Syria: An air strike has killed 15 children and two women sheltering in the basement of a school in the Syrian rebel-held town of Arbin in Eastern Ghouta, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says. There was no immediate comment from Damascus, which says its forces only target militants and accuses the Ghouta factions of holding civilians against their will — a charge rebels deny. The British-based monitoring group said the strike wounded more than 50 people in the enclave. Meanwhile, Turkish forces will press their offensive against Kurdish YPG fighters along the length of Turkey's border with Syria and if necessary into northern Iraq, President Tayyip Erdogan says. Turkish troops and their rebel allies swept into the northwest Syrian town of Afrin yesterday. Today, a Turkish aid group started distributing relief supplies in the town centre. But residents continued to leave after widespread reports of looting.

United States: Time's Up, an initiative started by a powerhouse group of Hollywood industry women to fight systemic sexual harassment, called for New York's Governor to investigate the Manhattan District Attorney's office over a decision in 2015 not to prosecute a sex abuse case against Harvey Weinstein. The group says a report in New York magazine is disturbing because it suggests the District Attorney's office may have been improperly influenced by Weinstein and sought to intimidate an Italian model who accused the disgraced media mogul of groping her. The article centres on the case of Ambra Battilana Gutierrez. In 2015, police conducted a sting after she accused Weinstein of groping her, secretly recording Weinstein apologising for this conduct. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance jnr ultimately decided there wasn't enough proof and didn't bring a case.

Britain: Inspectors from the world's chemical weapons watchdog have begun examining the poison used to strike down a former Russian double agent in England, in an attack that London blames on Moscow. Britain says Sergei Skripal and his daughter, who are critically ill in hospital, were targeted with the Soviet-era military-grade nerve agent Novichok. It accuses Moscow of stockpiling the toxin and investigating how to use it in assassinations. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the claims were nonsense and that Russia had destroyed all its chemical weapons.

Middle East: The Palestinian President called the US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman a "son of a dog" in an angry rant against the Trump Administration, signalling new trouble ahead for an expected US peace proposal. President Mahmoud Abbas also took aim at the rival Hamas militant group, accusing it of being behind an attempted assassination last week of his prime minister and security chief, and threatening to retaliate. Abbas criticised the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the American plan to move its embassy to the city and the cutoff of hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. He also condemned Friedman's close ties with the West Bank settler movement.


France: New Caledonia will hold a referendum on November 4 on whether to break away from France and become independent. Talks on the future of the island, which lies 20,000km from Paris, began in 1988 after a period of separatist conflict, including the "Ouvea cave massacre" in which 19 Kanaks and two French soldiers were killed. A deal in 1998 provided for a referendum on independence to be held by the end of 2018.

Spain: The head of a Spanish aid group said that he fears several staff members could be charged with human trafficking after they refused to hand over rescued migrants to the Libyan coast guard and took them to Italy instead. Proactiva Open Arms founder Oscar Camps told reporters in Barcelona, Spain, where the group is based, that Italy impounded his organisation's rescue boat yesterday and he is worried the ship, Open Arms, might not be returned. Italian authorities say they are investigating the aid group for suspected criminal association and aiding illegal immigration. Proactiva said the investigation stems from a tense high-seas standoff last Friday, when the Open Arms crew refused to relinquish the 218 people they had just picked up in international waters 70 nautical miles from the Libyan coast.

United States: A lawyer who has suggested that FBI officials were part of a "brazen plot" to exonerate Hillary Clinton and frame Donald Trump has been added to the President's legal team. Joseph diGenova, a former US Attorney in the District of Columbia and a frequent television commentator, will work alongside lawyers John Dowd and Jay Sekulow.

Space: Our first known interstellar visitor likely came from a two-star system. That's the latest from astronomers who were amazed by the mysterious cigar-shaped object, detected as it passed through our inner solar system last year. The University of Toronto's Alan Jackson reported today that the asteroid — the first confirmed object in our solar system originating elsewhere — is probably from a binary star system. That's where two stars orbit a common centre. According to Jackson and his team, the asteroid was likely ejected from its system as planets formed. "It has been wandering interstellar space for a long time since," the scientists wrote in the Royal Astronomical Society's journal, Monthly Notices.

Australia: Research has found two in three teenagers wrongly believe 'social' or occasional smoking is harmless, prompting concern from public health experts.
Analysis of the Victorian Secondary Students' Alcohol and Drug survey of 4500 12 to 17-year-olds conducted in 2014 reveals awareness about the dangers of tobacco smoking has not improved much over the past decade. The report, released by Cancer Council Victoria today, found just one third (29 per cent) of the students knew smoking one or two tobacco cigarettes occasionally posed serious health risks such as lung cancer and stroke. While 85 per cent of students knew that smoking 10 or more cigarettes a day was very dangerous, this level of awareness had not changed since since 2008.

Finland: A fawn that became stranded on a patch of ice in Finland's Inkoo archipelago has received a hand from members of the Finnish coast guard. They spotted the unsteady animal from their hovercraft during a regular patrol at the weekend. Senior Coast Guard officer Sebastian von Bruun filmed colleague Kristian Rasted pulling the "helpless white-tailed deer on the slippery ice" back to shore. Rasted gave a thumbs-up after the fawn rushed into the woods. Von Brunn said: "The mother deer was very happy and grateful to get her baby back." The Coast Guard said while animal rescue missions are not part of its personnel's normal duties, they do occur from time to time.

Britain: A British man has appeared in court charged with attempted murder after he allegedly drove a car into a nightclub that he was thrown out of earlier in the evening, causing revellers serious injuries. Mohammed Abdul is accused of driving a Suzuki Vitara deliberately into the club at the weekend in an incident which left 13 people injured. The 21-year-old did not enter a plea at the short hearing and spoke only to confirm his details when he appeared by videolink. The court was told people in the crowd were left with injuries including broken and dislocated knees, and dislocated pelvises.

Weather: Emergency crews in Croatia have struggled to contain a swollen river that reached record levels southeast of Zagreb, while soldiers distributed food and drinking water to a section of Albania that has been flooded for two weeks. Croatian authorities said the Sava River by the town of Jasenovac exceeded the highest level previously recorded by 10cm. About a dozen houses in a nearby village were cut off. Residents have refused to evacuate so emergency crews are delivering food and water by boat, Croatian state TV channel HRT said. The Sava is expected to rise more in the coming days, experts said. To the east, snow and freezing rain delayed dozens of flights and some trains in Romania amid a late cold snap. Snow also hit Germany, Hungary and Britain, among other European nations.

- agencies