• WhatsApp, the popular messaging app, has been blocked in China. And the premiere of a film set against the Cultural Revolution — “Youth” — has been abruptly delayed.
Both moves may signal official jitters ahead of the Communist Party congress next month, as the authorities extend control to pave the way for what is expected to be the anointing of President Xi Jinping for five more years in power.
• Rights advocates in the U.S. are challenging President Trump’s latest travel ban, which, citing national security, indefinitely bars most citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea.
Citizens of Iraq and some groups in Venezuela will also face new scrutiny if it goes into effect, as planned, on Oct. 18. New rules on refugees are expected within days.
“President Trump’s original sin of targeting Muslims cannot be cured by throwing other countries onto his enemies list,” said the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
• One aspect of Syria’s future seems increasingly clear: President Bashar al-Assad is here to stay.
The Islamic State is losing ground and Syrian rebels are on the wane, leaving in place a leader considered a pariah in much of the world.
His prize: a blasted, divided land beholden to foreign powers and lacking the resources to rebuild.
• In neighboring Iraq, results are expected within a day or two for the Kurds’ referendum on independence.
The expected strong “yes” vote would not lead to independence anytime soon, but could provide Kurdish leaders leverage for the future.
But the cost could be high. Turkey and Iran have threatened to close borders and impose sanctions, and Iraq considers the vote illegal.
• The C.E.O. of Uber, reacting to the loss of the company’s license to operate in London, issued an open-letter apology for the company’s “mistakes.”
• War rooms? A 21-foot cactus? City officials and business leaders across North America are going to extreme lengths to court Amazon, which is searching for a home for its second headquarters.
• A backlash is building in Silicon Valley against the push for gender equality in tech.
• U.S. stocks fell. Here’s a snapshot of global markets.
In the News
• The Philippine government promised Vietnam a “fair and thorough” investigation into the deaths of two Vietnamese fishermen who were shot dead as they fled a Philippine patrol boat. [The New York Times]
• Officials in Myanmar have accused Muslim Rohingya militants of killing 28 Hindu villagers whose bodies they claim to have discovered in a mass grave. [BBC]
• Australia’s postal survey on same-sex marriage has prompted an outbreak of homophobic violence and vandalism. [The Brisbane Times]
• The Sydney Airport is hoping to resume normal operation while the authorities investigate an air-traffic control outage that disrupted hundreds of flights at the start of school holidays. [Sydney Morning Herald]
• Puerto Rico suffered widespread devastation from Hurricane Maria; U.S. officials are working to get food and water to isolated communities cut off after the storm. [AP]
• Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former New York congressman, was sentenced to 21 months in prison for exchanging lewd texts with a 15-year-old girl. [The New York Times]
• The latest Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is on the brink of failure, but its architects are making last-ditch efforts to keep it afloat. [The New York Times]
• Singapore’s civil defense and environmental agencies are trying to pin down the cause of a widely reported “strong burning smell.” [Channel NewsAsia]
• Chancellor Angela Merkel won her fourth term in power, but nearly 6 million Germans voted for an upstart, populist party that has denounced her: Alternative for Germany. [The New York Times]
• U.N. investigators said Russia had committed “multiple and grave” human rights abuses — including arbitrary detentions, torture and abductions — in Crimea since reclaiming the territory three years ago. [The New York Times]
Tips, both new and old, for a more fulfilling life.
• Are your retirement savings on course? Here are some tips, and more in this week’s newsletter.
• How to find a qualified dog trainer.
• Recipe of the day: Try shaved brussels sprouts salad with pecorino and walnuts.
• One year after giant pandas graduated from endangered to “vulnerable,” Chinese scientists have sobering news: The animals’ natural habitat in China is in serious danger.
• Researchers in Costa Rica are in a race to save chocolate. They’re working to broaden the narrow gene pool of cacao to prevent fast-spreading blights from decimating the crop.
• After President Trump fueled a wave of football protests, we chronicled what every N.F.L. team did during the national anthem on Sunday.
We also took a look at the long history of protests by black athletes — and the equally lengthy tradition of their actions angering mostly white fans and officials.
Thirty-four years ago today, a faulty missile warning took the world close to its first nuclear exchange. But life as we know it continued thanks to one Soviet officer’s cool head.
In the early hours of Sept. 26, 1983, a Soviet computer system reported the launch of five U.S. Minutemen. There were only minutes to counterattack before the missiles could strike Soviet cities.
Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov was in charge of the system that day. He was skeptical, partly because the attack seemed too small. After tense analysis, and a report by satellite radar operators registering no missiles, he alerted his superiors to a false alarm. He later recalled it as a 50-50 decision.
He was right. One of the Soviet satellites that informed the early warning system had misinterpreted the sun’s reflection off clouds.
Colonel Petrov faded into obscurity until a memoir in the late 90s highlighted his role. His death in May was widely reported only last week.
In an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel in 2010 (published in German), he expounded on his decision: “We are wiser than the computers,” he said. “We created them.”
“Believe me,” he added. “I’m not a hero. I just did my job.”
Patrick Boehler contributed reporting.
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