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U.S. Debate Day, The World Is Watching

The United States, and much of the rest of the world, will turn its collective attention tonight to the campus of Hofstra University, where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will hold their first presidential debate. A quick look at the American and international press today shows just how much anticipation there is ahead of what's shaping up to be a very tight race between two very different choices.

Much of the pre-debate chatter has been about politics, often in the smallest sense of the word. Who's going to launch the first insult? How many times will they call each other a liar? Will Trump manage to stick to the script? Will Clinton finally go off-script? Can Trump look presidential? Can Clinton be likeable? Will debate moderator Lester Holt check facts or just his watch?

No doubt, at some point, the question of Syria will be raised. The five-year-long civil war there is escalating again, with Vladimir Putin's Russia and Islamist terrorism making a seemingly intractable situation somehow even more complicated. Just yesterday, after yet another failed ceasefire, dozens of civilians in the city of Aleppo were killed by Russian and Syrian regime bombing raids. What do Clinton and Trump have to say about that? What exactly would they say to Putin right now? Or to the Pentagon brass? Who will win on Nov. 8 is America's decision. But one way or another, the consequences will be felt worldwide.



U.S. ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, and her British and French counterparts, accused Russia of committing war crimes in Syria at a UN Security Council meeting yesterday, The Guardian reports. "What Russia is sponsoring and doing is not counter-terrorism. It is barbarism," Power said. Syrian airstrikes resumed in Aleppo, killing scores of people.


"War is always more costly than peace," Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos told the BBC. Santos is scheduled to sign a historic peace deal today with Marxist rebel group FARC to bring to an end a 52-year war that has ravaged Colombia. "The signature of the deal is simply the end of the conflict. Then the hard work starts, reconstructing our country," he said. See how Colombian daily El Tiempo featured the agreement on its front page.


While we're waiting for the Trump vs. Clinton debate, take a look back at Nixon vs. Kennedy, in your 57-second shot of history!


Bosnian Serbs voted overwhelmingly in favor of keeping their national holiday yesterday, defying a ruling from the Bosnian high court that said the referendum was illegal. With a turnout close to 60%, almost all voters elected to keep Jan. 9 as a "Statehood Day" holiday to mark the Serbian secession from Bosnia in 1992 that sparked a three-year war. The president of the Serb entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Milorad Dodik, said the vote would go down in history as the "day of Serb determination."


After more than five years of construction, China switched on the world's largest radio telescope yesterday, which will allow it to search for signals from stars and galaxies far, far away — and potentially from extraterrestrial life. Measuring 500 meters (1,640 ft) in diameter, it cost the country $180 million to complete.


The Chinese air force held drills in the Western Pacific yesterday for the second time this month, sending fighter jets and bombers near Japan's Okinawa Island, home to several U.S. bases. The South China Morning Post describes the exercise as "sabre-rattling aimed at Tokyo."


Global warming, population booms, rising urbanization and industrialization — an explosive mixture that may make water supplies the world's new spark for armed conflict. For French daily Les Echos, Richard Hiault writes: "Some experts no longer hesitate to say that, in the 21st century, the ‘blue gold' (water) will replace the ‘black gold' (oil) regarding conflicts between states. Since the dawn of mankind, no two countries have ever gone to war over water, apart from two city-states, Lagash and Umma, in lower Mesopotamia around 2,500 BC. The future, however, could be very different."

Read the full article, Water Is The New Oil — The Rising Threat Of "Blue Gold" Wars.


A Roman Catholic priest was found dead yesterday in the central Mexican state of Michoacan, days after he was abducted. He was the third priest to be killed in a week. The motive for the killings is unknown, but it could be related to the priests' stance against drugs. Read more from Reuters.


Southeastern Smile — Yogyakarta, 1991


Golf legend Arnold Palmer, known as "the King," died yesterday at a Pittsburgh hospital at the age of 87. He won more than 90 golf tournaments worldwide, including seven majors, and was the first person to make $1 million playing golf.



A 61-year-old man in Portugal is learning to walk again after he spent 43 years in a wheelchair because of a wrong diagnosis.

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Bibi Blinked: How The Ceasefire Deal Could Flip Israel's Whole Gaza War Logic

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pushed ahead a deal negotiated via Qatar, for a four-day truce and an exchange of 50 hostages for 150 Palestinian prisoners. Though the humanitarian and political pressure was mounting, Israel's all-out assault is suddenly halted, with unforeseen consequences for the future.

photo of someone holding a poster of a hostage

Families of Israeli hostages rally in Jerusalem

Nir Alon/ZUMA
Pierre Haski

Updated Nov. 22, 2023 at 8:55 p.m.


PARIS — It's the first piece of good news in 46 days of war. In the early hours of Wednesday, Israel agreed to a deal that included a four-day ceasefire and the release of some of the hostages held by Hamas — 30 children and 20 women — in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners, again women and children. The real question is what happens next.

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But first, this agreement, negotiated through the intermediary of Qatar, whose role is essential in this phase, must be implemented right away. This is a complex negotiation, because unlike the previous hostage-for-prisoner exchanges, it is taking place in the midst of a major war.

On the Palestinian side, although Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is present in Doha, he does not make the decision alone — he must have the agreement of the leaders of the military wing, who are hiding somewhere in Gaza. It takes 24 hours to send a message back and forth. As you can imagine, it's not as simple as a phone call.

And on the Israeli side, a consensus had to be built around the agreement. Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right allies were opposed to the deal — in line with their eradication logic — even at the cost of Israeli lives. But the opposition of these discredited parties was ignored, and that will leave its mark.

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