TL;DR – TOP STORIES FOR THE WEEK

  1. Third presidential debate between Clinton and Trump
  2. Wikileaks releases more emails
  3. British spies had unlawful databases of citizen private data for 17 years
  4. Russian and Syrian governments announce pauses in Syria conflict, humanitarian corridor
  5. Yemen cease-fire
  6. Operation begins to retake Mosul, Iraq, from Islamic State militants
  7. Protests in Philippines
  8. Train derailment in Cameroon
  9. Rockets lift off for the International Space Station
  10. Large-scale attack on DNS provider leads to global internet interruptions

united states

“New York trails other states in modernizing its 911 systems to handle greater cellphone use, in part because lawmakers routinely divert money intended for that purpose and use it to plug holes in the state budget.” (AP)

“The nation’s high school graduation rose again in the 2014-2015 school year, reaching a new record high as more than 83 percent of students earned a diploma on time…. The figures show gains among every group of students — including white, black, Asian, Hispanic and Native American, as well as low-income students, students with disabilities and those learning English as a second language.” (WP)

“A former National Security Agency contractor amassed at least 500 million pages of government records, including top-secret information about military operations, by stealing documents bit by bit over two decades, the Justice Department alleged…. Prosecutors in August arrested and charged Harold ‘Hal’ Martin III, of Glen Burnie, Md., with theft of government property and unauthorized removal or retention of classified documents. The case was kept under seal until earlier this month, when some details became public.” (WSJ)

united states politics

The third and final Presidential Debate took place, featuring Donald Trump and Clinton, with FOX News moderator Chris Wallace. Wallace was informally declared the winner of the debate on social media. Several post-debate polls showed Clinton with a slight lead, but like the second debate, there wasn’t a clear winner. Many opinions were divided among party lines – Democrats favoring Clinton’s performance and Republicans favoring Trump’s performance. U.K. bookmakers saw a surge of bets on a win for Trump.

The FBI released 100 new pages from its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. “[There] is evidence that high-ranking State Department staffer Patrick Kennedy pressured the FBI not to classify an email in Clinton’s archive…. [He] offered a ‘quid pro quo’ to keep it unclassified, one FBI official claimed.” (TH) “Interview summaries released previously by the FBI also show at least one official in the State Department telling investigators that there was pressure by senior department officials to mislead the public about the presence of classified information in Clinton’s emails ahead of their public release.” (Reuters)

Wikileaks has released thousands of emails from John Podesta, campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton’s Chief of Staff during his second term. The large presence of Wikileaks in the 2016 U.S. presidential election has been divisive, and some countries have taken steps to try and minimize the impact of Wikileaks. “Quiet pressure from the U.S. government played a role in Ecuador’s decision to block WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from using the internet at Ecuador’s London embassy….” (NBC) More leaks appeared to confirm two plots to smear and discredit Assange.

“A new video investigation released Monday by James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas Action shows how Democratic-aligned organizations used a tactic called ‘bird-dogging’ to incite violence and chaos at Trump rallies for media consumption. A key Clinton operative is captured on camera saying, ‘It doesn’t matter what the friggin’ legal and ethics people say, we need to win….'” (RCP) “Two political operatives working with the Democratic National Committee have stepped aside after a conservative group released videos that appear to show one of them discussing plans to incite violence… and to engage in voter fraud.” (WSJ) Some people have criticized the O’Keefe videos as being “selectively edited” to not show context.

Europe

“British security agencies have secretly and unlawfully collected massive volumes of confidential personal data, including financial information, on citizens for more than a decade….” (TG) “For nearly two decades, British spies unlawfully maintained vast troves of people’s private data without adequate safeguards against misuse, a tribunal of senior judges has ruled.” (TI)

“More than two dozen people were treated for breathing difficulties in a suspected chemical incident that sparked the evacuation of London City Airport Friday, fire and ambulance services said.” (AP)

“The Austrian government says it plans to demolish the house where Adolf Hitler was born and erect a new building in its place in efforts to erase any link to the Nazi dictator’s birthplace.” (TIME)

MIDDLE EAST

“Syrian opposition fighters backed by Turkey have taken control of the northern Syrian town of Dabiq from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group. The fighters said they seized the town on Sunday following heavy shelling and months of air strikes. Dabiq is considered a major ISIL stronghold with symbolic importance to the group, also known as ISIS.” (AJ)

“The Russian and Syrian militaries say they will observe a ‘humanitarian pause’ between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Oct. 20 to allow civilians and militants safe passage out of the city.” (AP) They later announced that these pauses would continue. “Russian foreign minister says Moscow prepared to continue pause of bombing of Aleppo if rebels do not initiate attacks.” (AP) “A cease-fire to allow wounded civilians and rebels to leave besieged parts of Aleppo has been extended into the weekend by Russia, but hoped-for medical evacuations didn’t materialize by Friday evening because of a lack of security guarantees, officials and residents said.” (AP) Russian ships are making their way through waters near Europe, thought to be on their way to provide reinforcements in Syria.

“The warring parties in Yemen have agreed to a 72-hour cease-fire that will take effect shortly before midnight Wednesday, the U.N. special envoy to Yemen said.” (AP)

The operation to retake the city of Mosul began. “A diverse coalition of Iraqi forces launched a long-awaited offensive against Islamic State in Mosul, one of the last major cities still controlled by the militant group.” (WSJ) “Islamic State group leaders have been fleeing Mosul as US-backed local forces close in on the jihadists’ last Iraqi stronghold, a US general said Wednesday.” (APF) The Islamic State launched a counterattack at the city of Kirkuk, killing at least 19 people.

Philippines

“Outside the U.S. Embassy in Manila, a protest against the U.S. military presence in the Philippines ended with a violent police crackdown, including a police van ramming into protesters.” (NPR)

“A powerful super typhoon pounded the coast of the Philippines late Wednesday, and aid groups say they are preparing for possible wide-scale damage.” (NPR)

“Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday he was not severing ties with his country’s long-time ally the United States, but merely pursuing a more independent foreign policy by strengthening relations with China.” (Reuters)

Africa

South Africa appears to be undergoing motions to withdraw itself from the International Criminal Court. A document sent to the United Nations said “the Republic of South Africa has found that its obligations with respect to the peaceful resolution of conflicts at times are incompatible with the interpretation given by the International Criminal Court.” Foreign Policy magazine wonders if other countries, such as Kenya, will follow suit. Amnesty International condemned the decision, saying “South Africa’s sudden notice to withdraw from the ICC is a betrayal to millions of victims of the gravest human rights violations.”

The U.S. may escalate its “shadow war” in Somalia by adding more troops. An Al-Jazeera article summarizes the history of U.S. intervention in the region, and speculates that Western countries are trying to control African resources such as gold and oil.

“At least 53 people died when a packed passenger train derailed and overturned in Cameroon, the country’s transport minister says.” (BBC) 300 people were thought to have been wounded.

technology and space

“Europe’s Schiaparelli lander did not behave as expected as it headed down to the surface of Mars on Wednesday as it appeared its rockets fired for too short a time to bring itself to a standstill. Telemetry data recovered from the probe during its descent indicates that its parachute was jettisoned too early.” (DG) The European Space Agency (ESA) said their experimental probe may have exploded upon contact with the surface of Mars.

Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket lifted off to deliver cargo to the International Space Station. A Russian-operated launch facility in Kazakhstan successfully sent off a rocket with the same destination, carrying three astronauts (two Russian and one American).

Elon Musk announced that all Tesla vehicles will have self-driving hardware.

“AT&T Inc has reached an agreement in principle to buy Time Warner Inc for about $85 billion, sources said on Friday, paving the way for what would be the biggest deal in the world this year, giving the telecom company control of cable TV channels HBO and CNN, film studio Warner Bros and other coveted media assets.” (CNBC)

“Dyn, a leading DNS provider, confirmed that it experienced a global denial-of-service attack on its ‘Managed DNS’ infrastructure, causing [widespread] service interruptions across the internet for people on the East Coast.” (TA)

“A number of major Indian banks are taking safety measures amid fears that the security of more than 3.2 million debit cards has been compromised…. The breach is thought to have been caused by malware on an ATM network.” (BBC)