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Biden'd
July 21, 2014
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Vice President Joe Biden claims he once looked Russian President Vladimir Putin right in the face and called him soulless. That incredible tale comes via a sprawling profile of the vice president in the latest edition of The New Yorker.

To illustrate his emphasis on personality as a factor in foreign affairs, Biden recalled visiting Putin at the Kremlin in 2011: "I had an interpreter, and when he was showing me his office I said, 'It's amazing what capitalism will do, won't it? A magnificent office!' And he laughed. As I turned, I was this close to him." Biden held his hand a few inches from his nose. "I said, 'Mr. Prime Minister, I'm looking into your eyes, and I don't think you have a soul.'" [The New Yorker]

Putin even smiled at the remark, according to Biden.

The incredible anecdote is a riff on former President George W. Bush's claim that he looked into Putin's eyes, when they first met in 2001, and saw his soul. Whether or not Biden's version is 100 percent accurate, given the VP's alleged penchant for embellishing the truth, we'll never know. Jon Terbush

Free trade
9:31 a.m. ET
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The 12 Pacific Rim countries working in Hawaii to establish the biggest free trade deal in history failed to reach an agreement Friday, the end of their latest round of talks. The Trans-Pacific Partnership would cover 40 percent of the global economy.

Negotiators say significant progress was made, according to CNN, but there's no date set yet for the next round of talks. An agreement would lower trade barriers between the nations and encourage economic growth.

President Obama had all but ensured a deal would cruise through Congress, but with the 2016 presidential election on the horizon, if a deal is reached down the road, its fate would be less clear. Julie Kliegman

Fires
8:24 a.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Hundreds of people are fleeing their homes as more than a dozen large wildfires burned across drought-stricken Northern California on Saturday. Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Friday.

About 8,000 firefighters are working to contain the fires, many caused by lightning strikes, according to the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Most of the fires are at least 60 percent contained, but they have damaged tens of thousands of acres so far, CNN reports. One firefighter died Thursday battling the blazes.

The four-year drought has "turned much of the state into a tinderbox," Brown said. Julie Kliegman

Around the world
7:53 a.m. ET
Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images

New Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor purportedly promised to continue the group's 14-year insurgency in audio released to journalists Saturday by a Taliban spokesman, The Associated Press reports.

"We should keep our unity, we must be united, our enemy will be happy in our separation," Mansoor purportedly said. "This is a big responsibly on us. This is not the work of one, two or three people. This is all our responsibility to carry on jihad until we establish the Islamic state."

The Afghan government announced Wednesday that the group's previous leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, has been dead since April 2013. Julie Kliegman

E-disarmament
July 31, 2015

Does the right to bear arms apply to emoji arms? It's actually a somewhat serious question; activist nonprofit New Yorkers Against Gun Violence aims (excuse the pun) to disarm the iPhone by pressuring Apple's CEO to remove the gun icon from its emoji catalog.

"The iPhone is ubiquitous. [Guns are] on the iPhone as an option," the executive director of NYAGV, Leah Barrett, told Fast Company. "We thought this was a way to bring attention to the issue [of gun violence]."

The activists encourage people to tweet at Apple's CEO and ask for the gun emoji to be removed, using the hashtag #DisarmTheiPhone. However, Fast Company cautions, "If a company like Apple removes words from that language, even if they’re technically pictures, isn't it censorship? How far does this linguistic adjustment go? If we type the letters G-U-N should they be autocorrected to S-U-N, P-U-N, or F-U-N?" Well? Jeva Lange

For those who have everything
July 31, 2015
Courtesy Photo

"Not all baby carriers are made equally," said Bobby Bernstein at HiConsumption. The Mission Critical Baby Carrier ($190) was made with Gen Y fathers in mind, so it "has an urban assault tactical vibe to it." The San Francisco company that produces it offers a full line of matching dad gear, including a backpack, a messenger-style diaper bag, and modular accessories like an attachable baby-bottle holder. The tactical vest–style baby carrier straps on easily and has a hidden hood in its rear panel. All materials are military grade.
The Week Staff

zuck jr.
July 31, 2015
Kimberly White/Getty Images

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan had two big announcements today. The first: They're having a baby girl. The second: Priscilla had three miscarriages before reaching a point in her pregnancy where the chances are now very slim of a reoccurrence.

Their miscarriage news is huge not because it's rare, but because it's so rarely talked about. Though the American Pregnancy Association says as many as a quarter of all pregnancies end in miscarriages, women aren't exactly eager to shout from the rooftops that they lost a baby. But in Zuckerberg and Chan's Facebook post, they expressed their hope that their announcement will help other women to share their stories.

"You feel so hopeful when you learn you're going to have a child. You start imagining who they'll become and dreaming of hopes for their future. You start making plans, and then they're gone. It's a lonely experience. Most people don't discuss miscarriages because you worry your problems will distance you or reflect upon you — as if you're defective or did something to cause this. So you struggle on your own.

In today's open and connected world, discussing these issues doesn't distance us; it brings us together. It creates understanding and tolerance, and it gives us hope.

When we started talking to our friends, we realized how frequently this happened — that many people we knew had similar issues and that nearly all had healthy children after all.

We hope that sharing our experience will give more people the same hope we felt and will help more people feel comfortable sharing their stories as well." [Facebook]

It might already be working. "Congratulations Mark!!!" one commenter wrote below the post. "And thanks for sharing your story. I've also dealt with years of fertility struggles and loss, and it often feels like a incredibly lonely and isolating experience. I've only found recently that by opening up more about these hardships that you find many others with similar experiences […] Good luck with everything and enjoy fatherhood. Hope our kids can play together one day." Jeva Lange

High-Five Guys!
July 31, 2015

How's your Friday going?

In a Chicago suburb, 164 people just set a new world record for the largest ever vertical skydiving formation (the previous mark was set in 2012 and featured 138 skydivers). It took the team of skydivers 13 tries to all link up properly, but once they did, the result was "awesome, man," organizer Rock Nelson said. Check it out for yourself:

(Facebook.com/Skydive Chicago)

The formation lasted just a few seconds before the skydivers — an international contingent that was selected out of training camps held around the world — broke off and pulled their parachutes. Read more about the team's record-setting dive via The Associated Press. Sarah Eberspacher

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