President Obama didn’t get the memo about being a lame duck. Taking a beating in the midterms hasn’t deterred him from executive action on immigration reform, according to administration officials. Obama’s plan will offer protections to parents of American-born children and to immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors, and will affect as many as five million people. It leaves Republicans in a tricky spot — to block the changes they’ll have to legislate against keeping families together. It seems the president plans to go out fighting.
The Presidential Daily Brief
A surgeon who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone is being flown to Nebraska for treatment. The relatively muted response suggests that the panic surrounding the virus has subsided in the U.S. The real outbreak, in West Africa, seems to be easing too. After 5,160 deaths in the region, Liberia is lifting its state of emergency and says numbers of new infections are no longer rising. Meanwhile, Doctors Without Borders has announced that clinical trials of new Ebola treatments will start next month.
Oh those sneaky feds. Faking like they’re cell phone towers, Department of Justice planes carrying high-tech “dirtboxes” reportedly snatch data from Americans’ mobile devices. The phones share revealing data linked to the owner. The operation targets criminals, but thousands of innocent Americans are swept up too, warns the ACLU. We’re not saying the government wants to know your take-out order, but we’d like to know if we’re being spied on in our own living room.
What did Don Blankenship know, and when? The Massey Energy CEO faces federal charges that could put him away for decades for violating safety rules, contributing to the deaths of 29 miners in an April 2010 explosion in West Virginia. The four-count indictment, handed up by a grand jury, also accused Blankenship of lying in the accident aftermath. The former CEO’s attorney defended him, of course, but a union president hopes this will bring the families of the deceased a small measure of justice.
Is it a Cold War yet? Russia plans to conduct long-range bomber drills close to the U.S. coast, the latest move in an increasingly tense standoff between the Putin administration and the West. Moscow has also reportedly directed a convoy of warships towards Australian waters ahead of the G20 summit, which is expected to focus on the crisis in Ukraine. Meanwhile, Russia denies U.S. claims that they have sent fresh troops and tanks over the Ukrainian border, where the ceasefire seems to be crumbling.
It was a tumultuous day for Web 2.0. Reddit chief Yishan Wong resigned after a dispute over office space on the same day that Standard & Poor’s gave Twitter’s debt a junk-grade rating. In two and a half years, Wong quintupled Reddit’s traffic, but the site is still struggling to turn clicks into cash. Meanwhile, Twitter shares fell by 5.7 percent on Thursday afternoon, amid predictions that, due to heavy investment in growth, it won’t achieve positive cash flow until 2016.
House passes bill to move Keystone Pipeline forward. (NYT)
ISIS leader urges expansion to Saudi Arabia. (DW)
Obama hints support for Suu Kyi presidency. (Reuters)
Secret Service failures helped White House intruder. (WP)
U.S. to pledge $2.5 billion in climate aid. (The Guardian)
Actress accuses Bill Cosby of rape. (SMH)
What’s a caliphate without its own currency? Leaders of the extremist group have announced a plan to mint their own gold, silver and copper coins, in a bid to free themselves from the “tyrant’s financial system.” The exchange rate of the new currency, which will consist of seven coins, has yet to be announced, but experts point out that its value — and the group’s purchasing power — will be highly unstable due to fluctuations in precious metal prices.
Avez-vous vu un gros chat? Residents of Montevrain, 25 miles east of Paris, are being warned to stay indoors as authorities search for an escaped tiger. The twist? No one knows where the animal came from. A nearby wild cat park insists no residents have gotten loose, and though Disneyland Paris is only a few miles away, it doesn’t house any tigers. The search — which includes a helicopter, thermal detectors and over 100 police officers and firefighters armed with tranquilizer guns — resumed early this morning.
The mega-retailer and Hatchette Book Group, which represents best-selling authors such as James Patterson, have reached a multiyear agreement. As part of a months-long public standoff between the companies, Amazon disabled reorders and delayed shipments of Hatchette titles — enraging authors, agents and publishers. In a rare step-down, Amazon agreed to allow the publisher to control prices of its e-books. But critics believe the deal represents a tactical retreat and that the web giant still “covets market share the way Napoleon coveted territory.”
For every degree Celsius that temperature increases, the chance of lightning skyrockets 12 percent, according to a new study of U.S. weather data. That means the number of strikes could rise by 50 percent in the next century. But it’s not all bad: Unlike many climate change symptoms, lightning can actually help clear the air. Nitrogen oxides produced by lightning reduce levels of methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. All the same, scientists are working on improving detection methods since more strikes means more forest fires.
It’s not a World Series ring, but it’ll do. L.A. Dodgers ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw and L.A. Angels center fielder Mike Trout were named the most valuable players in baseball on Thursday. After picking up his third Cy Young Award on Wednesday, Kershaw became the 11th player to win both honors in the same season. Trout, 23, is the youngest unanimous winner ever, having led the league in RBIs and runs scored. He was runner-up in MVP voting behind Miguel Cabrera in both of his first two seasons.