Global Scan

US government shuts down, as the world makes fun of us...


Mexican cartoonist Dario Castillejos gave this an apt title: "The Weight of the Republicans." Castillejos draws for Diario La Crisis in Oaxaca.

Welcome to the first day of the US government shutdown, which sees Republicans insisting on Obamacare changes, and Democrats vowing any changes to Obamacare are DOA.

The world is watching, wondering who's to blame, and laughing... as Mexican cartoonist Dario Castillejos portrays the Republican elephant as the weight breaking the US.

At least the headline writers and satirists haven't shut down. This current political impasse has given us some remarkable headlines — and the articles that go with them aren't half bad either. To wit:

The U.S. joins failed states around the world in telling prison guards, border patrol to work for free (Max Fischer/Washington Post)

This story in Slate has to be read to be fully understood:  The capital’s rival clans find themselves at an impasse, unable to agree on a measure that will allow the American state to carry out its most basic functions. While the factions have come close to such a shutdown before, opponents of President Barack Obama’s embattled regime now appear prepared to allow the government to be shuttered over opposition to a controversial plan intended to bring the nation’s health care system in line with international standards. (Slate)

And if you don't understand the shutdown, the Brits are here to help. The Guardian has a summary of what's happened and where we go from here.

But, hey, at least we have some company in this whole dysfunctional government schtick. The Belgians have the record on non-functioning government.

Walking dead?

Do you sometimes find it difficult to resist the lure of a cigarette? Perhaps you associate it with relaxation? You should probably avoid lighting up on the streets of London, then.

Life inside the house of surrogate mothers

“To see my children get everything I ever dreamt of, that's why I have become a surrogate."

BBC Online has a fascinating and moving report from inside one of India’s surrogacy houses — also known as "baby factories" — clinics where childless couples can pay another woman to give birth for them.

Now he stands, now he falls — a town's difficult history with Stalin statue

Great reporting from the Wall Street Journal from the hometown of former Soviet strongman Josef Stalin — the town of Gori in Georgia. Joe Parkinson looks at how changing attitudes toward the dictator are reflected in the town’s difficult relationship with a 20-foot bronze statue.

Cartel customer service continues to improve

The International Centre for Science in Drug Policy reports that heroine, cocaine and cannabis are now globally cheaper and purer than at any time in the last 20 years

Greek Neo-Nazi lawmarkers indicted for murder

“One word leaps out at you from the […] indictment document against Golden Dawn. It is 'fuhrerprinzip'”

Britain’s Channel 4 news has been digging into the details of Golden Dawn — the Neo Nazi party that has become Greece’s third largest political party since the country’s economic collapse.  Also worth checking is this short film from March, when Channel 4 went on the campaign trail with a violent Golden Dawn candidate (campaign slogan: "We are ready to open the ovens").

If God could build cathedrals, it would look like this

The Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona has been an architectural wonder ever since construction started a century ago. Now, though, the firm behind its current work is showing what the final structure will look like once it's completed — in 2026.

What we're seeing on social

Weather around the world

It's downright chilly in Bucharest, Romania, where the temperatures struggled to reach 49 degree Fahrenheit on Monday — the first time since April 9 that the temperatures didn't reach or exceed 50 degrees. Today, the forecast calls for a high of just 46 — plus a whole lot of rain.

This post is a new feature of It's a daily brief and email newsletter of stories, events and graphics that are catching the attention of our news staff. The World's Leo Hornak kicks it off from London and various folks on our editorial team around the globe contribute from there, like Cartoon Editor Carol Hills in Boston. Don't expect anything near the standard wrap of major news stories. This blog post and its email companion will be as idiosyncratic as our staff... and we'll want you to tell us what you like and don't like. Sign up for a account and subscribe to our newsletter to get it delivered to your inbox. The newsletter arrives during the US morning hours.