Tuesday, November 4, 2014
MIDTERM ELECTION DAY
Americans are voting today in midterm elections that are expected to result in a Republican Senate majority, according to The Washington Post’s election model. USA Today makes the same prediction, explaining that with a net gain of 11 seats, the GOP would win its largest majority since the Truman administration. A minimum of six seats would give them the majority and the Democrats a headache for the last two years of President Barack Obama’s presidency. But there is more to today’s vote than the makeup of the U.S. Congress and state governors. Voters in Arkansas, where 37 dry counties still prohibit the sale of alcohol, will have a say on a ballot initiative to end prohibition.
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Robert Hannigan, the new head of the British surveillance agency GCHQ, accused U.S. social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook of becoming "the command-and-control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals.”
U.S. CONSIDERS AL-NUSRA STRIKES
Washington is reportedly considering expanding its current anti-ISIS airstrikes program to target another jihadist group active in northern Syria, the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, The Washington Post reports. The terrorist organization launched a major offensive in the Idlib province, west of Aleppo, this weekend, seizing heavy weaponry and territories previously controlled by Western-backed Syrian rebels. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius calls for increasing support for the “moderate” Syrian rebellion and for the anti-ISIS coalition to “save Aleppo.”
In Iraq, security forces are on alert today as more than one million Shia Muslims are gathering at shrines and mosques for Ashura, the anniversary of the death of the prophet Muhammad’s grandson Husayn Ibn Ali. Read more from Reuters.
The senior half of the “Tappet Brothers” radio duo has died. Tom Magliozzi, who hosted National Public Radio's popular "Car Talk" program with his younger brother Ray for 30 years, died at his home Monday from complications of Alzheimer's disease at age 77.
UKRAINE VOTE THREATENS PEACE
In a televised address, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko denounced Sunday’s elections in rebel-held regions of eastern Ukraine, warning that they could derail the “entire peace process,” the BBC reports. Poroshenko is expected to chair today’s meeting of Ukraine's Security and Defense Council, which may repeal a special self-governance law for eastern regions introduced last month as part of the peace process. Russia’s decision to recognize the election of two pro-Russian rebel leaders in Donetsk and Luhansk has attracted criticism from the U.S., with State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki saying that it will “only serve to isolate Russia further.” A spokesman for Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel also warned that “it may be necessary to consider intensifying the sanctions” against Moscow.
An Iranian man holds an anti-U.S. placard during a rally marking the 35th anniversary of the 1979 takeover of the U.S. embassy on Nov. 4.
As PortalKBR’s Devi Boerema reports, a female-only New Delhi cab company is a response to India's ongoing problems with violence toward women, with benefits being enjoyed by both drivers and passengers. “Over 90% of women in New Delhi still say they don’t feel safe in their own city,” the journalist writes. “And this fear has led to a new niche in the transport industry — women-only services. In New Delhi, Sakha Cabs, a female-only taxi service, has been running since 2008. Their goal is to get women to reclaim public spaces by offering them a safe ride home at any time of the day.”
Read the full article, Take Back The Street: Safety, Empowerment In India's Women-Only Taxis.
LIBERIA ACCUSED OF FIRING ON CIVILIANS
An investigation by the Liberian Independent National Commission on Human Rights found that the country’s security forces fired with “complete disregard for human life” into crowds of people protesting against a blanket Ebola quarantine in August, The New York Times reveals. The report contradicts the security forces’ defense that they had only fired shots into the air. According to the newspaper, the investigation concluded that unless “it was a magic bullet,” a round “shot in the air cannot fall from above and shatter somebody’s legs.” The president of the World Bank group Jim Yong Kim, meanwhile, criticized Asian countries for their lack of action against the virus that has killed nearly 5,000 people, most of them in West Africa. “Many countries in Asia who could help simply are not, especially when it comes to sending health workers,” Kim told a news conference in Seoul.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
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PROSECUTORS APPEAL PISTORIUS TRIAL OUTCOME
South African prosecutors have filed an appeal against both the “culpable homicide” conviction and the five-year prison sentence of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius, the South African Press Association reports. They believe that the athlete should have been found guilty of murder instead of manslaughter. If their appeal succeeds, Pistorius could face 15 years in prison, instead of the current sentence that makes him eligible for release into house arrest after 10 months.
SPOTIFY MAPS MUSIC LISTENERS
Have you ever wondered whether someone, somewhere in the world, ever went through their playlist and selected the exact same song at the exact same moment you did? Spotify’s Serendipity reveals just that, with a map showing occurrences of musical synchronicity. But you won’t be able to see Taylor Swift fans as the 24-year-old singer pulled her entire catalogue from the music platform.