1 | London
Britain Tightens Its Belt
With the U.K. facing Europe's biggest budget deficit, the government announced a series of sweeping spending cuts over the next four years. George Osborne, the nation's finance minister, claimed the austerity measures would take the U.K. "back from the brink of bankruptcy." But critics say the cuts are far too drastic and threaten the very social fabric of the country. Nearly half a million public-sector jobs will be axed, and spending throughout the government's departments will be trimmed by an average of 19%. Even Buckingham Palace has agreed to a shrunken royal budget, while another British institution, the BBC World Service, will also make do with less.
A sampling of British budget cuts
-60% AFFORDABLE HOUSING
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
2 | Beijing
China's Next President?
The Chinese Communist Party named Vice President Xi Jinping to a high military post on Oct. 18, virtually assuring that the party up-and-comer will succeed President Hu Jintao in 2013. Experts say strengthening Xi's military credentials was the last step in the likely succession process. Xi, who organized the 2008 Beijing Olympics, has kept a low profile but is said to support new measures to grow China's market-based economy while holding conservative views on political reform.
3 | Washington
The Battle over 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Continues
On Oct. 20, a day after the Pentagon said it had ordered recruiters to allow openly gay men and women to enlist in the armed services--a reversal of the 17-year-old "Don't ask, don't tell" policy--a federal appeals court threw the issue into further confusion by temporarily reinstating the ban. The reversal came at the behest of the Justice Department, which filed a challenge to U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips' Oct. 12 injunction. While the Obama Administration supports a repeal of DADT at a later date, it says a repeal should come only through an act of Congress.
4 | Afghanistan
Talking with the Taliban
On Oct. 15, General David Petraeus, commander of NATO and U.S. troops in Afghanistan, said coalition forces helped Taliban leaders travel to Kabul from their hideouts in Pakistan for talks with the Afghan government. Days later, the New York Times reported that high-level discussions were taking place. According to the Times, members of both the Taliban leadership based in the Pakistani border city of Quetta and the al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network, though not senior Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar, are involved.
5 | Iran
Iraqi Leader Gets Tehran's Blessing