the source — and investigate prospects for life on Mars.
He wants the whole wide world on the web. Facebook’s CEO addressed the U.N. over the weekend to promote his goal of empowering people by providing universal Internet access within five years. Since more than half of the world’s population is currently unconnected, it’ll be a big job. While the 31-year-old New York state native has partnered with Bono’s One organization and the Gates Foundation to make it happen, he’s also pushing for Silicon Valley to help make the world a better — connected — place.
Leave ’em alone. One percent of the population is asexual, according to recent estimates by Professor Anthony Bogaert. Yet asexuality remains poorly understood, with assumptions about physical impairments, for example, mostly being wrong. While demonstrating lower levels of sexual desire has been pathologized, asexuals usually suffer no distress over it. Nor do they avoid loving relationships. Instead they tend to focus on romance over sex — some studies suggest these are products of different processes in the brain — and might just help a sex-crazed society learn to decouple the two.
Does he have goodwill down to a fine art? Street artist Banksy’s temporary Disneyland parody exhibition — a statement about globalization — generated millions for the English seaside town of Weston-super-Mare. Now that its five-week run at a crumbling Somerset pool resort has ended, the timbers and fixtures will be dismantled over the next three weeks and sent to “The Jungle” in Calais, France. The former art will serve as material for shelters for thousands of migrants who are camping there and dreaming of better lives.
He’s scoring a winning reputation. The 22-year-old Texan has broken golf’s annual earnings record, held by Tiger Woods since 2007. With his fifth win of the season yesterday — which saw him become the youngest ever winner of the FedEx Cup and the Tour Championship — Spieth chalked up $22,030,465 this year. He’s also the youngest player to win five major tournaments since Horton Smith in 1929, and his triumphant season-ender should put him a stroke ahead in the race for PGA Tour Player of the Year.