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News Wrap: Supreme Court Rules on Ohio Voting Law, Won’t Block Early Voters

October 16, 2012 at 12:00 AM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The U.S. Supreme Court handed Democrats and President Obama a victory today. The court refused to block Ohio voters from casting ballots on the last three days before Election Day. Changes in state law would have stopped early voting during that period for everyone except military personnel and people living abroad. Democrats argued that amounts to unequal treatment and a lower federal court agreed. Today, the Supreme Court refused to intervene.

More than 56 million Americans are going to be getting just a bit more money from Social Security. It’s part of an annual cost-of-living adjustment. The announcement today said monthly payments will rise by 1.7 percent starting in January. That works out to an average bump of roughly $21 a month, or $252 a year. The adjustment is based on the rate of inflation, which has been relatively low in 2012.

Regulators in Europe have asked Google to clarify its new privacy policy and make it easier for users to opt out. The policy allows the Internet giant to combine data collected across many services, from Gmail to YouTube. It can then target people with advertising based on their interests and search histories. French officials led the European investigation. They argued today that Google’s users need much more information.

ISABELLE FALQUE-PIERROTIN, French National Commission on Computing and Freedom: Well, as a user, you probably don’t know that the data collected through your search can be personalized through the data collected through your — the mobile phone or your localization. So, the user doesn’t know exactly which use is made from his data. So, this is, I mean, the major problem.

HARI SREENIVASAN: In a letter, European officials asked Google to spell out what data is collected and how long it can be used. The company said it’s reviewing the request.

In Afghanistan, security officials denied that a suicide bomber who killed two U.S. troops was a member of the Afghan intelligence agency. The attack took place over the weekend. Meanwhile, The New York Times reported a high turnover rate is forcing the Afghans to replace a third of their troops each year. The story cited desertions and low reenlistment for the high attrition.

Security was stepped up today at a British hospital where a Pakistani girl activist is being treated after being shot by the Taliban; 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai was flown to Birmingham, England, on Monday. Within hours, police questioned two people who attempted to visit her, claiming to be relatives. The hospital director said there was no indication of any threat to the girl’s safety.

Thieves carried out a brazen art heist overnight at a museum in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. Seven paintings were stolen, including works by Monet, Picasso, and Matisse, among others. They’re part of a private collection that was being exhibited publicly for the first time. Police did not explain how the robbers managed it, but one museum security expert said they had to get through a sophisticated security system.

TON CREMERS, Dutch Museum Security Network: The alarm response was very quick. So, thieves were not able to steal many paintings, but, unfortunately, they managed to get out with a few paintings. These paintings will remain on the crime scene for many, many years. Maybe, because they can’t sell them, they might destroy them. But it’s — again, it’s impossible to sell them.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The paintings would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars if they were sold legally.

The CEO of Citigroup abruptly resigned today, effective immediately. Vikram Pandit and his chief operating officer, John Havens, both stepped down. Citigroup said Michael Corbat will step in as CEO. He had been the bank’s chief executive for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The company gave no explanation for the sudden departures, but The Wall Street Journal reported Pandit had clashed with the board over strategy and performance.

Wall Street had a good day, thanks to a batch of strong earnings reports. They came from Mattel, Johnson & Johnson, and other bellwether companies. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 127 points to close well above 13551. The Nasdaq rose nearly 37 points to close at 3101.