Photo of the Day

Microsoft Founder Bill Gates attends U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres' High-Level meeting on Financing during 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs
Bill Gates pays attention at the high-level meeting on financing.
Image: Reuters/Caitlin Ochs

Missing in action

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi made use of his time away from the UN to hurl invective at his opposition, implying that the Congress Party is backed by Pakistan. Vladimir Putin thanked an oligarch for his hard work. Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo attended a soccer tournament in Mogadishu in athleisure.

Chart interlude

How is each country's share of UN funding assessed? Amanda Shendruk breaks it down
How is each country’s share of UN funding assessed? Amanda Shendruk breaks it down.

Overheard at UNGA

“I am here to represent the president of the Republic of Ghana. He wanted to be here but he had a conflict…something that he is doing somewhere else, all because… (laughs) do I have to say it? Actually he is having a dinner with the president of this great republic [the US].”—Gyan Baffour, Ghana’s Minister for Planning .

“Your wife?”
“She’s still a judge. And yours?”
“She’s still a politician!”—Two men at the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit.

“The world is changing, and UN meetings need to catch up. It’s a lot of prepared speeches. It’s very boring sometimes. You know, there’s an art to hosting meetings.”—A high-level Turkish bureaucrat in the General Assembly cafe.  

“Sorry we’re closed.”
“Ok.” —The art of diplomacy at Cafe de la Paix in the Secretariat.

Acronym of the day

Send us your best guess for the official UN acronym W.I.T.C.H.

Yesterday’s acronym, G.L.U.C.O.S.E means Global Least-cost User-friendly CLEWs Open-Source Exploratory model. Of course it does. Congratulations to the two people who nailed it—remember, we’re on the honor system!

News from around the world

US lawmakers set a date for Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote. The Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled the vote for 9:30am EDT on Friday, less than 24 hours after the Supreme Court nominee and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexual assault, will testify in front of the panel. Senator Dianne Feinstein blasted the move, saying, “Republicans don’t even need to hear her before they move ahead with a vote.”

Pope Francis defended the deal between the Vatican and China. In his first public comments on an agreement signed in Beijing over the weekend, he clarified that the pope—not Beijing—will appoint bishops, but candidates will be proposed by Chinese authorities and members of local Catholic communities. He acknowledged that both sides made compromises and that members of the underground Chinese church “will suffer” as a result.

The Indian Supreme Court upheld the country’s biometric ID project. The five-judge bench ruled that India’s controversial Aadhaar project can still be required for enrollment in government welfare programs, but imposed some restrictions on how the personal data of millions of citizens can be used. Banks and other private companies can no longer use Aadhaar for their verification requirements.

Matters of debate

“Innocent until proven guilty” doesn’t apply to job interviews. Brett Kavanaugh’s liberty isn’t at stake—he’s just a guy who’s up for a job.

Facebook’s trust rankings are untrustworthy. Reputation testimonials are often just as fake as the fake news (paywall) they’re meant to validate.

Teaching Arabic in schools could combat radicalization. A French report recommends more Arabic language classes so that students can learn in a secular setting.

Surprising discoveries

Vaccination rates in rich Los Angeles schools are as low as South Sudan’s. LA parents are filing for “personal belief exemptions,” while South Sudanese ones are dealing with a civil war.

Bees love the buzz of urban life. Their country cousins are living in a bee wasteland created by insecticides.

Scientists are trying to solve the mystery of blinking. Researchers believe we have the medial prefrontal cortex to thank for ensuring the world doesn’t go dark.

Our best wishes for a productive and peaceful day. Please send tips, gossip, and spare umbrellas to You can read more of our UNGA 2018 coverage here. And if you have colleagues or friends who would enjoy these emails, be a leader and forward this along.

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