Daily Briefing

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

Harold Maass
Protesters took to the streets after the ruling.  (David McNew/Getty Images)

1.

New Yorkers protest decision not to charge officer for chokehold death

Protests broke out in New York City on Wednesday after a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict a white police officer in the July chokehold death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who was being arrested for allegedly selling loose cigarettes. Demonstrators chanted, "Black lives matter," and, "I can't breathe" — one of the last things Garner said. The officer, Daniel Pantaleo, has said he didn't mean to hurt Garner. Attorney General Eric Holder promised an investigation into whether Garner's civil rights were violated. [NBC News, The New York Times]

2.

States sue over Obama's executive order on immigration

Seventeen states filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration on Wednesday over President Obama's executive order on immigration deferring the deportation of up to 4.7 million undocumented immigrants, most of them parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents. The states, led by Texas, said Obama was exceeding his authority and violating his constitutional duty to enforce the nation's laws. The White House says Obama has legal authority for the move under his right to set priorities in enforcing federal laws. [Reuters]

3.

American teacher murdered in Abu Dhabi shopping mall

An American kindergarten teacher was stabbed to death in an Abu Dhabi shopping mall, apparently by an attacker seen in a surveillance video wearing a black robe and veil, police in the United Arab Emirates said Wednesday. The victim of the Monday attack was identified as Ibolya Ryan, 47, the mother of 11-year-old twins. The murder came weeks after U.S. embassies in the Middle East were warned of a posting on an Islamist terrorist website calling for attacks on American teachers in the Middle East. [USA Today]

4.

Iran launches airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq

Iranian jets recently started carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq, U.S. and Iranian officials confirmed Wednesday. Iran's Shiite Muslim leadership, which publicly denied the bombing campaign recently, has been taking on an increasingly public role in helping Iraq's Shiite-dominated government fight ISIS, a Sunni extremist group. Tehran and Washington, which haven't had diplomatic relations since 1979, deny they are coordinating their battles against ISIS. [The New York Times]

5.

Court halts execution of mentally ill man in Texas

A federal appeals court on Wednesday halted the controversial planned execution of a Texas man, Scott Panetti, so the judges can determine whether he is too mentally ill to receive the death penalty. Panetti's lawyers have argued that he suffers from schizophrenia and does not understand why he was sentenced to death, so executing him would be unconstitutional. Panetti was convicted in 1992 of shooting and killing his estranged wife's parents. [The Christian Science Monitor]

6.

Terrorists threaten to kill American hostage in Yemen

Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen has released a video threatening to kill Luke Somers, a 33-year-old photojournalist kidnapped last year, unless the U.S. meets an unspecified list of demands, the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors terrorist organizations, said on Thursday. Somers is believed to be one of the hostages U.S. special forces tried to rescue last month in a rare joint operation with Yemeni troops. The mission freed eight captives, but Somers and four others had been moved by their captors days before the raid. [The Associated Press]

7.

Appeals court clears path for gay marriages to begin in Florida next year

A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that it would lift a stay on a ruling overturning the state's gay-marriage ban in one month. The decision by a three-judge panel cleared the way for same-sex couples in Florida to get married as early as Jan. 6, the day after the stay expires. State officials had asked the court to extend the stay until the appeals are exhausted. Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, said the ruling found that "the harm is being done to the people, not the state." [The Miami Herald]

8.

Officer who shot 12-year-old had "dismal" record before Cleveland hired him

The police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland had been deemed unfit for duty by a suburban police department, but Cleveland police said Wednesday that they had never reviewed his old personnel file. The officer, Tim Loehmann, had "dismal" handgun performance during firearms qualification training, and "could not follow simple directions," Deputy Chief Jim Polak of the Independence police wrote. No amount of training will "correct the deficiencies," Polak said. Cleveland police are investigating the Nov. 22 shooting. [Cleveland.com]

9.

Denver police injured in accident

A driver who was experiencing a medical emergency on Wednesday hit four Denver police officers on bicycles who were monitoring students protesting a grand jury's decision not to indict the white Ferguson, Missouri, officer who shot and killed unarmed black teen Michael Brown in August. One of the officers was hospitalized in critical condition. The other officers were treated and released. The driver was in stable condition. Police said the accident appeared unrelated to the protests. [Colorado Springs Gazette]

10.

Military sexual assaults drop but reported cases rise

A new report due to be released Thursday found that the number of sexual assaults in the military dropped to about 19,000 this year from 26,000 two years ago, officials told The Associated Press. The victims included 10,500 men and 8,500 women, according to the anonymous survey. Despite the trend, the number of sexual assaults reported to military authorities rose by 8 percent, from 5,500 last year to 6,000 in 2014, as the number of victims filing reports increased from 1 in 10 in 2012 to 1 in 4 this year. [The Associated Press]