The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Fed Decides Not To Taper Stimulus, No Relief for Main Street

    In a surprise move the Federal Reserve has announced that it will not scale back its massive bond-buying stimulus, and will continue purchasing bonds at an $85-billion monthly pace. This decision comes after Main Street received its own progress report Tuesday in the form of the U.S. federal government’s annual report on incomes and poverty. Despite slow but steady growth and more than two million new jobs added to the economy last year, the average American’s household income remained stagnant in 2012 — down 9 percent from 1999 — and the national poverty rate remained steady at 15 percent. The reason to delay tapering? The Fed is concerned about the rise in borrowing costs and wants to see “more evidence that progress will be sustained before adjusting the pace of its purchases.” 

    Sources: NYT, USA Today


  2. Several Dead After a Double-Decker Bus and a Train Collide

    A city bus smashed into a commuter train in Ottawa, Canada, on Wednesday morning in an accident that the mayor has called the worst in the city’s history. All of the casualties — at least six dead, including the bus driver, and at least another 30 injured— were on the bus. Some witnesses say that the vehicle failed to stop at the rail crossing and hit the train “head on,” but much remains unknown. The city’s Transportation Safety Board says that the investigation could take months to complete.

    Sources: CBC, CNN


  3. Shooter’s Alleged Mental Illness Revealed, While Security Questions Abound

    Fellow contractors are expressing shock that the Navy Yard gunman had security clearance to work there, as the investigation into exactly what happened Monday continues to unfold. For more than a decade, Aaron Alexis, the gunman who killed 12 at the Navy’s largest command center, suffered a range of symptoms from paranoia to auditory hallucinations, and he was arrested twice during the past ten years for weapons violations. The White House has ordered a security review; meanwhile one contractor points out a silver lining — at least safety will be so beefed up now, a copycat is far less likely. 

    Sources:  NYT, Washington Post

  4. Storms Above Acapulco Spur Major Evacuation

    Flash floods and landslides trigged by a clash of tropical storms — one Atlantic, one Pacific, meeting over Mexico — has shuttered some of the resort town’s famous and upscale areas. Some 40,000 tourists await air evacuations, cash is running out, and one visitor calls it a “panorama… of devastation.” At least 55 have died. One of the weather systems is expected to become a tropical storm, and officials say it will be at least two more days until the roads are passable.  

    Source: Die Welt, NBC News

  5. Did Occupy Wall Street Make a Difference?

    After the initial Occupy Wall Street rising took the nation by surprise, the media narrative coalesced into: “But seriously, who are your leaders and what do they actually want?” When the movement dismissed such commentary as the wrong way of thinking, commentators concluded OWS was doomed and moved on. Yet at the rally marking the movement’s two-year anniversary, Occupy stalwarts had some things to point to: the momentum behind the Robin Hood tax on financial institutions, the withdrawal of Larry Summers from the Fed race, the debate over the 99 percent. While it may have lost some mojo, Occupy, like the Tea Party party before it, has at least helped re-frame the national discussion on several key issues, most notably poverty and inequality, and its legacy will likely be felt even after the last tents and banners disappear.

    Source: NPR


  1. Starbucks to Customers: Leave Your Weaponry at Home

    Many national restaurant and retail chains ban firearms, but not Starbucks — until late yesterday. The beverage behemoth had chosen to abide by local state laws, which meant accepting concealed guns if the government did as well. But that landed the company in the crossfire, with gun aficionados holding “Starbucks Appreciation Days” and the stridently anti-gun taking the company to task. In the wake of mass shootings, Starbucks changed its stance, with a dash of  “don’t ask, don’t tell.” But will it change opinions? 

    Source: USA Today

  2. Striking Abuse in Japanese Sports Draws Scrutiny

    A video of a volleyball coach repeatedly slapping a teenager has generated more than a million YouTube views and is raising questions about Japan’s sports leadership once again, this time less than a month after the nation won the 2020 Olympic hosting bid. In the past two weeks, the national judo team was slammed for a series of abuses against underlings that had already been called the worst sports scandal in Japanese history. Last week another dozen teammates were suspended. Can Tokyo find some peace before the Games? 

    Source: Japan Times

  3. Man Ends Up Drunk Without Drinking a Drop: Thanks, Stomach.

    A 61-year-old Texas man recently found himself in the awkward position of being drunk, without having had a drink. Many drinkers have no doubt made this excuse in the past, but our poor Texan had a point. Given enough carbs, the microbes in his own stomach turned the contents into beer, a phenomenon known as “auto-brewery syndrome” and experienced by only a handful of other individuals. While it doesn’t meet biblical standards of turning water into wine, we wouldn’t be surprised if he’s now a deity in his local bar, nor shocked if his wife decided to put him on a low-carb diet or take away his car keys.

    Source: NPR

  4. Late, Great Gandolfini Shines in ‘Enough Said’

    Nicole Holofcener made her name in television as a director for series like Parks and Recreation and Sex in the City, and her new film is built around the unlikely — and brilliant — pairing of actors most commonly associated with TV roles, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini. The duo play recent divorcees who start dating as they are getting ready to send their respective daughters off to college. The upshot is a television trio that has shown Hollywood how to make a rom-com that is believable, empathetic and sensitive to the complexities of contemporary life. Pass the popcorn.

    Sources: USA Today, New York Times


  5. Gay Democratic Candidate ‘Comes Out’ to Tea Party Dad in Ad

    A campaign ad for a state lawmaker doesn’t often garner national attention, but the playful pitch released yesterday by Massachusetts Rep. Carl M. Sciortino is circulating well beyond the Bay State. With just a few weeks before a special primary election to succeed Rep. Edward J. Markey in the U.S. Congress, Sciortino, a gay Democrat from Medford vying for the spot with six other candidates, needed something to set his campaign apart. “I’ll never forget that conversation with my dad, where I had to come out and tell him…” the ad begins. And it just gets better from there.