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What's Going On Around The World Today

The leaders of Taiwan and China are planning to meet in Singapore on Saturday for the first time since 1949. Romania’s prime minister said he’s resigning, following protests over a deadly nightclub fire. And Gmail wants to answer your email for you.

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After 66 years, the leaders of China and Taiwan are planning to meet.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Taiwanese counterpart, Ma Ying-jeou, will meet (and dine) in Singapore on Saturday. It’ll be the first time leaders from the two countries will meet since the Chinese Communist revolution of 1949.

The People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949, after the Chinese Communist Party overthrew the government, which at that point had been run by the Chinese Nationalist Party for about two decades, The Economist writes.

As a result, the nationalists fled to Taiwan, an island roughly 100 miles from the China’s mainland. Today, relations between Taiwan and China are still fraught. Technically, a civil war between the two sides never ended and Beijing’s government doesn’t recognize Taiwan’s government in Taipei.

What’s next?

The leaders will address each other by “mister” rather than “president.” Since China thinks of Taiwan as a renegade province, this arrangement gives the two leaders “equal status,” the Associated Press writes.

The meeting is a symbolic move and will likely focus on improving the relationship between the two countries, but “no agreements were envisioned,” the New York Times writes.

“The meeting with Mr. Ma fits with the bold style of Mr. Xi, who has shown that he likes to take more risks in foreign policy than his predecessors,” the Times writes.


Romania’s prime minister said his government is resigning, following protests over a deadly nightclub fire.

Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s announcement comes a day after roughly 20,000 people took to the streets to protest a nightclub fire that killed 32 people and injured 180 people last week, BuzzFeed News’ Francis Whittaker writes.

The fire broke out on Friday, after fireworks were set off in a nightclub in the country’s capital city of Bucharest. A stampede followed the fire, as the crowd tried to get out of the club through the only available, one-door exit. The three owners of the nightclub were arrested, BBC News writes.


Protesters called for the resignation of Ponta as well as other senior government officials, and complained of “government corruption and poor safety supervision,” BBC News writes.

“I am obliged to take note of the legitimate grievances which exist in society,” Ponta said in a statement. “I hope handing in my and my government’s mandate will satisfy the demands of protesters.”

And a little extra.

Some 130 people are still hospitalized. Dozens of them are in serious or critical condition, the AP reports.


Ahmad Chalabi, the man who gave us ISIS, died yesterday.

Without him, “the United States probably would not have invaded Iraq in 2003. If not for the Iraq War, as a senior CIA official flatly told BuzzFeed News earlier this year, there would be no ISIS,” BuzzFeed News’ Aram Roston writes. Chalabi died of heart failure. He was 71.

After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Chalabi — a failed Iraqi banker accused of international financial fraud in the 1980s — and his followers launched a campaign to tie the al-Qaeda attacks to former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. They soon began “telling prominent reporters that Saddam still harbored weapons of mass destruction,” Roston writes.

“He will go down in history as the man who, with bogus intelligence, pushed America into a terrible war,” The New Yorker writes.

Quick things to know:

  • U.S. Election Day 2015: Salt Lake City appears to have elected its first openly gay mayor. (BuzzFeed News) Ohio voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have legalized marijuana for both recreational and medical use. (BuzzFeed News) And in Houston, voters repealed a hotly contested LGBT nondiscrimination law. The result is a loss for LGBT rights groups. (BuzzFeed News)

  • At least 41 people were killed after a cargo plane crashed near the Juba International Airport in South Sudan, reports say. (The Guardian)

  • The president of the Maldives has declared a state of emergency ahead of a major anti-government rally. (BBC News)

  • Mexico’s Supreme Court is about to decide if access to weed is a constitutional right. (BuzzFeed News)

  • Justin Trudeau will be sworn in today as Canada’s new prime minister. (CBC News)

  • Volkswagen says 800,000 vehicles have “unexplained” emissions problems. This finding could turn into a $2.2 billion crisis. (BuzzFeed News)

  • Tropical Cyclone Chapala –– the equivalent of a Category 1 hurricane in strength –– made landfall in Yemen’s fifth-largest city on Tuesday. (BuzzFeed News)

  • The UK government will require internet companies to store websites people visit for a year under a proposed surveillance law. (BBC News)

  • Robin Williams’ widow says the late actor was suffering from a debilitating brain disorder and was rapidly deteriorating when he killed himself in 2014. (BuzzFeed News)

  • Former Daily Show host Jon Stewart signed a four-year contract with HBO to start producing short-form digital content, as well as other possible films and TV shows. (BuzzFeed News)

  • Gmail wants to answer your email for you. Soon it will scan your emails and craft what it thinks is the perfect reply. (BuzzFeed News)

Via Giphy / Via

Starting this week, Google is rolling out a Smart Reply feature for the Inbox by Gmail app, “which will analyze the contents of an email and then suggest three possible short replies,” BuzzFeed News’ Brendan Klinkenberg writes.

If you want the latest news and stories, download the BuzzFeed News app for iOS and Android.

Happy Wednesday

Remember Shiba-san, the loyal shiba inu dog who “worked” at a tobacco store in Tokyo? After many years of dutiful service, the tobacco shop closed and Shiba-san officially retired on Oct. 30, BuzzFeed’s Chelsea Marshall writes. He inspired us with his work ethic, his ever-friendly demeanor, and has moved us with his poise. Greeting hundreds of visitors a week must have been pretty tiring, so enjoy your retirement, Shiba-san, you’ve earned it!

This letter was edited and brought to you by Claire Moses and Brianne O’Brien. You can always reach us here.

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