Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Photo: Evan Vucci / AP

The State Department's most senior levels of leadership will be reduced in half by Dec. 1, and the level below them is being cut 18%, the New York Times reports, citing data from the American Foreign Service Association. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said the dept is a bloated bureaucracy and wants to eliminate 2,000 positions by Oct. of next year.

Why it matters: Former State Department officials have begun to publicly say the cuts are going too far, House Democrats say the department is undergoing an "intentional hollowing-out" and Republican Sen. John McCain and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen sent a letter to Tillerson that said "America's diplomatic power is being weakened internally as complex global crises are growing externally."

More from the Times:

"One result is that there is no one in place with responsibilities for some key trouble spots.
Although the North Korean nuclear crisis is the Trump administration's top priority, the administration has yet to nominate an assistant secretary for East Asia or an ambassador to South Korea, crucial positions to deal with the issue.
In the midst of the war in Syria and growing worries over a possible conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, there is no confirmed assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs or ambassadors to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt or Qatar. And as Zimbabwe confronts the future after the departure of Robert Mugabe, the department is lacking a confirmed assistant secretary for African affairs or an ambassador to neighboring South Africa."

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Post-debate poll finds Biden strong on every major issue

Joe Biden speaks Friday about "The Biden Plan to Beat COVID-19," at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

This is one of the bigger signs of trouble for President Trump that we've seen in a poll: Of the final debate's seven topics, Joe Biden won or tied on all seven when viewers in a massive Axios-SurveyMonkey sample were asked who they trusted more to handle the issue.

Why it matters: In a time of unprecedented colliding crises for the nation, the polling considered Biden to be vastly more competent.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
4 hours ago - Science

The murder hornets are here

A braver man than me holds a speciment of the Asian giant hornet. Photo: Karen Ducey/Getty Images

Entomologists in Washington state on Thursday discovered the first Asian giant hornet nest in the U.S.

Why it matters: You may know this insect species by its nom de guerre: "the murder hornet." While the threat they pose to humans has been overstated, the invading hornets could decimate local honeybee populations if they establish themselves.