RSS
10 things you need to know today: October 30, 2013
Intelligence officials defend NSA spying, polio spreads in Syria, and more
A protestor watches the director of the NSA testify to Congress
A protestor watches the director of the NSA testify to Congress (REUTERS/Jason Reed)

1. NSA director denies reports of U.S. spying on Europeans
European Union delegates are going to the White House on Wednesday to discuss their concerns over recent reports that the National Security Agency conducted surveillance on European leaders and citizens. The NSA's director, Gen. Keith Alexander, testified to Congress on Tuesday that reports that the U.S. gathered phone and email records in Europe were "completely false." NATO partners collected the data and passed it on to the U.S., he said. [CNN, Associated Press]
………………………………………………………………………………

2. Polio spreads in war-torn Syria
The United Nations confirmed on Tuesday that children in Syria have been hit by an outbreak of polio as the country's two-and-a-half year civil war rages on. The flight of refugees from the most violent areas have increased the threat that the disease will spread, increasing the urgency behind vaccination campaigns. Recent tests confirmed polio in 10 children who fell ill in northeastern Deir al-Zour Province this month. [New York Times]
………………………………………………………………………………

3. Stock indexes reach record heights
The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average stock indexes closed at record highs on Tuesday. The gains came as investors and traders took comfort in a flurry of upbeat corporate earnings reports and indications from the Federal Reserve that it plans to press on with its efforts to stimulate the economy by pumping in money. Stock futures climbed further early Wednesday ahead of a Fed statement following a two-day policy meeting. [Fox Business, CNN]
………………………………………………………………………………

4. Republicans accuse Obama of breaking promise on health care
Hundreds of thousands of Americans are receiving notice that their health insurance policies will be canceled as of Dec. 31. Republicans on Tuesday seized on the news as evidence that President Obama had broken his promise that Americans could keep their current coverage under ObamaCare. "People weren't told the truth," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said. Administration officials said canceled policies would be replaced with better ones. [Washington Post]
………………………………………………………………………………

5. Oklahoma court finds limits on abortion-inducing drug unconstitutional
Oklahoma's highest court on Tuesday found a 2011 state law restricting the use of the abortion-inducing drug mifepristone to be unconstitutional. The ruling paves the way for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its first case on such drugs. If the justices decide to take up the case on appeal, they could clarify how far states can go to limit abortions in the wake of a 2007 decision upholding a ban on partial-birth abortions. [Wall Street Journal]
………………………………………………………………………………

6. A bus fire kills 42 in India
A luxury bus crashed into a highway barrier in southern India and caught fire, killing at least 42 people. Witnesses said the collision ruptured the fuel tank and the bus was engulfed in flames before many passengers realized what had happened. Most of them had been sleeping. The driver and six others escaped by breaking windows and climbing out. Police arrested the driver and his assistant as they reportedly tried to run away. [BBC News]
………………………………………………………………………………

7. Muslim Brotherhood leader detained in Egypt
Egyptian authorities have arrested senior Muslim Brotherhood leader Essam El-Erian at his home in New Cairo on Wednesday. Erian, the deputy leader of the Islamist group's political wing, had been in hiding since security forces began cracking down on the Brotherhood's leaders following the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi in July. He was one of just a few top Brotherhood officials still free. [Voice of America]
………………………………………………………………………………

8. Israel releases a second group of Palestinian prisoners
Israel freed 26 Palestinian prisoners on Wednesday as part of an effort to renew peace talks. The group was the second to be freed under a limited amnesty for 104 long-serving inmates as a goodwill gesture. Some of the former inmates had been convicted of murder, making the move hard for conservative Israelis to stomach, but increasing the chance it will give Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas an edge in his rivalry with Hamas. [Reuters]
………………………………………………………………………………

9. Former French hostages leave Niger
Four Frenchmen held hostage in the Sahara desert since 2010 by al Qaeda-linked gunmen left Niger on a French government plane early Wednesday. The men were kidnapped while working for a French nuclear group and a construction firm, and freed Tuesday after secret talks. "I am very happy," said Thierry Dol, one of the former hostages. "It was difficult, the ordeal of a lifetime." [Reuters]
………………………………………………………………………………

10. Singer Chris Brown heads to rehab
Chris Brown has checked into rehab to get "insight" into his behavior, his representative said late Tuesday. The singer was arrested Sunday after a Washington, D.C., brawl that left a man with a broken nose. Brown was previously convicted of felony domestic violence for attacking former girlfriend Rihanna before the 2009 Grammys. He faces a probation status hearing Nov. 20, and could face jail time if he is found in violation of his probation. [CNN]

Get '10 things you need to know today' in your inbox each morning. Sign up for the email version here.

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week