Conflicting accounts surfaced today of a U.S. airstrike near a hospital run by the charity Doctors Without Borders early Saturday. Afghan media said the helicopter strike, believed to have killed as many as 22 — including children — came after Taliban gunmen in the facility fired on troops, some of whom the U.S. military said were its advisors. And AP video from the scene reportedly shows automatic weapons in the facility’s charred remains. Both the charity and the Taliban denied that fighters were in the building, and pressure is mounting for an independent investigation.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Twenty million people along the East Coast are experiencing a historic rainstorm that has caused five fatalities among hundreds of road accidents. Some areas of South Carolina face “catastrophic flash flooding,” according to the National Weather Service. The coast was mercifully spared the added onslaught of Hurricane Joaquin, which ripped through the Bahamas before moving out to sea. With 130-mph winds, it may have swallowed up a 790-foot container ship, the El Faro, with 33 crew. Rescuers found cargo containers and a life ring from the vessel, missing for more than 72 hours, but the search continues.
The Kremlin says it’s stepping up Syrian airstrikes, much to the dismay of the United States and its allies fighting ISIS. It’s the first time Russian forces have fought outside the former Soviet Union since the end of the Cold War, but their targets are in question. Only 5 percent of Russian attacks are hitting ISIS, says Britain’s defense minister, echoing President Obama’s assessment that Russian involvement is a “recipe for disaster” — hitting Western and Arab-backed rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad. The Pentagon is considering options to protect its allies, heating up an already perilous confrontation.
Investors are excited about boring funds. They’re flooding so-called passive investments, or index funds, that track the market rather than actively pick stocks. In the first half of 2015, $118.1 billion went passive — 40 times the amount that trickled into active funds. These guys average better than the active investors over the years, but will that continue if the market stays wobbly? Some active funds do consistently well, but passive investments are usually cheaper to service. Impatient investors who pull out? They’re safe, but perhaps sorry when the market rebounds.
They need to get over themselves. Veteran German journalist Armin Mahler argues that his nation’s international brands, like Volkswagen and Deutsche Bank, have been driven by unrealistic expectations to overtake their competitors, leading to illegal and self-destructive practices like VW’s smog-testing fraud. Such arrogance won’t just cripple the perpetrators — it could take down Europe’s top economy. Unless the country’s industrial titans trade recklessness for due diligence, he says, Germans could find themselves resembling their own caricature of their hobbled EU cousin, Greece.
French president visits area of deadly flash floods on Riviera. (AFP)
Tens of thousands evacuated as Typhoon Mujigae hits southeastern China. (SCMP)
Two suicide bombers kill 24 in Shiite areas of Baghdad. (Al Jazeera)
Jerusalem attacks prompt Israel to restrict Palestinian access to Old City. (BBC)
Bartender Hillary Clinton talks to herself in Saturday Night Live skit. (Washington Post)
He’s a little Edward R. Murrow, if Murrow had made national news before graduating high school. Andrew Demeter is a 17-year-old viral video journalist whose work has been recognized by Fox News and C-SPAN for not shying away from tough questions, even if he’s addressing a former speaker of the house. Although lionized by conservatives, the Call of Duty fan defies labels by preaching peace and shunning meat. Demeter’s making a splash trying to keep leaders accountable, but he’d better ease off the conspiracy rants if he wants to be president when he grows up.
It is used in 90 percent of mammograms, costs the U.S. $400 million every year — and it doesn’t work. That’s the new scientific finding on computer-aided detection, software sold to help spot cancer in common breast X-rays. A huge study of 625,000 mammograms found the program’s flagging of suspicious spots didn’t improve radiologists’ tumor detection rates, and actually lowered them in some cases. This might prompt Medicare and Medicaid to stop paying for the digital accessory — one potential treatment for bloated American health-care costs.
He’s still waiting for a Sputnik moment. On Oct. 25, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson launches the second season of his show featuring high-profile guests gabbing about science and space. He says America is missing something: a scientific goal to capture its imagination. Obama may have talked about far-off Mars missions, but he hasn’t set a near-term goal, as Kennedy did with manned moon exploration. As for politicians who say, “I’m not a scientist,” Tyson says that’s fine, but “get one, and understand what science is and how it works.”
Tulips, windmills and cannabis cafés maybe, but cheese? That’s what ought to be identified with the Dutch. They love dairy products, which seem to have made them the tallest people on Earth. The country produces 800,000 tons of cheese every year, and it’s the birthplace of Edam and the oft-mispronounced Gouda (“GOW-dah”). Experts may disagree on what gives these lowlanders their record height, but here’s a clue: Experience shows that if immigrants coming to Europe settle in Holland, they’ll end up taller than if they’d stayed back home.
Analytics may be king, but not for the Royals. Their manager leads with his gut and ignores the number crunchers — an approach that’s earned him plenty of skeptics, while his record speaks for itself. He almost won last year’s World Series despite losing some of his best talent to other teams. One analyst muses that “weird things can happen” in the close games resulting from the Royals’ defense-centric strategy. But the loyalty of players who share Yost’s infectious confidence may be the factor that decides the playoffs — and confounds the algorithms.