It’s historic, if largely symbolic. Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet in Singapore on Saturday, the first time leaders of each government have done so since 1949. The leaders aren’t expected to sign any formal agreements but will hold informal talks focused on peace. The meeting is particularly important for Ma, whose party has fallen behind ahead of January’s upcoming election. Term limits prevent him from running again but after campaigning on a platform of improved relations in 2008, the meeting could be a critical step toward securing his legacy.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Let’s not jump to conclusions. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is dismissing claims that ISIS-linked jihadis caused the Russian Airbus to crash in the Sinai Peninsula as “propaganda.” The plane is believed to have broken up in midair, and satellite data showing a heat flash — along with a militant group’s claim of responsibility and the airline’s report of an “external influence” — have speculation running rampant. But experts say they’ve seen no sign yet of terrorism and insist they need more time to sift through the evidence.
According to police, they were just in time. Three men in their twenties, all Moroccan-born but with Spanish residency, were arrested today in pre-dawn raids in Madrid. They’re suspected of having links to ISIS and were believed to have been ”ready to attack” the capital. Police say most of Spain’s 50 terrorism-related arrests this year have been of those trying to recruit new members or decamp to Syria. But these detainments signal a more domestic focus for police and perhaps would-be terrorists.
We’ll be back. That’s the message from American defense officials who say routine ops in the contested waterway will continue. While addressing a Beijing audience, Adm. Harry Harris said U.S. Navy maneuvers in international waters — where China has staked a territorial claim — are not “a threat to any nation.” He also said the moves aren’t geared toward dismissing China’s land claims on artificial islands in the South China Sea, so much as demonstrating that the islands do not come with rights to the waters around them.
They don’t like their chances. The company looking to construct the controversial oil pipeline has asked the U.S. State Department to suspend its building permit request. Execs cited Nebraska’s review of their proposed route as the reason for the delay, but it’s assumed that TransCanada Corp. is trying to avoid an anticipated rejection during Obama’s tenure — among 2016 candidates, Dems are opposed, but Republicans favor the pipeline. U.S. officials must now decide whether to pause the proceedings, which would push the Keystone decision into the next president’s term.
They’ve got one helluva sweet tooth. The gaming giant plans to buy King Digital Entertainment in the industry’s biggest deal since Minecraft got snapped up by Microsoft. The acquisition will see Activision pay $18 per share in a deal uniting two of the most popular mobile games in America — Candy Crush Saga and Candy Crush Soda Saga — with the gaming franchise responsible for Call of Duty and World of Warcraft. The anticipated spring 2016 deal must still be approved by King’s shareholders and Ireland’s high court.
South African prosecutors seek appeal, murder charge for Oscar Pistorius. (BBC)
Frankfurt police launch tax raid on offices of German football association. (DW)
U.S.-led anti-ISIS alliance faces serious challenges. (NYT)
Experts put Marco Rubio ahead of other GOP power players. (USA Today)
Refugees beg for release from British RAF base in Cyprus. (The Guardian)
Billionaire hedge fund manager arrested, accused of insider trading. (SCMP)
30 die in Nepal bus crash. (Time)
Middle-aged white folks, say no to drugs! A new report reveals that non-Hispanic white people aged 45-54 have seen their death rates steadily rise at about half a percent annually since 1999, compared to the falling death rates of older and non-white Americans. Drugs, alcohol and suicide are the main culprits, and these half a million unnecessary deaths were mostly among those without college degrees. The study suggests that boosting economic growth while tackling addictions to pain medication and heroin are key to reversing the trend.
It’s caught between a rock and a hard place. Ethiopia’s counterterrorism strategies have kept the country safe from bombings, even as neighbors like Kenya, Somalia and Uganda take heavy hits. But some argue that the country’s surveillance of phone calls, Skype sessions and emails is counterproductive, turning it into a police state that’s curtailing human rights, rather than protecting them. Many worry that al-Shabab terrorists will simply adapt to circumnavigate these security measures — meaning that Ethiopians’ freedoms may have been sacrificed for nothing.
Can it live long and prosper? It may be futuristic, but the space drama needs to prove it can fly in the digital age. Cue the nearly 50-year-old cult favorite’s return to television … but only for one episode. The premier airs in January 2017, but the rest of the season will only be available on streaming service CBS All Access. It’s a nod to the digital revolution and proof that the network — with sights set on millions of Trekkie subscriptions — is still aiming for the skies.
They call the shots. A survey of American pediatricians finds that many won’t treat families who refuse to vaccinate children. “Firing” anti-vax patients is more common in the South and Northeast, especially in states that don’t allow philosophical exemptions to school vaccination requirements. While such dismissals are discouraged by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC, who say physicians should maintain contact in the hope of convincing parents to vaccinate, the doctors say refusal is often the most effective way to protect their other patients.
He’s not wasting any time. At 30 years and 307 days, the King now reigns over a new page of the NBA record book, reaching the scoring milestone nearly a year earlier than fellow superstar Kobe Bryant. He received a standing ovation from Philadelphia fans last night, even as he helped the Cavs beat the 76ers 107-100. James, now in his 13th season, is the 20th player ever to hit the 25,000-point mark, but he’ll need an additional 13,387 points to topple Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record.