Global Scan

For the man who already has everything...


World Taekwondo Federation President Choue Chung-won offers an honorary ninth-degree black belt to Russian President Vladimir Putin.


World Taekwondo Federation

What do you get the man who has everything? How about a gratuitous and arbitrary international martial arts award?

Even President Vladimir Putin seemed bemused, the BBC reported, when he was awarded the elite ninth degree black belt in Taekwondo during a recent visit to South Korea. (That’s one higher than Chuck Norris, if you're keeping score).

But it’s far from the president’s first foray into martial arts. He is a black belt in judo and fans may remember the classic instructional video ‘Let’s Learn Judo with Vladimir Putin’.

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Not in this lifetime

Most of us, perhaps all of us, will spend the rest of our days on this Earth. But the folks at NASA are giving you a glimpse of what life might be like on Mars — that is, 4 billion years ago.

In a video with a soundtrack that rivals the best mainscreen epic, NASA shows the lush, water-filled landscape that was once the red planet. The video is the trailer for a bigger epic —  the new Mars mission, Maven, scheduled to launch next week. has the video.

Philippines: Does the nation need a better leader?

“Lead, Mr. [President] Aquino. Lead.”

Nearly a week after Typhoon Haiyan, and with rescue efforts still only gradually gaining speed, the government of Philippine President Benigno Aquino is facing anger and a political backlash.

At the forefront has been the Manila Times. Their open letter to President Aquino calls on him to lead — or resign.

The most expensive diamond you'll ever see

PRI's The World has a report on the most expensive diamond ever to sell at auction. The Pink Star, 59.6 carats of vivid pink diamond, went for 68 million Swiss francs, or about $83 million. Conceptual gem artist John Hatleberg explains why there's no other gem like it in the world. Don't miss the gallery of Hatleberg's gem creations, including near-perfect counterfeits of the world's most famous diamonds, typically cut for their owners. 

Life, under sanctions

"My boyfriend has a birthday soon, but I can only buy him a small present. The gifts get smaller every year."

Coverage of Iran often focuses on geopolitics or political dissent. But what is everday life like for Iranians struggling under intense economic sanctions? Der Spiegel looks at the diary entries of ordinary Iranians living in tough times.

Would you take this 'invisible' bike helmet for a spin?

Swede Terese Hövding has unveiled a new bicycle helmet — and this one won't mess up your hair.

It works by deploying an air bag around your head when a sensor detects the motion associated with a crash. The helmet has been extensively tested, but won't be widely available for a while, with a list price of 399 euros, or about $530. PRI's The World has the story.

What we're seeing on social

#ICPF2013 is the International Conference on Family Planning, happening in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this year. It wraps up Friday.

Weather around the world

Vietnam is preparing for a soaking over the weekend. Already winged by Typhoon Haiyan, Vietnam is looking at a storm moving through, dumping as many as eight inches of rain in some places, according to AccuWeather. The heavy rains could also extend into Bangkok, Thailand.

You're my favorite deputy

Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to play the peaceful Sheriff while Benjamin Netanyahu is the furious upstart deputy in this cartoon by Israel's Shay Charka. The Israeli leader is concerned about a possible 'bad deal' with Iran over its nuclear program and says it could lead to war.


(c) Shay Charka, Israel

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.