RSS
10 things you need to know today: October 19, 2012
Obama and Romney trade jokes, the Defense of Marriage Act loses in court, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
A man waves a gay pride flag in San Francisco: On Thursday, a New York court became the second federal court to rule that the Defense of Marriage Act, which designates marriage as between one man and one woman, is unconstitutional.
A man waves a gay pride flag in San Francisco: On Thursday, a New York court became the second federal court to rule that the Defense of Marriage Act, which designates marriage as between one man and one woman, is unconstitutional.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

1. OBAMA, ROMNEY TAKE A COMIC PAUSE IN A BRUTAL CAMPAIGN
Taking a break from their hard-hitting campaign, President Obama and Mitt Romney teased each other, and got in a few good-natured political jabs, at the 67th Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner. The charity event raises money for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, and is named after the first Catholic to run for president (he lost, in 1928). Obama got his first laughs as the crowd was still giving him a standing ovation. "Everyone please take your seats, otherwise Clint Eastwood will yell at them," he said. Romney poked fun at his wealth and attack on Big Bird, and joked that as Obama looked around at the well-heeled audience, he was thinking "So little time, so much to redistribute." Romney also joked that he was hoping Obama would bring along Vice President Joe Biden, "because he will laugh at anything." [New York Times]
………………………………………………………………………………

2. DOMA MOVES TOWARD SUPREME COURT
The fate of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) moved a step closer to final resolution at the Supreme Court on Thursday, when a three-judge federal appeals-court panel in New York struck down the law, which defines marriage as involving a man and a woman. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that DOMA violates equal protection laws. A federal appeals court in Boston also found the 1996 law unconstitutional earlier this year. The U.S. Supreme Court could say by the end of the year whether it will consider the issue in its current term, which ends in June. [BusinessWeek]
………………………………………………………………………………

3. GOOGLE'S WOES WORRY WALL STREET

Tech stocks sagged late Thursday after an SEC filing that was apparently published inadvertently revealed that Google had reported third-quarter earnings of $9.03 a share, below the $10.65 analysts had predicted. Earnings fell 20 percent from a year ago as total costs rose and advertising prices continued to fall. Google shares fell fast after the release. "As we saw in Google's report, there are lots of high expectations in some of these widely held names, and when they don't deliver, they can get hit pretty hard," Patrick O'Hare, chief market analyst at Briefing.com, told MarketWatch. Microsoft also saw profits dive, thanks to falling sales of PCs using its software; it's counting on next week's Windows 8 launch to lure back customers moving to tablets and smartphones. [MarketWatch]
………………………………………………………………………………

4. CIA REQUESTS MORE DRONES
CIA Director David Petraeus, the former commander of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, is asking the White House to significantly beef up the agency's fleet of armed drones. By adding up to 10 to a force of 30 to 35, the CIA would be able to continue its lethal strikes against al Qaeda in Pakistan and Yemen and, if necessary, go after new threats in North Africa and other places. "With what happened in Libya," one official told The Washington Post, "we're realizing that these places are going to heat up." [Washington Post]
………………………………………………………………………………

5. NORTH KOREA THREATENS STRIKE
North Korea's military said it would strike a South Korean border area if North Korean defectors and South Korean activists go through with plans to launch balloons on Monday carrying leaflets criticizing the communist regime's leaders. "Merciless military strike by the Western Front will be put into practice without warning," North Korea announced. South Korea vowed to retaliate, but North Korea has failed to follow through on similar threats in the past. [ABC News]
………………………………………………………………………………

6. LIBYA ATTACK SUSPECT TAUNTS U.S.
The CIA station chief in Libya told Washington within 24 hours that he suspected the deadly Sept. 11 attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi was the work of militants, not a spontaneous mob, according to The Associated Press. It's unclear whether anyone outside the agency saw the cable. A suspected ringleader, Ahmed Abu Khattala, openly scoffed at threats from the U.S. and Libya to bring the assailants to justice, saying the fledgling Libyan government's army was too weak and U.S. leaders are just "using the consulate attack just to gather votes for their elections." [Associated Press, New York Times]
………………………………………………………………………………

7. BOY SCOUT "PERVERSION FILES" RELEASED
More than 14,000 pages of secret "perversion files" — including internal memos and letters from victims and parents — from the Boy Scouts of America were released Thursday by order of the Oregon Supreme Court. The documents revealed "again and again, decade after decade, an array of authorities — police chiefs, prosecutors, pastors, and local Boy Scout leaders among them — quietly shielded scoutmasters and others accused of molesting children," according to The Associated Press. They did so to protect "the good name of Scouting," the AP says, allowing "sexual predators to go free while victims suffered in silence." [Associated Press]
………………………………………………………………………………

8. CASTRO REPORTEDLY SUFFERS STROKE
With fresh rumors circulating that Fidel Castro is near death, a Venezuelan physician claiming firsthand sources tells El Nuevo Herald, The Miami Herald's Spanish-language newspaper, that the former Cuban leader suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and is probably in a near "neurovegetative" state. "He suffered an embolic stroke and recognizes absolutely no one," said José Marquina, a respected doctor who in the past claimed direct information about the health of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a close Castro ally. [Miami Herald]
………………………………………………………………………………

9. TIGERS BEAT YANKEES FOR SERIES SPOT
The Detroit Tigers won a spot in Major League Baseball's World Series by beating the New York Yankees 8-1 Thursday to complete a four-game sweep of the AL championship series. Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta hit two-run homers in the fourth inning to seal the Yankees' fate. It was the first time the storied New York team had been swept in a postseason series in 32 years. [ABC News]
………………………………………………………………………………

10. SCHOOLGIRL SHOT BY TALIBAN STANDS, WITH HELP
Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by Taliban gunmen, is now able to stand with help, according to doctors treating her in the U.K. The 15-year-old is "well enough that she's agreed that she's happy, in fact keen, for us to share more clinical detail," said Dr. Dave Rosser, medical director at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. "She is also keen that I thank people for their support." Despite the encouraging news, doctors say she's still fighting an infection that was probably caused by a bullet that grazed her head. "She is not out of the woods yet," Rosser said. [Associated Press]

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week