Midday Roundup: Obama woos allies at the UN

by Leigh Jones
Posted 9/24/14, 01:07 pm

Diplomacy and coffee. President Barack Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly this morning, urging other nations to follow America’s lead in fighting ISIS and Ebola. The president also tried to drum up support for isolating Russia economically in response to its support of rebels in Ukraine. The world is at a crossroads between war and peace, disorder and integration, the president told delegates. Absent any lofty oratory, Obama’s speech is not likely to generate as much buzz as a pre-speech breach of etiquette. As he got off Marine One, the helicopter that ferried him to New York, Obama didn’t bother to put down his coffee cup as he saluted the Marines standing at the base of the stairs. Critics say the president’s #lattesalute was disrespectful. Could the president’s coffee energize a new round of election-season attack ads?

Ebola suffering continues. Villagers in northern Guinea attacked a Red Cross team trying to bury bodies of people believed to have died of Ebola. None of the workers was killed, but one suffered injuries to his neck. It’s the second significant attack in the last week on a team of workers trying to address the epidemic that threatens to overwhelm West Africa. Estimates of the number of Ebola cases likely to occur by the end of the year have jumped dramatically, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying yesterday the number could climb as high as 1.4 million by January. If the death rate holds at about 50 percent, 700,000 could succumb to the disease. But other health experts say the CDC estimates, which try to account for the number of unreported or underreported cases, have gone too far. Sierra Leone lifted a three-day, countrywide lockdown earlier this week, reporting health workers who went door-to-door found 100 bodies and 200 people suspected of suffering from Ebola.

Another thwarted attack? Australian police shot and killed an 18-year-old who may have been plotting an attack against Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Numen Haider stabbed two officers outside a suburban Melbourne police station before he was killed. Officials say he had been under surveillance for about three months because of his radical views. He was researching the prime minister’s travel plans and might have been planning to go to Iraq and Syria. Police said when Haider arrived at the station, they thought he was there to talk. He allegedly attacked the officers without warning. According to media reports, police believe he might have planned to behead the officers and post photos of the aftermath online.

Big-box bank. Walmart announced this morning it plans to offer low-cost checking accounts to customers via a partnership with Green Dot Bank, which operates the mobile banking platform GoBank. The big-box retailer already offers a prepaid debit card, a credit card, check cashing, and money transfers. “Our customers really don’t feel they are getting a great value from traditional services, particularly checking accounts,”Daniel Eckert, vice president of financial services for Walmart U.S., told The Washington Post. “Adding GoBank gives our customers another option to better manage their money without the unnecessary complexity and sky-high fees of other accounts.” GoBank offers accounts with no overdraft fees and no minimum balance requirements. Monthly fees cost $8.95 but are waived for customers who deposit at least $500 each month.

Memorial misconduct. Protests erupted again in Ferguson, Mo., on Tuesday after a makeshift memorial to teenager Michael Brown caught fire that morning. Protesters who gathered again on West Florissant Avenue said they believed the fire was set intentionally. Firefighters say candles used in the memorial likely are to blame. The protesters vandalized a beauty supply store that had just reopened after the weeks of unrest following Brown’s death on Aug. 9. A banner hanging in the store’s window proclaimed “Beauty Town is back!” Two people were arrested.

Leigh Jones

Leigh lives in Houston with her husband and daughter. She is the news editor for The World and Everything in It and reports on education for WORLD Digital.

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