Terror attack in New York City, Russia to host new summit on Syria

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  • Eight people were killed after a man in a rented commercial pickup truck drove down a bike path in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City, according to the New York Daily News.  The driver was apprehended by authorities. Mayor Bill De Blasio called the incident an act of terror in a tweet. Media named the offending suspect as Sayfullo Saipov, an immigrant who came to the US in 2010. CNN and The New York Times both reported that officials found a note left by the suspect which claimed he carried out the attack in the name of the Islamic State militant group.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin will host a summit about resolving Syria’s civil war that will for the first time include Syria’s main Kurdish groups in peace talks. Reuters reports that  the meeting – slated for November – will also include select anti-Assad rebels and the Syrian government.
  • Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said he was not seeking asylum in Belgium at a press conference in Brussels, where he had travelled after his parliament was dissolved by the Spanish government last weekend. The leader, who was accompanied by several members of his administration, said he will continue the struggle for Catalan independence from Brussels, according to the Irish TimesBut he said he would return to Catalonia if given “guarantees” by the Spanish government about a future trial.
    • Puigdemont has been at the centre of Catalonia’s push for independence, after hosting a referendum on October 1 to secede from Spain that was met with violence between Spanish police and voters.
  • A UK police investigation into allegations of sexual harassment by U.S. film producer Harvey Weinstein widened from three to seven women today. The separate incidents took place between the 1980s and 2015 in London and outside of the UK but no arrests have been made yet, the Metropolitan Police said.  The fresh allegations are part of a slew of accusations of sexual misconduct against people in positions of power across the globe, including actor Kevin Spacey and British MPs.
  • Facebook told U.S. lawmakers that Russia-based users published around 80,000 posts in the build-up to last year’s presidential election with the apparent aim of influencing the debate. The posts mainly focused on divisive issues such as gun control and race relations, according to files Facebook submitted to Congress and seen by Reuters. Executives from Facebook, along with counterparts from Twitter and Google, will appear before Congress this week.
  • Six hundred detainees are refusing to leave Australia’s Manus detention centre, blocking the government’s attempts to shut it down. The offshore detention centre has been heavily criticised by rights groups for years. The detainees, who are being told to return to their countries of origin or settle in Papua New Guinea, where the Manus centre is based, say they fear violence from local residents. As news website The Conversation recounts, the refugees have few alternatives: a resettlement programme agreed with the U.S. under the Obama administration became a point of dispute between President Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

What we’re reading

  • Pope Francis is making enemies, fast, according to the Guardian. A liberal darling, the leader of the Catholic Church is facing increasingly virulent opposition from conservative Catholic leaders who believe his reforms might divide, even split, the church. “Francis’s cautious reforms seem to his opponents to threaten the belief that the church teaches timeless truths. And if the Catholic church does not teach eternal truths, conservatives ask, what is the point of it?” – George Engels
  • A long read for Halloween: medical doctor and writer Gavin Francis discusses lycanthropy, the ‘werewolf’ syndrome, for the London Review of Books – Angela Long
  • Tomorrow is the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, in which the British government backed the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. Al Jazeera carries a gallery looking back at British rule in Palestine and British foreign secretary Arthur Balfour’s 1917 visit to the region.

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