Chatter: Presidential debates end, presidential race continues




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Need to know:
"Much ado about very little." That was the verdict from GlobalPost's election-watcher-in-chief, Jean MacKenzie, on last night's third and final presidential debate.

It was supposed to be 90 minutes of wrangling over recent foreign policy, ongoing military engagement and America's role in the world – and goodness knows, there's enough to talk about there. But President Barack Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney – inevitably keen to capitalize on one of their last remaining opportunities on prime time – soon turned the talk to national debt, job creation, education policy, horses, bayonets and, er, so forth.

Snap surveys said 48 percent of debate watchers gave Obama the victory, as opposed to 40 percent for Romney. But fully 50 percent said the event had no effect on their decision who to vote for. (Take our poll here.)

Today both Romney and Obama are hitting the campaign trail harder than ever, and they'll need to – this one's set to be a nail-biter right down to Nov. 6.

Want to know:
The emir of Qatar has arrived on a landmark trip to the Gaza Strip.

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani is the first head of state to visit the territory since Hamas came to power there in 2007. He is expected to launch a $254-million investment project to rebuild homes in Gaza, which has suffered both physical and economic damage from military conflict with Israel and an ongoing blockade.

The Hamas government is hailing Sheikh Hamad as "the first Arab leader to break the political siege." He's also one of the few people to get Israel and the Palestinian Authority to agree: both have expressed concerns that his trip undermines "legitimate" representatives of the Palestinian people in favor of Islamist, anti-Israel Hamas.

Dull but important:
British lawmakers have questioned the head of the BBC about one of the biggest scandals in the public broadcaster's history.

BBC Director General George Entwistle appeared before a committee of MPs to explain why the late Sir Jimmy Savile – one of the corporation's star radio and TV presenters for some 40 years – was never investigated despite multiple accusations of prolific sexual abuse of teenagers and children, some of it in BBC dressing rooms. Not only that, following Savile's death last year, the BBC shelved a TV documentary on the allegations and broadcast glowing tributes to the supposedly beloved entertainer.

The editor who pulled the story has since stepped down, the BBC has opened investigations into possible abuse by Savile and any other employees, and, Entwistle says, the "culture" that allowed concerns to go unheard has changed.

The British public is used to reports of sordid behavior at its famously sleazy tabloids. But suspected pedophilia, at the nation's media "Auntie"? However Entwhistle answers today, the questions are set to continue for many months to come.

Just because:
In Taiwan, a fire at a hospital has killed at least 12 patients and injured 72.

The fire broke out early this morning in a nursing home facility in the Sinying Hospital in Tainan city. Many of its elderly patients were bedridden, and would have been too frail to escape the flames. They died of smoke inhalation.

The cause of the fire, the deadliest in Taiwan in recent memory, is being investigated.

Strange but true:
It's the stuff of a million sci-fi thrillers: meteor plummets to earth, crushes cities and expendable bit-part actors, chaos ensues. Thankfully for human civilization, the city was just one house, it wasn't crushed, and no one died, not even an extra.

Instead, debris from the Orionid meteor shower hit a home in Navato, California, bounced off the roof and was later found on the lawn. All pretty non-chaotic, but the fact that one of the inhabitants is a priest led some to speculate whether the strike was cosmically ordained.

No, says commonsense home-owner (and priest's wife) Lisa Webber, "it's just science."

"It's like the heavens coming down, and history and this thing probably came from an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter – I mean, how cool is that?"