NEXT UP: CHINA’S IN TOWN. There will be no pretending that relations are rosy when China’s President Xi Jinping meets with President Obama on Friday, The Washington Post reports. There are positive notes – a major climate pact underway and a cooperative effort to conclude a nuclear deal with Iran under their belt – and many areas in which the two countries could work together. But China’s regional expansionism in the South China Sea, its aggressive moves in cyberspace and an uncertain economic future are casting a shadow over all that potential. U.S. officials may soon unleash a more punitive set of measures against China. But if that happens, it will only be after the state dinner dessert plates have been cleared.

RUSSIA’S PLANS. Russian President Vladimir Putin is very frank about the fact he’s trying to prop up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, in an interview with “60 Minutes” that will air Sunday. “There is no other solution to the Syrian crisis than strengthening the effective government structures and rendering them help in fighting terrorism,” Putin tells host Charlie Rose. But will that make coordination with the United States more difficult? Putin and President Obama are scheduled to meet on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly next week, and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Thursday that the Pentagon is open to working with Russian forces to defeat the Islamic State. But according to a CNN report, Russia has been trying to sneak planes into Syria by turning off their transponders and flying them in close formation to a larger plane so that they might get into Syria undetected. The question now is, whether Russia sends troops to help settle the situation in Syria, as well – and if they go, whether they will simply be aimed at protecting Russia’s local naval interests or getting involved in routing the terrorist forces controlling large swaths of the country.

RECORD FOR RECORD. A group of West Point women are going tit-for-tit with Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) after the congressman requested that the Army release the records of the first female students to graduate from Ranger School, to make sure that the standards weren’t fudged to move them through, Army Times reports. But the insult isn’t sitting so well with other female graduates of the U.S. Military Academy, who have filed a Freedom of Information Act to see Russell’s records. They point out that Russell’s charge that the Army lied cuts deeper than the standard-issue sexism. Part of the Ranger code is that you don’t lie – so the charge that the first female graduates, their peers and classmates might have misrepresented their achievements cuts deep.