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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.



WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY



RUSSIA ACCUSED OF WAR CRIMES IN SYRIA

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.


VERBATIM

"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.


— ON THIS DAY

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!


TENSIONS HIGH AFTER BOSNIAN SERBS VOTE IN REFERENDUM

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."


CHINA UNVEILED A GIGANTIC TELESCOPE ...

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.


… AND FLEXED ITS MUSCLES IN THE PACIFIC

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."


— WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

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.


THIRD PRIEST KILLED IN A WEEK IN MEXICO

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.


— MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD

Southeastern Smile — Yogyakarta, 1991


"KING" ARNOLD PALMER DIES

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.


MORE STORIES, EXCLUSIVELY IN ENGLISH BY WORLDCRUNCH

MEDICINE, SCHMEDICINE

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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Coronavirus

Chinese Students' "Absurd" Protest Against COVID Lockdowns: Public Crawling

While street demonstrations have spread in China to protest the strict Zero-COVID regulations, some Chinese university students have taken up public acts of crawling to show what extended harsh lockdowns are doing to their mental state.

​Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling on a soccer pitch

Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling

Shuyue Chen

Since last Friday, the world has watched a wave of street protests have taken place across China as frustration against extended lockdowns reached a boiling point. But even before protesters took to the streets, Chinese university students had begun a public demonstration that challenges and shames the state's zero-COVID rules in a different way: public displays of crawling, as a kind of absurdist expression of their repressed anger under three years of strict pandemic control.

Xin’s heart was beating fast as her knees reached the ground. It was her first time joining the strange scene at the university sports field, so she put on her hat and face mask to cover her identity.

Kneeling down, with her forearms supporting her body from the ground, Xin started crawling with three other girls as a group, within a larger demonstration of other small groups. As they crawled on, she felt the sense of fear and embarrassment start to disappear. It was replaced by a liberating sense of joy, which had been absent in her life as a university student in lockdown for so long.

Yes, crawling in public has become a popular activity among Chinese university students recently. There have been posters and videos of "volunteer crawling" across universities in China. At first, it was for the sake of "fun." Xin, like many who participated, thought it was a "cult-like ritual" in the beginning, but she changed her mind. "You don't care about anything when crawling, not thinking about the reason why, what the consequences are. You just enjoy it."

The reality out there for Chinese university students has been grim. For Xin, her university started daily COVID-19 testing in November, and deliveries, including food, are banned. Apart from the school gate, all exits have been padlock sealed.

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