1. PHOTO OF THE DAY: Two earthquake survivors eat instant noodles on makeshift tables outside a tent at a middle school in Baoxing county of Ya An, China. (Feng Li/Getty Images)

    More photos here.

     

  2. Photos taken over nine consecutive days demonstrate the air pollution levels in the sky over Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Air quality in Beijing has been at “very unhealthy” and “hazardous” levels since the beginning of this year. PHOTO: REUTERS/Wei Yao

     

  3. On this day in 1972: In what was arguably the most dramatic trip ever taken by a president of the United States, Richard Nixon arrived in China for an eight-day visit. The announcement that Nixon, a lifelong hardline anti-communist, would visit China stunned the world. The United States and China had been foes for a quarter-century, but Nixon recognized the need for better ties — which would also help the U.S. in its Cold War standoff with the Soviet Union. During his week-long visit, Nixon met with Mao and Zhou En-Lai; it is seen today as the beginning of China’s drive to modernize and enter the modern world. China’s economy is now the world’s second largest, trailing only that of the U.S itself. Nixon called it “the week that changed the world,” and the phrase “Nixon going to China” has since become a metaphor for an unexpected or uncharacteristic action by a politician.

    Here’s what else happened on this day in history

     


  4. Only in America:

    Verizon claims to have caught an employee — “Bob” — outsourcing his daily coding duties to China so he could spend his time browsing Reddit, watching cat videos, and surfing eBay.

    (Source: theweek.com)

     

  5. Not to be outdone by People's annual ode to chiseled abs, The Onion nominated North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un this year’s “Sexiest Man Alive.” Unfortunately, not everyone was in on the spoof, namely China’s largest Communist Party newspaper, The People’s Daily, which not only took the bait but splashed a 55-page slideshow dedicated to the boyish leader across its homepage. 

    The People’s Daily quotes The Onion, saying:

    With his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman’s dream come true. Blessed with an air of power that masks an unmistakable cute, cuddly side, Kim made this newspaper’s editorial board swoon with his impeccable fashion sense, chic short hairstyle, and, of course, that famous smile.

    How The Onion tricked a Chinese newspaper

    (Source: theweek.com)

     

  6. President Obama and Mitt Romney meet tonight for their third and final presidential debate, and the stakes couldn’t be higher: The polls show the race in a dead heat, and the debate is likely the last event that could dramatically alter the contest’s trajectory. Under pressure to defend his record and solidify his foreign-policy edge, Obama will undoubtedly underscore the killing of Osama bin Laden. For his part, Romney must convince voters that he would make a credible commander-in-chief, while seducing independent voters with an alternate national security vision. Here, a guide to where the candidates stand on key issues:

    1. Libya — The biggest chink in Obama’s foreign-policy armor? The September terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The White House’s response to the attack has been confusing, and Republicans have accused the administration of misleading the public. Romney sought to exploit this advantage, but only hurt himself by appearing to politicize the death of four Americans. His dilemma tonight: To back off Benghazi or go on the offensive? “The national conversation has been about the terrorist attack in Benghazi,” says Peggy Noonan at The Wall Street Journal. “Did the president tell the truth at the time?” But Romney was caught “playing political gotcha with a national tragedy,” says Bill Keller at The New York Times, and another miss could badly hurt his campaign. Obama’s job is to make sure “the political spin stops,” says Juan Williams at The Hill. “The bottom line is there is no evidence so far to support the Romney camp’s claim of incompetence or a cover-up.”

    2. The Arab Spring — Romney has heavily criticized Obama for his handling of the Arab Spring, suggesting that stable, pro-American regimes would have emerged following the fall of dictators in Egypt and Libya if the president had taken a firmer hand. While it’s unclear what Romney would have done differently, Spencer Ackerman at Wired summarizes the debate thus: “[Does the U.S. need] to involve itself deeper in the Arab Spring; pick favorites within the uprisings; or stand back as the upheaval proceeds?” Obama is under pressure to defend his hands-off, country-by-country approach, while articulating a broader foreign policy argument that explains why “he’ll intervene in Libya but not Syria,” says Ackerman. Romney, for his part, “has yet to distinguish his geopolitical plans from Obama’s without seeming like he’s out to start a whole new war.”

    3. Iran and Israel — Romney has hammered Obama for failing to halt Iran’s suspected progress toward a nuclear weapon; this dovetails with Romney’s claim that Obama hasn’t been a good friend to Israel. However, both candidates essentially have the same policy: A stated determination to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and a vow to keep all options — from diplomacy to military force — on the table. Romney is having so much trouble distinguishing himself from Obama that he ends up sounding like a “foreign policy love child” of Obama and George W. Bush, says Sally Kohn at Salon. “Rhetorically, Romney sounds almost exactly like George W. Bush. In terms of what he’d do on the ground in places like Iran [however]… Romney sounds exactly like Barack Obama.” Unless Romney can convince voters that his policies to stop Iran and protect Israel are distinct from Obama’s, says Keith Koffler at Reuters,the president will continue to enjoy his healthy advantage with Jewish voters.

    4. Afghanistan — Afghanistan is another area in which Romney has struggled to differentiate himself from the president. Romney says “he would hew to President Obama’s timeline to withdraw U.S. troops by the end of 2014,” says Maeve Raeston at the Los Angeles Times, “but he would part ways with the president by giving greater deference to the judgment of military commanders.” However, it remains unclear what Romney would do if the military’s top brass called for keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan past 2014. Obama has used Romney’s “past statements to argue that Romney’s commitment to Afghanistan could be open-ended,” says Raeston, which could be a problem for the 60 percent of voters who favor a speedy withdrawal from the country.

    5. China — Here, Romney and Obama have real differences. Romney has vowed to dub China a “currency manipulator” on his first day in office, a designation that would almost certainly spark a self-defeating trade war. Romney “wouldn’t be the first candidate to pummel China on the campaign trail and make nice in the White House,” says Keller. “But the stridency of [his] protectionist rhetoric…makes many of [his] supporters cringe.” Indeed, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the country’s largest business lobbying group,opposes such a move. However, polls show that “Americans have turned increasingly negative toward China and its trade policies,” says Howard LaFranchi at The Christian Science Monitor, which means Romney may be on the right track, politically speaking. Obama’s challenge is to sound suitably tough on China without alienating one of the U.S.’s largest trading partners.

    6. Defense spending — Romney has claimed that the “U.S. military is in danger of becoming a ‘hollow force’ under Obama because of potential cuts,” say Indira A.R. Lakshmanan and Margaret Talev at Bloomberg. Romney has proposed reversing a planned $1 trillion in Defense Department cuts and adding another $1 trillion in spending over the next 10 years, measures he argues are necessary to ensure American military superiority. Obama is also opposed to the cuts, but has shot down proposals to boost military spending after that, saying it’s simply unaffordable. The fight over defense spending is one of the few areas of the debate that will touch directly on domestic policy, with the candidates outlining their priorities when it comes to reducing the budget deficit.

    Oh, and don’t miss: The final presidential debate: A viewer’s guide

     

  7. Skateboarding through a ghost town — A group of lucky skaters live every kid’s dream of tearing their way through an eerie ghost town unchecked by authorities. This short takes place in Ordos, a northern China city that’s nearly completely deserted thanks to soaring property taxes. 

    More awesomeness can be found in our list of this week’s best of the internet

     

  8. Top: Deng Shuai, 14, holds a portrait of his father as he walks with a young boy after a burial ceremony on Sept. 10. The teenager’s father was one of at least 81 people killed after two earthquakes hit Yiliang, Yunnan province, an impoverished, mountainous region in southwestern China.
    PHOTO: REUTERS/Jason Lee 

    Left: Britain’s Andy Murray appears to unleash a primal scream after defeating Serbia’s Novak Djokovic during the championship match at the 2012 US Open tennis tournament on Sept. 10. This is the Scot’s first grand slam title of his career.
    PHOTO: AP Photo/Darron Cummings

    Right: The Tribute in Light illuminates the sky over Lower Manhattan on the 11-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in New York, September 11, 2012.
    PHOTO: REUTERS/Eric Thayer

    More of this week’s best photojournalism

    (Source: theweek.com)

     

  9. One of the most emotional moments from the London Olympics: Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang finishes the 110-meter hurdles on one leg after crashing into his first obstacle and injuring his achilles on Tuesday. At the 2008 Olympics, he’d failed to clear a single hurdle, even though just four years prior, at the 2004 Games, Liu became the first Chinese man to claim a gold medal in track and field. This time around, he hobbled to the finish and was met by Balazs Baji of Hungary, who raised Liu’s hand in the air to declare him an honorary winner.

    The 7 most heartbreaking Olympic moments

     

  10. On Sunday, as Hong Kong swore in Leung Chun-ying as the city’s chief executive, thousands protested outside. Between 55,000 (police estimates) and 400,000 (organizers’ guess) protesters marched through Hong Kong, demanding Leung’s resignation, a say in his replacement, and an end to what they call the mainland’s meddling in the semi-autonomous territory.

    Protests and free speech are one of the perks of Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” agreement with China’s Communist Party. But the sheer size of the pro-democracy march — the largest anywhere in China since a 500,000-strong Hong Kong demonstration in 2003 — poses a challenge to the authoritarian regime in Beijing. 

    Could Hong Kong’s drive for more freedom and democracy threaten the Chinese Communist Party’s grip on power?

     


  11. China only allows 34 foreign movies to be shown in theaters per year…

    … which means studios have to compete for precious few slots. 

    Hollywood sees China, with its massive population and a rapidly growing middle class, as an irresistible source of revenue growth, particularly at a time when fewer Americans are going to the movies. China has about 6,000 movie theaters, which is expected to climb to 40,000 by 2040. By 2015, movie revenue is projected to reach $5 billion.

    It’s not hard to imagine why the SEC is investigating whether major Hollywood studios have been bribing Chinese officials.

    A guide to the controversy

     

  12. Rhino horns are now selling for $25,000 a pound in underground markets — more than the cost of cocaine. In Vietnam and China, the substance is used by some to treat everything from headaches to fevers and even cancer. The medicinal benefits are scientifically unproven, but illegal poaching is at an all-time high.

    $25,000 — Cost per pound of crushed rhino horn powder

    $16,000 — Cost per pound of cocaine in the United States

    28,000 — Rhinos remaining worldwide

    448 — Rhinos killed in South Africa in 2011, an all-time high

    160 — Rhinos killed in South Africa since January 2012

    0 — Wild rhinos remaining in Vietnam. The last known rhino in the country was found dead with its horns hacked off in 2010.

    More numbers

     

  13. The Fair Labor Association (FLA) has announced that Foxconn, the Chinese manufacturing giant that produces Apple products, will introduce policies intended to improve conditions in its much-criticized factories. Most significantly, Foxconn is limiting the amount of overtime employees can work — and they’re going on a hiring spree to make up for the lost hours.

    Do higher labor costs mean more expensive iPhones? Probably not. “Labor is only a small percentage of the total cost of a product,” market researcher Tom Dinges tells Wired, and Apple and Foxconn will likely just eat these relatively small increases rather than pass them onto consumers.

    Read more: The changes coming to Foxconn