A woman walks among the Spanish flags placed in memory of coronavirus victims in Madrid, Spain, Sept. 27, 2020.

A woman walks among the Spanish flags placed in memory of coronavirus victims in Madrid, Spain, Sept. 27, 2020.


Manu Fernandez/AP

Top of The World — our morning news roundup written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

The global death toll from the coronavirus has surged past 1 million, a grim tally for a pandemic that continues to wreak havoc on public health systems, economies and daily life for most people across the globe.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement that “our world has reached an agonizing milestone.” He described the fatality statistic as “a mind-numbing figure” but added that “we must never lose sight of each and every individual life. They were fathers and mothers, wives and husbands, brothers and sisters, friends and colleagues.”

At the present rate, with infections surging across several continents, more than 5,400 people die around the globe every 24 hours or an average of 226 people an hour and one person every 16 seconds. Particularly deadly outbreaks are continuing to beset the United States — which has more than 7.1 million reported infections and over 200,000 deaths — followed by India, Brazil and Mexico.

However, officials caution that the official numbers understate the true total because of insufficient COVID-19 testing, poor record-keeping and possible falsification in certain countries. Yet, scientists remain puzzled — and impressed — by consistently low fatality numbers in some parts of Asia, Africa and Europe.

What The World is following

Visiting a US naval base on the eastern Mediterranean island of Crete, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated support for talks between Greece and Turkey, two NATO members that have increasingly been on the verge of violent conflict over undersea gas deposits. Athens has turned to the EU and US for backing after Ankara provocatively dispatched a research vessel — joined by warships — to scout for energy assets in a disputed, maritime area.

On Tuesday evening, President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, will take the debate stage in Cleveland to present their radically divergent messaging on how to solve multiple crises facing the nation. In their first scheduled debate, Biden and Trump will defend their respective political records, and address topics ranging from the pandemic and recession to racial justice and urban violence. The tone of the televised encounter will likely be shaped by the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and by revelations about Trump’s tax history — about the puny sums he has paid in taxes and huge business losses and massive foreign debts to as-yet unknown lenders.

From The World

What Trump’s taxes mean for national security

Susan Hennessey, executive editor of the Lawfare blog, said that Donald Trump's taxes raise serious questions about the president's debts.

"The fact that the president of the United States owes somewhere between $300 and $400 million in debt that is going to come payable over the next four years — that mere fact alone — raises really, really serious questions about who the president owes money to, and whether or not those debts, when they finally come due, might ultimately induce or influence the president to do some things that are more in his personal financial interest than in the interests of the United States," she said.

"The way to think about that is as a national security issue," Hennessey added.

Lebanese take to the sea — risking their lives to reach Europe

Lebanon is suffering its worst financial crisis in decades. The Aug. 4 blast that destroyed the Beirut port also shattered the last bit of hope many had in their country, and any trust they had left in their leaders.

Until recently, it was mostly Syrian and Palestinian refugees making the trip across that part of the Mediterranean Sea. But increasingly, Lebanese citizens are filling the boats.

Bright spot

The much-anticipated return of "The Great British Bake Off" offered a unique challenge to contestants in the famous baking tent — cakes of famous people. And while viewers delight at the amateur bakers working their way through difficult pâtisserie, celebrity busts resulted in something well ... different.

In case you missed it

Listen: The national security risks of Trump’s foreign financial entanglements

President Donald Trump is shown standing at a podium with TV monitoris and US flags behind him.

President Donald Trump gestures while speaking during a news conference at the White House, Sept. 27, 2020.


Carolyn Kaster/AP

US President Donald Trump owes hundreds of millions of dollars to a foreign bank, The New York Times reports, and he regularly pays taxes to several foreign governments — while paying little to no tax to the US government. His foreign financial entanglements might pose issues for US national security. And, Southeast Asian nations seeing large investments from China. But opening the door to investment from China also comes with risks. Plus, two years ago, scientists were shocked to find a large, watery lake beneath the icy south pole on Mars. Now, the same scientists are getting clearer answers on the potential for life on the Red Planet.

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