For now, they can keep their armored vehicles and high-powered rifles. But the president is asking for better oversight of military-style equipment that ends up in the hands of local police departments, aiming to tamp down “simmering distrust” between police and minorities. The administration will also spend $75 million over the next three years to buy about 50,000 body cameras for police officers. The modest moves come even as protests over police brutality keep popping up around the country.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The Hill is back in session today, and the federal spending bill, due to expire Dec. 11, tops their list. Without a deal, the government faces another shutdown. The GOP could try to use the money measure as a way to curb Obama’s immigration plans. But a shutdown tends to hurt those in Congress (the Republicans) and not the President’s party. Also on the calendar this month: confirming Department of Defense and Department of Justice heads. Let the fireworks begin.
“I’m ready to fight, ready to protect our people, ready for revolution,” said one pro-democracy protester in the seven-million-strong city as demonstrators surged to block access to government buildings last night. They proceeded to clash with baton-wielding police, which led to 40 arrests and just as many hospitalizations. The sudden violence follows months of stalemate and coincides with China barring a delegation of British lawmakers. Meanwhile, public support for the activists is waning — alongside the authorities’ patience.
Taliban gunmen have killed a South African aid worker and his two children in Kabul. Werner Groenewald and his family had been living in Afghanistan for 12 years when he and his 17-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter died at the hands of militants who stormed the compound where they lived — the latest in a spate of high-profile attacks. The violence, prompted by a decision to allow international troops to remain in the country, has forced the city’s police chief to resign.
Peggy Young’s doctor told her she shouldn’t lift any large boxes for her employer, UPS, when she was pregnant. Her job was mostly delivering envelopes, but the shipping company still placed her on unpaid leave, with no health insurance. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday on whether the Pregnancy Discrimination Act means that employers have to accommodate pregnant women on the job. UPS has changed its policies already, but there’s a host of employers out there that haven’t.
The madness may be over. Despite earlier-than-ever store hours and deep discounts, Americans spent $6.5 billion less over the four-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend than in 2013. The downward trend for the second year running signifies a shift: Black Friday isn’t the all-out shopping frenzy it once was, thanks in part to retailers pushing promotions in early November. Ironically, the improving economy might also be to blame — shoppers aren’t desperate enough to skip turkey dinner for a bargain.
Could things be looking up for the environment? Today climate crusaders launch a 12-day UN summit of 195 countries in Lima, Peru, to lay groundwork for talks in Paris at the end of next year. While people are wary of the big promises made (but rarely kept) at these summits, there’s a lot of cautious optimism about this meeting. It follows huge pollution-reduction pledges from China, the EU, and the U.S. — even if some fear American carbon regulations are looking endangered.
Elizabeth Lauten steps down after remarks about Obama daughters. (Washington Post)
Bill Cosby resigns from Temple University board. (USA Today)
Maoist rebels kill 13 paramilitary police officers in India. (BBC)
Uruguay’s ‘poorest president’ ousted by former incumbent. (Al Jazeera)
UN official warns of ’huge risk’ that Ebola will spread. (BBC)
South Korean boat sinks off Russian coast, dozens missing. (USA Today)
American couple cleared in daughter’s death can’t leave Qatar. (NYT)
U.S. bombs ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, Syria. (The Guardian)
Few journalists have gained access to this Syrian border city besieged by ISIS militants. Working with a network of locals, freelance photographer Frederic Lafargue managed to cross into Kobani to document the ruins. In his photos, no building appears unscathed, dust-covered rebels take position amid a sea of concrete, and the destroyed city center sits in rubble. More than 190,000 Syrians have fled the city since the fighting began. Lafargue’s images help to humanize a far-off tragedy for most Westerners.
Not all threats are idle. A cyber attack against Sony Pictures was likely inflicted by North Korea in retribution for The Interview, a send-up about the Hermit Kingdom. Starring James Franco and Seth Rogen, the film features TV journalists trying to assassinate Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un. In a nod to diplomacy, it won’t be released in South Korea. Meanwhile, the file-stealing attack is hurting Sony, which has seen its wartime film, Fury, free-loaded more than 500,000 times.
She responded to cries for help and paid the ultimate price. Tugce Albayrak, a teaching student, stood up to bullies harassing young girls in a McDonald’s bathroom in Offenbach, Germany. One of the men, a young Serbian, later attacked her in the parking lot, striking her head with a bat. Albayrak’s parents turned off her life support over the weekend on what would have been her 23rd birthday. More than 100,000 have now signed an online petition asking Germany’s president to give her a posthumous bravery award.
Watch out, hikers — the deadly predators may be on their way back to America’s wilderness. The National Park Service is studying ways to restore the federally protected species, possibly bringing bears from other parts of the country to bolster North Cascades National Park’s population in the coming years. Conservationists hope it would help save grizzlies from extinction. But some Washingtonians, especially livestock farmers, are warning that the move could also bring unwelcome consequences.
We love our selfies more than ourselves. They’re making people anxious about being camera-ready, according to a new study by plastic surgeons. The industry is booming thanks to the narcissistic social media craze. Doctors say patients bring in self-snaps to demonstrate their flaws, and they’ve seen a 10 percent rise in nose jobs alone. But the odd, arms-length angles don’t offer accurate representations of how people really look, and surgeons want customers to look good in person, not just on Facebook.
The conflict isn’t only in a galaxy far, far away. John Boyega, the 22-year-old black British actor who lit up Twitter with his dramatic appearance as a stormtrooper in the trailer to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, has a simple response to haters out there: “Get used to it.” Some fans reacted rudely after seeing him in the iconic white Stormtrooper armor. Coming amid the rawness of Ferguson, Boyega’s comment seems to transcend Star Wars fandom.
Everyone jokes that bars are recession-proof, but economic downturn has hit brewers hard in Brazil. Most of the country’s beer is cheaply imported from the world’s largest international brands. So small-craft brewers have a lot of competition and often struggle to get their products to market. Despite growing middle-class interest in local beers and the fact that Brazilians are the biggest drinkers in Latin America, some 100 small brewers may be forced out of business in the coming months.
The search for Kosta Karageorge is over. The 22-year-old defensive lineman’s body was discovered in a dumpster on Sunday with an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police were alerted to the player’s disappearance by his mother after she received a troubling message last Wednesday. Karageorge, who suffered multiple concussions and spells of confusion, texted that he was sorry for being “an embarrassment.” His heartbreaking death will add even more pressure on teams to put players’ welfare above points on the board.