Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 4, 2014

Harold Maass
President Obama chats with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the NATO summit.  (AP Images/Charles Dharapak)
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1.

Justice Department inquiry will focus on Ferguson police practices

The Justice Department is expected to announce as early as Thursday that it is launching a civil rights investigation into the police department in Ferguson, Missouri, where a white officer shot and killed an unarmed black teen, Michael Brown, last month. Some witnesses said Brown had his hands up, but the officer said Brown rushed him. The killing set off weeks of unrest in Ferguson, a predominantly African-American suburb of St. Louis. The investigation will cover training, the use of force, and other practices.

2.

NATO opens a summit focusing on the Ukraine crisis

NATO leaders are starting a two-day summit in Wales on Thursday where they will bolster their support for Ukraine in its battle against Russian-backed separatists. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was expected to meet with President Obama and several European leaders before the summit begins to repeat his call for arms and other support, and possibly rekindle his controversial bid to join NATO. Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled a peace plan Wednesday that essentially entrenches rebel gains.

3.

Judge upholds Louisiana's ban on same-sex marriage ban

A federal judge upheld Louisiana's gay marriage ban on Wednesday, interrupting a courtroom winning streak for advocates of same-sex marriage. State officials named in the lawsuit said they were pleased with the ruling, but lawyers representing the seven same-sex couples who challenged the ban said they would appeal. Before Wednesday's ruling, courts had ruled in favor of gay marriage more than 20 times since the Supreme Court struck down key parts of the Defense of Marriage Act last year.

4.

Democratic candidate quits Kansas Senate race

Democrat Chad Taylor dropped out of the election for U.S. Senate in Kansas on Wednesday, leaving his party with no candidate in the race. The unexpected move could improve Democrats' goal of ousting incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, however, because it will let independent candidate Greg Orman to challenge Roberts head-on in November. Orman, whom Roberts' campaign manager calls a "closet Democrat," led Roberts 43 percent to 33 percent in a head-to-head race in an August poll by Public Policy Polling.

5.

Al Qaeda launches a jihadi offshoot in India

Al Qaeda has launched a new branch in India, the terror group's chief, Ayman al-Zawahiri, said in a video posted online Wednesday. He said the new offshoot, Qaedat al Jihad, would fight to return Islam "to the Indian subcontinent, which was part of the Muslim world before it was invaded." India put four heavily Muslim states mentioned in the 55-minute video on alert. The push comes as al Qaeda faces increasing competition for recruits and funding with the rise of the rival extremist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

6.

Tesla reportedly has chosen Nevada for its battery "Gigafactory"

Electric-carmaker Tesla Motors is expected to announce Thursday that it has chosen to build a massive new battery in Nevada following a five-state competition. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said in the past that the winning state would have to provide $400 million in tax incentives. The so-called Gigafactory will make batteries for the next generation of Tesla vehicles, but it will be big enough to supply other companies, too. Tesla and partner Panasonic plan to spend up to $5 billion on the facility.

7.

Bloomberg returns to his old job at the company

Michael Bloomberg is returning to run the company he founded, Bloomberg LP, eight months after stepping down as New York City's mayor. The financial data and media firm announced that Bloomberg, who is still the majority shareholder, would replace CEO Dan Doctoroff at the end of the year. Doctoroff, one of Bloomberg's former deputy mayors, became CEO in July 2011. The move was unexpected because the 72-year-old billionaire had said he would concentrate on philanthropy after leaving politics.

8.

Sotloff's family breaks its silence on his murder

The family of slain journalist Steven Sotloff said through a spokesman Wednesday that he was no "war junkie," just a man who "wanted to give voice to those who had none." The spokesman, Barak Barfi, said at the Florida news conference that Sotloff's killers could not "hold us hostage with the one weapon they possess: fear." Then, speaking in Arabic, he challenged the leader of the group that beheaded Sotloff — the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria — to debate the tenets of Islam.

9.

Andrew Madoff, son of convicted swindler, dies

Andrew Madoff, who was the last surviving son of imprisoned swindler Bernard Madoff, died Wednesday at a New York City hospital where he was being treated for cancer. He was 48. Andrew and his older brother Mark — who hung himself two years after his father's arrest — were the ones who alerted federal agents that their father had confessed to them that his investment business was actually a gigantic Ponzi scheme. Andrew, who worked for his father, called the swindle a "father-son betrayal of biblical proportions."

10.

Perez and Wallace join The View

The View has picked actress and activist Rosie Perez and political commentator Nicole Wallace as the final two hosts for the coming season, which debuts Sept. 15. The pair will join Rosie O’Donnell and Whoopi Goldberg, the only host returning after a house-cleaning at the ABC talk show. Perez said she was "beyond thrilled, honored, and completely surprised." Wallace, who served as communications chief during George W. Bush's presidency, called the news "both humbling and incredibly exciting."