The former Olympic and Paralympic athlete was released from prison a day earlier than expected, and will now spend the remaining four years of his sentence at his uncle’s home in Pretoria. The 28-year-old was convicted last year of culpable homicide in the death of then-girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, though Pistorius says he thought he was shooting an intruder. He’s required to wear electronic monitoring, receive psychotherapy and cannot own firearms. He’s also obligated to meet with the Steenkamp family if they request. Don’t expect to see him on the track; he’s barred from competition until the completion of his sentence.
The Presidential Daily Brief
It’s shrinking — but trying to loom large. Russian aggression and Middle Eastern chaos have put American forces in Europe on alert. But the number of permanently stationed soldiers there has dropped by 35 percent since 2012, down to just 26,000 troops, alongside weapon and vehicle inventories. This forces Army leaders to borrow machinery from allies as they try to “make 30,000 feel like 300,000” and has some defense experts fearing the worst if the U.S. armed forces get bombarded by two big confrontations at once.
Canadians finished a tight race for prime minister Monday, handing the role to the son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Liberal Justin Trudeau trounced three-term Conservative incumbent Prime Minister Stephen Harper — who’d asked folks to reward his experience — and the left-leaning New Democratic Party’s Tom Mulcair. It’s the first time a father and son have held Canada’s top job, and will likely see economic changes favoring investment over austerity and an end to Canadian airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.
Is it just a new form of discrimination? Prime Minister David Cameron has unveiled a slate of new measures meant to combat extremist groups that seek to recruit Brits, but Muslim groups have condemned the program as demonizing Muslims specifically and ignoring other forms of extremism. ”Islamist extremists don’t just threaten our security, they jeopardise all that we’ve built together,” Cameron wrote on Facebook, something he hopes to combat with policies that include banning certain groups, potentially closing mosques and confiscating passports of teenagers who are feared to be in danger of being radicalized.
Hungary slammed the door again this weekend, leaving refugees along the Balkan route looking for a window. Thousands are now trying to pry one open in Slovenia as they filter through Croatia and Serbia. But Slovenian authorities have warned they can only accept 2,500 migrants a day, compared to the 5,000 Croatian leaders have requested. Tensions are building among the thousands left stranded and desperate as the Continent turns colder, and many fear that if Hungary’s closed-door policy continues, the bottlenecks will keep driving up tensions along Europe’s frontiers.
It beat expectations but still didn’t hit the target. The world’s second-largest economy suffered a third-quarter slowdown, with growth at just 6.9 percent. While beating forecasts of 6.7 percent, the rate was the lowest Beijing has endured since 2009, and failed to meet the targeted 7 percent mark. The service sector helped cushion the blow, while manufacturing dipped more than expected. This is the first official news about the Chinese economy in months, and while it sent Asian shares slightly downward, European stocks rose as investors seemed relieved that the figures weren’t worse.
Eleven dead, thousands displaced by Typhoon Koppu in Philippines. (AP)
Partisan tensions flare over Benghazi inquiry. (NYT)
Texas cuts off Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood. (USA Today)
Israel begins building new wall of separation in Jerusalem. (DW)
Switzerland swings further to the right in election. (FT) sub
U.S., Japan flex military muscle. (USA Today)
An unorthodox solution, but they might give it a shot. Norway suffers the second-highest European rate of heroin overdose deaths, trailing only Estonia. The southwestern city of Bergen hopes to stem this tragic tide by giving away free heroin and providing “safe rooms” where addicts can partake in protected environments. While the approach still requires approval by the national parliament, the city has launched a controlled trial, and Oslo is likely next, thanks to a new mayor who’s vowing to reform the city’s drug policies.
It’s giving them zero stars. The retail titan is suing 1,114 John Does — their identities are currently unknown — who offer to write false reviews for as little as $5 on Fiverr, a site where people can proffer minor creative services for little pay. Amazon says fake reviews could undermine its reputation and render product ratings useless. While it might be tough to legally discipline the writers, many of whom likely live overseas and outside America’s legal net, Fiverr says it’s working with Amazon to resolve the issue.
Less really may be more when it comes to the hippocampus. While docs have long blamed low serotonin levels for the woes of the 350 million worldwide suffering from the clinical blues, there are other causes in our “immensely complex” brain chemistry. A new study indicates that a high level of hippocampal FGF9 is a key indicator of depression risk, a finding that could help experts more fully understand mood disorders’ causes and develop better drugs to battle them, while perhaps lifting the stigma associated with mental health issues.
Die-hard sci-fi fans will tackle Monday Night Football at 8.30 p.m. ET tonight, tuning in for a glimpse of the new trailer for The Force Awakens. Snippets are emerging from the usually tight-lipped Disney camp just a day after they unveiled the film’s official theatrical poster. Tickets for the Dec. 18 premiere went on sale Monday evening just before the trailer, and expectations couldn’t be higher, with analysts and studio execs betting on the fantasy saga’s seventh installment becoming the highest-grossing movie ever.
Has the Windy City blown it? New York confidently secured its second win in the best-of-seven series against Jake Arrieta and the Cubs yesterday, 4-1. Second baseman Daniel Murphy continued his HR streak — a new club record of five in the postseason — while pitcher Noah Syndergaard frustrated Chicago’s batters. The NLCS, despite expectations of a thriller, has been one-sided so far. But Chicago gets the chance to even things out as the series heads back to Wrigley Field for Game 3 on Tuesday.