Chatter: Obama comes out swinging in round two




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Need to know:
Democrats had no doubt spent a nervous two weeks waiting to see whether Barack Obama would fare any better in the second presidential debate than he did in the first. Last night, to their relief, he came out swinging.

Maybe he'd taken some tips from Joe "Malarky" Biden. Maybe the on-stage audience kept him sharp. Maybe he just liked being able to amble around the stage, cordless mike in hand, like a really boring cabaret act. Whatever it was, the president was miles more aggressive in New York than he had been in Denver – quite literally, all up in Mitt Romney's face.

As for Romney's performance, he made some pertinent points about... wait, we're sorry, we'll get back to those once we've stopped laughing at this "binders full of women" meme.

Pollsters say first results gave Obama the win. You can let us know what you think in our poll, here.

Want to know:
Pakistan has issued a $1-million bounty on the Taliban spokesman who announced that his group was behind the shooting of Malala Yousafzai.

Ehsanullah Eshan, a member of the Pakistani Taliban, was the first to claim responsibility for the attack on the 14-year-old activist. Police in Pakistan have so far arrested three suspects and continue to hunt for the militants that they say masterminded the hit.

Not many people would want to be blamed for attempting to murder a child, but the Taliban don't want to leave any doubt that they were behind the shooting, which they say was punishment for Malala's opposition to their restriction of girls' rights. Yet that hasn't stopped some in Pakistan speculating that the attack was somehow orchestrated by the US, in a wild bid to win support for the war in Afghanistan.

Dull but important:
Rwanda's defense minister is covertly commanding a rebellion in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the United Nations.

A rebel movement, dubbed M23, has been fighting government forces in the eastern DRC for around six months. Now, a leaked UN report says the rebels have been taking direct military orders from the head of the Rwandan army – who is in turn instructed by Rwandan Defense Minister James Kabarebe. The Ugandan government is also accused of offering "more subtle support."

Rwanda's military has already been accused of funneling recruits, arms and ammunition to the rebels, who have practically annexed DRC's mineral-rich North Kivu province on the Rwandan and Ugandan borders. Rwanda denied those allegations and has rejected these even more serious ones, as has Uganda.

The DRC, however, says the evidence is so damning that the UN must act.

Just because:
Two American servicemen are accused of raping a Japanese woman near the US military base on Okinawa.

The two men, both sailors and both in their early 20s, were arrested by Japanese police yesterday. The US embassy in Japan says it is "extremely concerned" by the allegations and will cooperate fully to investigate them. That's too little, too late for Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, however, who said: "This should never have been allowed to happen."

He and everyone else must be remembering the time, in 1995, when three US servicemen on Okinawa gang-raped a 12-year-old girl. That incident sparked outrage and compounded locals' resentment of the sprawling US base, which they say dominates their island, increases crime and places them in the flight path of dangerous military aircraft.

Strange but true:
When Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard made a blistering 15-minute speech on sexism in politics last week, she didn't just school her opponents – she rewrote the book.

Specifically, Australia's biggest dictionary, the Macquarie, which is changing its definition of "misogyny" to reflect the way Gillard deployed it in parliament. Instead of simply "hatred of women," the word will also be given to mean "entrenched prejudice against women," the dictionary's editors have announced.

That's just one more reason why Gillard's now-viral oration is awesome. Nobody puts Julia in a binder – though they can put her in a reference book.