If anyone expected President Obama to come groveling to the GOP after its resounding victories Tuesday, they were surely disappointed. While Obama said he heard the voters’ message, he gave no indication of change in the final two years of his presidency. That means showdowns, starting with executive action on immigration — a move House Speaker John Boehner warned would invite “big trouble.” The GOP is also spoiling for a fight on Iran, Obamacare and the Keystone XL pipeline, putting gridlock first on the agenda.
The Presidential Daily Brief
On Monday, the President embarks on a journey to redefine relations overseas. In belligerent China, backsliding Burma and ally Australia, he’ll invest in face time with heads of state and trade. Particularly at this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Conference, he’s expected to shift America’s emphasis from swords to market share. With the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact set to be brokered for 40 percent of the world’s economy — excluding China — some fragile, potentially volatile economic relationships hang in the balance.
The people of Nigeria’s northeast have a history of fighting their own battles. There’s Boko Haram, the Islamist insurgent group reviled for kidnapping nearly 300 schoolgirls. Then there’s the community vigilantes determined to stop the boastful terror group. Formed in 2013, the Civilian Joint Task Force has thousands of volunteers trying to drive the rebels out of the oil-producing country’s poorest region. With the corruption-hampered Nigerian military consistently failing in that mission, these volunteers are holding the line with few resources and low-budget weapons.
The revolution has consumed itself. Today’s Islamic Republic has vastly-expanded education, a Ph.D.-packed parliament and links — albeit black market — to the world’s information network. It also enjoys a developed-world birth rate and a population bump of 20-to-30-somethings. The student revolutionaries of 35 years ago have become moderates, and even Ayatollah Khomeini’s grandkids have criticized the regime and embraced Instagram. Iran has matured and appears much closer to embracing the West.
The Economist (sub)
Hundreds of thousands flood German capital to celebrate 25th anniversary of Wall’s demise. (DW)
U.S. airstrike targets gathering of top ISIS leaders. (Washington Post)
Released Americans arrive home from North Korea. (NPR)
Suspicion of Mexican government in student killings sparks protests. (BBC)
Sinking oil prices benefit airline and auto industries. (WSJ)
It’s where it all started and soon may end. The Middle East has been home to Christians for two millennia, but will they survive 2014? Over centuries of persecution, their population has dwindled. With bloody ISIS purges across Iraq, they may face extinction. Once-flourishing subcultures in places like Lebanon and Egypt are also seeing waves of persecution and violence. Many in Iraq, their houses painted with the Arabic letter for “Nazarenes,” are leaving churches empty, and anthropologists fear they’ll disappear entirely from the land of the prophets.
Christianity Today (sub)
He’s single, he’s sexy and he leans far to the right. Enchanté, Julien Rochedy. After helping the electoral campaign and leading the National Front’s youth wing for four years, this 26-year-old has become the fresh new face of the French far right. Well spoken, handsome and deeply ideological, Rochedy is resonating with voters who admire his controversial but sophisticated and uncompromising views on issues like homosexuality and immigration. And his good looks aren’t doing him any harm either.
Meet the Rurbanistas — urbanites with a foot in the rural world and a stake in the rise of Modern Farmer magazine. Founder Ann Marie Gardner had a vision: Bring hayseed tales to office workers who fantasize about chickens, anti-establishment pieces to small organic farmers and take the “farm-to-table” movement to an intellectual extreme. In a record three issues, it won the National Magazine Award. But plaques aren’t money in the bank, and therein lies a parallel story of publishing in the post-print age.
He fled the Khmer Rouge on one of the last flights out. And yet Ted Ngoy, a penniless father, ended up ruling the California doughnut landscape for decades. Gambling and a younger woman proved his downfall, but first he lifted a generation of his fellow Cambodian expats with jobs and stores for everyone. His rise still reverberates today, as Dunkin’ Donuts struggles for a foothold in the Golden State, trying to find the hole in Ngoy’s legacy of 1,500 independent shops.
It wasn’t a Bulls highlight-reel basket, an NBA buzzer-beater or pro championship helicopter jumper that put Michael Jordan on the path to basketball divinity. No, it was “the shot,” a single 16-footer during his freshman year of college. It won an NCAA Championship for his home-state North Carolina Tar Heels and vaulted him to fame. And it capped a season that began with the 19-year-old pushing around A.V. Carts for his more touted teammates, whose names you’d have to Google today.