It’s the weekend: time to ease it back a little and settle in for some good reads. The OZY Camp David Edition has you covered this Saturday and Sunday. It’s still like your daily Presidential Daily Brief: a one-stop summary of the week’s best stories and what you need to know about them. But there are also some extra treats and additions as news happens. Think of it as the brunch you’ve been looking forward to all week, with juicy reads and meaty features. So grab an espresso and tuck into your sweet CDE.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Just past midnight on Sunday morning, under pressure from GOP hard-liners, the Republican-run U.S. House of Representatives voted to only keep the government running if Obamacare is delayed by one year and a tax to fund it is repealed. A separate House Republican bill passed that ensures military personnel continue to be paid, but more than 800,000 other federal workers face furloughs in the now more likely event of a government shutdown beginning Tuesday. The legislation heads back to the Senate on Monday, where politicians will have a final 10 hours to move past a stalemate. If they don’t? Economists warn of significant worldwide financial implications if the U.S. defaults on payments. For the nation, it could mean a severe recession and more. As one chief economist put it, ”It’ll be bedlam. It’ll be a mess.”
Berlusconi ministers resign, sparks Italy crisis, BBC
Kenya received warning of an attack day before Westgate, Guardian
U.N. adopts plan on Syria chemical weapons, Huffington Post
Barcelona star Messi injured in club-record seventh win, BBC
NSA mines data to map U.S. citizens’ social connections, NY Times
New Miss World 2013 crowned in Bali, CNN
It’s one for the history books. For the first time in more than three decades, the Presidents of the United States and Iran have spoken on the telephone. After days of promising gestures toward resolving the dispute over Iran’s controversial nuclear program, the two sides came to this pivotal point: a 15-minute chat. After the call, Obama appeared hopeful, saying that despite inevitable obstacles, he ”believes we can reach a comprehensive solution.” President Rouhani returned to Tehran to a “chaotic” scene of both cheering supporters and shoe-throwing opponents chanting “Death to America.” Talks between Iran and the negotiating group P5+1 are just weeks away. Could this mean a possible end to economic sanctions on Iran and the beginnings of peace?
The Pirates’ embrace their first trip to the post-season in 20 years. The Yankee’s mourn only their second time missing out in two years – and the bittersweet retirement of modern great Mariano Rivera, whose departure made even Yankee-haters go soft. Pundits wonder whether anyone would show up if the Rays end up hosting a game. Place your bets now and break out the Cracker Jacks, as the first wild card contest kicks off Tuesday night.
The national healthcare exchange is scheduled to kick in this Wednesday. The GOP predicts confusion, higher taxpayer costs, and little relief, and there’s already a lot of the first going around when it comes to cost and coverage. Essentially, no one can be denied for a pre-existing condition; people who already have coverage can still buy in if they want; there are several combinations of higher-premiums versus lower-payments, and vice versa; and there’s a national hotline and Web site. Still, many expect a lot of hiccups, and even more questions, during the rollout. The biggest question of all might not be answered for months, even years — is it worth it?
A former American spook calls Qassem Suleimani “the most powerful operative in the Middle East today.” Writer Dexter Filkins describes him as “mostly invisible,” small of stature, and quiet. Yet he is accused of assassinations, directing militants in Iraq to kill Americans, and now, abetting Syria’s President Assad. At least one U.S. general believes Syria would have failed already without Suleimani’s support, but with a new moderate in Iran, his reign of sectarian violence might slowly ebb.
Source: New Yorker
Vince Gilligan’s epic tale of one man’s descent from mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher to ruthless, Machiavellian meth kingpin came to a close Sunday night. Critics have called it transformative TV, and fans who may have been slow to get hooked popularized “binge watching” by catching up en masse on Netflix. The show’s been frightening, frustrating, often hilarious and always so, so smart. We felt triumph and despair in equal measures watching the series finale.
Peter Turchin and his research team have come to believe that sewing strife, not seeds, led our ancestors to morph from tiny packs of hunter-gatherers into larger, more permanent social units. Turchin’s work, which applies big data to historical research, could do nothing less than completely up-end our beliefs about our ancestors: that farming set humans on the road to complex social forms that would one day lead us to LOLcat pirates. Turchin admits the models aren’t perfect, but they demonstrate that our new ways of crunching numbers may reshape our view of civilation’s oldest challenges.
Rosario Crocetta, Sicily’s current President, is an enigmatic figure. He’s gay, Catholic and left-learning – a significant departure from some of his predecessors with links to organized crime and served prison time. A constant target for death threats and political protests, Crocetta works to rid the region of corruption, excessive spending and dizzying waste – often with a big infectious laugh, by smoking packs of cigarettes, and indulging in poetry on his iPhone. And he’s getting ready for something big to happen. A revolution of sorts. “I want to give the Sicilians a dream — a dream that change is possible.” Can this romantic lefty be the leader that helps Sicily to rise above its troubled past?
We’ve been laughing at these all week. Two Late Night vids have snagged millions of YouTube hits. The first pits Jimmy Fallon against his old ”pal” Justin Timberlake in a #hilarious hashtag-off. The worth-it moment: when Questlove makes his #bigentrance. The other vid, dubbed a ”Lip Sync Battle for the Ages,” sees returning champ Stephen Merchant take on newcomers Fallon and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a faux singing contest that turns into a wild-eyed, gyrating, microphone-stand-twirling spectacle. Highlights: Merchant’s “Boom! Shake the Room” and Levitt’s “Superbase.” But don’t let us spoil the show.
An inundated Colorado slowly picks up the piece from record flooding from a 100-year storm, with aerial photos only hinting at the breadth of the devastation. But experts say the cleanup could offer a blessing in disguise. The state needs to fix or replace at least 200 miles of highway, about 50 bridges, and more than 2,000 destroyed homes before winter hits — the governor’s self-imposed deadline is Dec. 1, barely two months away. But perhaps this could be a change to rebuild, say Vermont officials, who were there and did that post-Hurricane Irene. The flooding might present a rare chance to thoughtfully upgrade infrastructure and urban planning, and maybe better prep for the next storm.
In 2010, the writing was on the wall for the troubled smartphone firm, as its stock prices started to stumble. This week, the company declared intentions to go private. Pundits blame corporate dysfunction as well as BlackBerry’s inability to innovate under the twin blows of Apple and Google. A Canadian hedge fund magnate offers a small glimmer of hope – but if Prem Watsa succeeds, will BlackBerry as the world knows it disappear?
HRC in 2016? With the mega-meeting of her husband’s Clinton Global Initiative wrapped up, pundits turn to Hillary Clinton chances for a second go at the White House. Questions abound, especially when it comes to the family business of million-dollar charitable institutions. Fundraising figures show her well on the path to running. But her unique resume notwithstanding (first lady, senator, secretary of state), has her time passed?