Presidential Daily Brief: Camp David Edition


  1. Syria Showdown’s Winners and Losers

    The sudden burst of diplomatic fervor that halted the march toward military strikes on Syria was good news for President Obama, although as USA Today reports, finding and getting rid of Syria’s chemical weapons while it’s in the middle of a civil war is going to be extremely difficult. Syria also seems happy with the deal — a spokesperson called it a victory for President Bashar Al-Assad. But the real winner appears to be Russian president Vladimir Putin, who basked in his role as global power broker. As The Economist points out, Putin may have pulled off a stalling tactic that supports a regime his government has been propping up. Less pleased were the Western-backed Syrian rebels who had hoped the building momentum would finally help oust Al-Assad. 

    Sources: NYT, L.A. Times, Washington Post

  2. Summers Is Out, So Who Will Be the Next Fed Head?

    Lawrence Summers withdrew as a candidate to lead the Federal Reserve on Sunday, done in, most likely, by three Democratic members of the Senate Banking Committee who recently announced they would not support his nomination. A former Treasury Secretary under President Clinton and a top Obama economic adviser, Summers was considered too cozy with Wall Street by some, although the President Obama praised his ”expertise, wisdom, and leadership.” Now the conversation shifts to who should succeed Ben Bernanke. Janet Yellen, vice-chair of the Fed, has the support of 300 economists, including Nobel prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, although perhaps not the White House itself. Other names being mentioned include Stiglitz himself, Stanley Fischer, an American citizen who was Governor of the Bank of Israel, and Donald L. Kohn, one of Bernanke’s top lieutenants.

    Sources: Wall Street JournalUSA Today, CNN, Washington Post

  3. Could Rupert Murdoch’s Tablet Empire Reshape Learning?

    From the perpetual crisis zone of the American education system comes another promised game-changer: a system that puts tablets in the hands of every teacher and student so lessons can be conducted through the screen. News Corp-owned Amplify is hoping to seize the early lead in this new model, claiming its programs will allow teachers to customize around each student’s needs and achieve better results in the classroom (plus, what kid doesn’t love gadgets?). Cue the obvious concerns: the loss of face time, possible links between screens and obesity, and privacy issues. And where do the teachers fall in all this? It’s complicated.

    Source: NYT

  4. A New Mayor Means a New Age for New York City, for Better or Worse

    As the Democratic mayoral front-runner, Bill de Blasio is all but assured of gaining the keys to City Hall. Pundits liken his bid to the 1993 battle pitting hard-charging Rudy Giuliani against a progressive David Dinkins, even as they begin examining Bloomberg’s legacy. Will the city’s struggling middle class and minorities, frustrated by Bloomberg-era policies, finally rise up? Or will this decade’s stunningly golden Big Apple lose its luster? 

    Source: Politico

  5. “Grand Theft Auto V” Has No Qualms Rolling Over Women

    The biggest video game release of the fall drops this week, but don’t look for any women to save the day. ”Grand Theft Auto V” offers only one vantage point of play: men. And that has some female fans seeing red because it doesn’t have to be that way. Bestselling BioShock Infinite is poised to take home some top game honors this year, and it features a groundbreaking female character. Plus, there’s the school of thought that posing women solely as victims or targets increases misogyny. Will ”GTA V” take the top-selling flag? Or will its one-sided nature cause it to fall flat before leaving the pit? 

    Source: Grantland


  1. Are High Art and Fine Wine Just an Illusion?

    New research casts doubts on the ability of both experts and laypeople to discern quality wine, music, and culture from the less “refined” varieties absent value cues like price points. Is it time to declare war on the snobs, experts, and connoisseurs? While it’s true that even experts must learn to overcome their initial, and often misplaced, intuitions, it turns out there are still roles for experience, training, and study in human judgment. Or maybe it’s that for both luxury items and high culture, the price and the packaging really are intrinsically part of the pleasure.

    Source: The Atlantic

  2. Low-Rollers Help Macau Spin the Wheel Toward Fortune

    Gambling has been legal for a century and a half on this tiny Chinese territory, but it wasn’t until recently that Macau became the Mecca of the gambling world. Vegas’s high rollers and revenue netted only one-sixth of Macau’s $38 billion haul last year. Macau’s transformation is not just about a once seedy backwater cleaning up its act, it’s about the evolution of the $160 billion gambling industry itself as The House moves East and focuses on the hoi polloi. Low-rollers, and not their subsidized, free-drinking, complementary-suited, counterparts, have higher profit margins, a secret Macau is taking all the way to the bank. 

    Source: The Economist

  3. Scientists and Philosophers At Play in (Possible) Parallel Worlds

    Steven Hawking once described the universe as a kind of “cosmic casino” whose dice rolls lead to divergent outcomes, and though we may see but one, all are real. Like Hawking, from Schrödinger’s cat to Sliding Doors, philosophers, artists and scientists have been fascinated with the notion of parallel worlds. But does an obsession with the “multiverse” of reality lead one down the primrose path to a dangerous historical relativism?

    Source: Aeon

  4. Is Jadeveon Clowney too Big to Not Fail?

    He launched “The Hit” heard round the world, and if it didn’t turn the 6’6”, 247-pound South Carolina defensive end into a legend overnight, then it certainly did after being replayed on SportsCenter for 45 days in a row. But now, with NFL scouts and fans watching his every move, the junior must live up to the hype of being a human highlight reel. When you’ve already ascended to sports’ viral media heights at age 20, is there anywhere to go but down?

    Source: Sports on Earth


  5. Surreal Timelapse Shows Imperceptible Effects of Aging

    You may have seen an acorn grow into a tree or even encountered some “portrait a day” photo ventures, but you’ve never seen a person age before your eyes—slowly, inevitably—like this. The five-minute evolution called “Danielle” is the work of filmmaker Anthony Cerniello and some FX friends, and is the product of thousands of scanned photos of the subject and her oldest and youngest kin.

    Source: Colossal