Facing strong opposition from both Congress and the American public, President Obama said in a nationally televised address Tuesday night that he would reserve the option of military strikes in Syria while first pursuing Russia’s proposed diplomatic solution. Syria has said that it will sign an international chemical weapons treaty and disclose its stockpiles, but many observers question whether the disarmament process will work, and, as with the debt ceiling and so many other standoffs, the president may find himself right back where he started in a few months’ time.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The fat lady has not sung, but she is warming up to proclaim Democrat Bill de Blasio the next mayor of America’s largest city. With some votes still being tallied, the current public advocate appears to have just over the 40 percent needed to avoid a runoff election. And you don’t have to be Nate Silver to see that he would win a runoff just as easily as he will smoke his Republican opponent Joseph Lhota (yes, there was a GOP primary yesterday too) in November. Of course, life can turn on a dime, or a dime’s worth of crotch shots. Just ask Anthony Weiner, who finished dead last with 4.9 percent of the vote, and displayed a different appendage to reporters as he rode off to join fellow loser Eliot Spitzer in obscurity.
One of two leaders of Kenya’s ruling coalition government faced charges of crimes against humanity Tuesday at the International Criminal Court. William Ruto, along with current president Uhuru Kenyatta, is accused of orchestrating ethnically-motivated violence after the 2007 election. Around 1,200 were killed and more than half a million forced from their homes. After failing to establish its own inquiry into the violence, Kenya is now the only African nation other than Sudan to have a sitting leader facing charges at the ICC. Kenyatta’s trial begins in November.
In a remarkable referendum on one of the nation’s most divisive issues, Colorado voters booted two Democratic state senators in favor of more pro-gun Republicans. The rare recall election against Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron was backlash against stricter gun laws passed in the wake of the Newtown tragedy and the state’s own gun tragedy in Aurora. The races had garnered national attention — and national money — from both sides, from Michael Bloomberg to the NRA. Attention now turns to Democratic governor John Hickenlooper, who signed the gun reforms into law but has kept a low profile during the recalls as he attempts to hold onto his own job next year.
Could the 2020 Tokyo Olympics reverse the city’s real estate slide? The latest appraisal predicts apartment prices rising up to 20 percent in areas near Olympic venues as neighborhood residential populations quadruple. And that’s not even including the Olympic Village, expected to cost around 95 billion yen, or the thousands of workers expected to commute there as well. The Games themselves promise to be more modest, but critics say that’s a good thing after the blowouts – and big budgets – of this century’s Olympics so far.
Access to the area surrounding the World Trade Center will be limited today as family members of the nearly 3,000 victims of the September 11th attacks gather to remember their loved ones. But by next spring, the new 9/11 Memorial Museum should finally be open to visitors. Built around the foundations of the original towers and featuring massive displays — like two 70-foot tridents from the north tower and steel beams bent into eerily beautiful shapes by the nose of Flight 11 — the museum aims to remind visitors of both their seeming invincibility and their actual fragility. You can take a tour with the museum’s president here.
Source: CBS News
“Fiscal policy can be a matter of life and death,” claim health experts David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, whose research suggests that “if austerity had been a clinical trial, it would have been stopped.” They argue that Greece’s horrendous health outcomes in recent years, including escalating rates of suicide, HIV, TB, and malaria, are not the product of “myths” like an inefficient system or Greek laziness (the average Greek worked 600 hours more than the average German in 2011), but of devastating cuts to social programs. As proof that the Greeks’ physical suffering could have been avoided, they point to similarly distressed countries who opted for stimulus packages instead of austerity — and enjoyed much better health outcomes.
Its name means “the golden one,” but the estimated five million ounces of gold hidden in the El Dorado deposit in northern El Salvador have proven as elusive as the legends that brought explorers centuries ago. Latin America may be in the midst of a commodities boom, but in El Salvador, where 43 percent are underemployed and 20% of the country’s GDP is made up of remittances from families who live abroad, a massive debate rages about exploring the nation’s potential mineral wealth. Protests have prevented a Canadian mining company from opening mines on land it purchased 11 years ago, despite the jobs that such mines could provide. As President Obama grapples with the Keystone pipeline, El Salvador’s government wrestles with a similar question: whether striking gold is worth the risk it might pose to drinking water, agriculture, and its citizens’ health.
Source: Christian Science Monitor
The winner of the Man Booker Prize receives a check for £50,000 ($78,000), but the British Commonwealth’s version of the Pulitzer Prize also entails such a boost in sales and prestige that agents, publishers, and booksellers await its announcement with almost as much anticipation as the nominated authors. The shortlist for this year’s prize includes the first Zimbabwean nominee (NoViolet Bulawayo), a Canadian Buddhist priest (Ruth Ozeki), and previously-decorated authors Jim Crace, Colm Toibin, and Jhumpa Lahiri. But the current favorite to win among bookmakers (yes, betting on the prize is also big business) is 27-year-old New Zealander and relative unknown Eleanor Catton. If Catton prevails with The Luminaries — a ghost story set in the goldfields of New Zealand in 1866 — she’ll be the youngest winner in the prize’s history.