Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 7, 2012

Obama and the Democrats raise $181 million, Venezuelans head to the polls, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion

1. OBAMA, DEMOCRATS RAISE $181 MILLION IN SEPTEMBERThe Obama administration and the Democratic National Committee raised $181 million in September, falling just shy of the all-time monthly record of $193 million, which was set by Obama in September 2008, but easily eclipsing the August total of $114 million. The re-election campaign is on track to raise $1 billion for the 2012 election. Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus called the number "impressive," saying he wasn't sure if the GOP would be able to match it. Still, Priebus said, "We will have all the money we need to be competitive." [Washington Post, The Hill]………………………………………………………………………………

2. VENEZUELANS VOTE IN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONVenezuelans are going to the polls on Sunday in what is predicted to be "the country's most tightly contested presidential election in a decade." Longtime leader and left-wing President Hugo Chavez, who was elected in 1998, is being challenged by opposition leader Henrique Capriles. The challenger has promised to bring economic growth to the country, accusing Chavez's socialist policies of causing inefficiency and shortages in Venezuela. [BBC]………………………………………………………………………………

3. DEATH TOLL IN MENINGITIS OUTBREAK CLIMBS TO 7Health officials in 23 states are trying to find patients who, to treat back pain, were given steroid injections that may have been contaminated with a deadly fungus-related meningitis. Seven people have already died as a result of the outbreak, and at least 64 have fallen ill in nine states. The drug was manufactured by a specialty pharmacy, New England Compounding Center of Framingham, Mass., which last week voluntarily recalled three lots of the steroid. [HealthDay]………………………………………………………………………………

4. SOUTH KOREA TRIPLES MISSILE RANGEUnder a new deal with the U.S., South Korea will nearly triple the range of its ballistic missiles, allowing it to strike all parts of North Korea and a sliver of China. The bilateral agreement comes after nearly two years of negotiations and "takes a modest step to close the technology gap with the North, an authoritarian police state that devotes as much as one-quarter of its gross national product to the military." [Washington Post]………………………………………………………………………………

5. CALIFORNIA GAS PRICES HIT RECORD HIGHOn Saturday, gas prices in California hit a record high of $4.614 for a gallon of regular. Some gas stations in the state are charging more than $5 a gallon for regular. Gasoline prices skyrocketed after the Exxon Mobil refinery in Torrance was knocked offline Monday by a power outage. Other lingering refinery and pipeline problems also contributed to the soaring costs at the pump. [Los Angeles Times]………………………………………………………………………………

6. PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT REACHES DEAL WITH REBELSPhilippine President Benigno Aquino says his government has reached a preliminary agreement with Muslim rebels to end a decades-long insurgency that has killed at least 100,000 people in the south. "This means that hands that once held rifles will be put to use tilling land, selling produce, manning work stations, and opening doorways of opportunity for other citizens," Aquino said. [Bloomberg]………………………………………………………………………………

7. OBAMA ADVISER: ROMNEY WAS MASTERFUL IN DEBATEAppearing on ABC's This Week on Sunday, senior Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs praised Mitt Romney's debate performance last Wednesday as "masterful" — three times. Not to be confused as a Romney supporter, though, Gibbs added that while Romney delivered a "theatrical" performance, it was also "dishonest." [Politico]………………………………………………………………………………

8. POPE'S FORMER BUTLER GET 18 MONTHS IN PRISONPope Benedict XVI's former butler Paolo Gabriele was convicted on Saturday of stealing the spiritual leader's private papers and leaking them to a journalist, who published them in a book. Gabriele was sentenced to 18 months in prison. While he admitted to taking thousands of documents from the pope's private apartments, and leaking them, Gabriele believed he was not guilty of theft because he was doing it for the good of the church — "to bring the church back on the right track," and to show the "evil and corruption" of the church. [ABC News]………………………………………………………………………………

9. O'REILLY AND STEWART DUKE IT OUT IN DEBATEFox News host Bill O'Reilly squared off against Comedy Central host Jon Stewart in a televised debate on cable on Saturday. The event, titled "The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium," had the two ideologically opponents square off on everything from entitlements to the economy. Stewart, the host of The Daily Show, argued that many on the Right live in an "alternate reality." O'Reilly accused Stewart of defending an addled, entitlement-laden society. [Los Angeles Times]………………………………………………………………………………

10. JAY-Z ENDS CONCERT SERIES WITH WIFE BEYONCEJay-Z surprised fans by taking the New York City subway to his last concert in a series of eight at the newly opened Barclays Center in the rapper's native Brooklyn, and later by performing twice with his wife Beyonce. The superstar singer joined her husband onstage to perform their 2003 duet "Crazy in Love" during the middle of the show and "Young Forever" at the end. [New York Daily News]

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