Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 31, 2013

The Red Sox win the World Series, Sebelius and Obama take responsibility for Healthcare.gov glitches, and more

1. Red Sox win the World Series at home
The Boston Red Sox won the World Series with a 6-1 victory in game six over the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday night. It was the first time since 1918 the team had sealed a Series championship at home. "It was just an unbelievable feeling to do this in front of our fans," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. The Red Sox, led by MVP David Ortiz, are the first team since the 1991 Twins to go from last in their division to a Series crown in one year. [Boston Globe, USA Today]
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2. NSA reportedly intercepted information from Google and Yahoo users
The National Security Agency has secretly tapped into the system connecting Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, The Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing interviews as well as documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. One hand-drawn sketch created by a NSA worker portrayed how information from the Google Cloud could be intercepted. Two Google engineers erupted in profanities when they saw it. [Washington Post]
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3. Sebelius and Obama take responsibility for Healthcare.gov disaster
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took responsibility Wednesday for the botched rollout of the ObamaCare website. "Hold me accountable for the debacle," she told the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Furious Republicans want her to resign. CBS News says Sebelius gave the "all clear" even though the site crashed in tests days before launch. President Obama said he takes "full responsibility" for fixing the problems. [Associated Press, CBS News]
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4. Fed policy makers keep the stimulus going
The Federal Reserve announced Wednesday that it was prolonging its campaign to boost the economy by purchasing $85 billion a month in bonds and other assets. The decision came after a two-day meeting of Fed policy makers, and provided little insight into when the central bank might make a change. The Fed said the job market was slowly improving, but that fiscal policy (meaning spending cuts, the shutdown, etc.) are "restraining economic growth." [New York Times, CNN]
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5. New York ups the age for buying tobacco to 21
The New York City Council voted Wednesday to raise the legal age for buying cigarettes to 21, from 18, giving New York the toughest limit on tobacco sales of any major U.S. city. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he will sign the measure, which will take effect six months after he does. Critics say it's unfair to tell people old enough to vote or join the military they can't smoke, but advocates say higher age limits will keep many young people from getting hooked. [Associated Press]
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6. Syria disables its chemical weapon factories as promised
Syria has met a deadline to destroy or disable its chemical weapons production facilities, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said Thursday. The watchdog, which won the Nobel Peace Prize this month, said its inspectors had confirmed the work. Syria's next deadline under its ambitious disarmament push is Nov. 15, when it must agree to a detailed plan to destroy its 1,000-plus metric tons of chemical agents and weapons. [Reuters]
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7. China arrests suspects tied to Tiananmen crash and fire
Chinese authorities announced Wednesday that they had detained five suspects in connection with a fiery crash that killed five people, including two tourists, in Tiananmen Square this week. Investigators said the men, all ethnic Uighurs from China's western Xinjiang region, were Islamic jihadists who got a man, his wife, and his mother to drive across a crowded sidewalk and toward the entrance to the Forbidden City. [New York Times]
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8. Iraq says it needs more U.S. military aid
Two years after the departure of U.S. troops following the collapse of security talks, Iraq reportedly plans to ask the Obama administration for more weapons and training to counter an increase in attacks by al Qaeda-linked suicide bombers. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki plans to discuss the request Friday with President Obama at the White House. A bipartisan group of senators said this week that the surge in violence was partly Maliki's fault. [Al Jazeera, CNN]
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9. Facebook stock rises, and falls
Facebook's stock jumped by 15.5 percent on Wednesday after the social networking giant reported a sharp increase in profits and revenue that shattered Wall Street's expectations. The shares hit an all-time high of $56.65 in after hours trading, but the euphoria didn't last. Facebook shares dropped again in extended trading after the company acknowledged that usage by teenagers has decreased recently. [USA Today]
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10. Woman is fined for driving while wearing Google Glass
A California woman topped everyone ever busted for the dangerous habit of texting while driving. Cecilia Abadie, 44, got a ticket this week for motoring down a Southern California interstate while wearing a Google Glass headset computer. "Is Google Glass illegal while driving or is this cop wrong???" Abadie posted online. "Any legal advice is appreciated." The state Highway Patrol said it's illegal to drive with a video monitor on in the front seat. [Los Angeles Times]

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