The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Military Takes Control of Shopping Center Under Siege

    Smoke, gunshot, and helicopters overhead turned a Nairobi neighborhood into a scene more like a war zone, locals said, as Kenyan forces staged a final assault on the upscale Westgate mall that’s been under deadly siege since Saturday morning. The attack, claimed by Somalian militant group Al-Shabaab, has so far resulted in at least 62 deaths and another 175 wounded, with those numbers expected to rise. The militants have refused to negotiate, but in the past have demanded that Kenya withdraw its army from Somalia, a proposition roundly rejected by President Uhuru Kenyatta, whose own nephew was killed in the attack. The turmoil in Kenya will undoubtedly further complicate the International Criminal Court’s effort to try Kenyatta for crimes against humanity at The Hague in November. In an unprecedented move, the ICC permitted Kenya’s deputy president, also on trial, to return home for a week to help manage the crisis. Meanwhile, investigations begin into just who these attackers were, with some sources saying the terrorists may have hailed from several nationalities.

    Sources: CNN, The Guardian, NPR

  2. Angela Merkel Pulls a Margaret Thatcher, But Tough Talks Lie Ahead

    After securing her third term as German Chancellor in yesterday’s elections, Angela Merkel has become the first European incumbent to win re-election since the euro crisis worsened in 2010 and is set to overtake former British PM Margaret Thatcher as the longest-serving elected female leader in European history. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and its sister party won 41.5 percent of the vote and fell just a handful of seats short of an absolute majority, a feat that has eluded every German chancellor since 1957. Merkel will likely be forced into a grand coalition with her largest rival, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), which despite a disappointing finish will be looking to extract some major concessions like a minimum wage bill in exchange for forming a government.

    Sources: Der Spiegel, NYT

  3. Fears of Taliban Rising as Suicide Bombers Kill 81 at Church

    Nearly 500 worshipers were leaving All Saints Church in Peshawar for a post-worship meal when two suicide bombers struck. Some 120 people were wounded. The bombers carried explosives loaded with shrapnel, designed to inflict heavy damage. A lesser-known Pakistani wing of the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks in northwest Pakistan, which were prompted by an alleged desecration of the Quran. Though the more prominent wing of the Pakistani Taliban denied involvement, fears of increased Taliban activity rise in the region.

    Sources: Al Jazeera, USA Today

  4. Powerful Storm Lashes Mainland China 

    Typhoon Usagi set a course for the world’s most densely-populated cities, in southern China, after cutting a deadly swath through the Philippines and Taiwan. More than two dozen have died in China already, hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated, thousands of flights were halted, trains were stopped, and a major international shipping lane shut down. The storm just missed Hong Kong, but investors around the world should still brace for impact in the coming days.

    Sources: CNN, Bloomberg

  5. Navy Yard Memorial, iPhone Sensor Hacking, Harvard Goes Big

    Obama leads mourning for Navy Yard victims, renews plea for greater gun control.  (NYT).

    North Korea appears to be firing up its old nuclear reactor. (Economist).

    Assad claims opposition fighters may attack U.N. weapons inspectors.  (CNN).

    Apple iPhone 5S’s fingerprint sensor cracked by German hackers. (Guardian).

    Harvard launches record-breaking capital campaign. (USA Today). 


  1. The Real Importance of Those Pretty, Shiny, Golden Emmys

    The red carpet has been rolled up, the paparazzi have decamped, and TV fans have tuned back in to their shows. Emmy who? But for some the impact of Sunday’s awards will linger. A revealing white sheath put Taylor Schilling on the fashion A-list alongside household names like Claire Danes. But the big splash is the groundbreaking wins by cable channels and Netflix — the first online channel to ever win one of the major Emmys — as they officially take the must-see mantle from network television (even if Kevin Spacey was robbed). Anyone want to bet on 2014? 

    Sources: WSJ, Forbes

  2. Zut Alors! Is French Culinary Tradition Slipping?

    First, the nation eats so little of the traditional baguettes that the bakers’ lobby goes pleading. Then an American tries to show them up by introducing kale. This past weekend marked France’s Fête de la Gastronomie, while the Palace of Versailles announced a new line of gourmet foodstuffs modeled, in part, after Louis XIV’s penchant for exotic horticulture.  Will that be enough for the land of coq au vin to reclaim the nation’s cooking crown?

    Sources: NPRFrance 24

  3. Former Chinese Party Man Bo Xilai Will Spend Life Behind Bars

    It was a high-profile corruption trial as soap-opera theater. Former Chinese Communist Party official Bo Xilai drew a life sentence for charges that included bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power. The court rejected Bo’s claims that his confession was coerced by torture and intimidation, and instead found him guilty of trying to thwart an investigation into his wife’s murder of a British businessman. The scandal marked a rare crackdown on a Party official once considered untouchable, and state-run media portrayed the prosecution of the former rising star as proof that the government means business when it comes to corruption. But will the trial, which gave Chinese citizens an unusually clear glimpse into the vices of the ruling party elite, whet public appetite for further corruption investigations?

    Sources: BBC, WSJ (sub)

  4. Facing Doom, BlackBerry Gets Back to the Basics

    The future doesn’t look bright for BlackBerry Limited after a tough year and a quarterly operating loss of up to $995 million. The maker of what used to be the industry-standard mobile device for business users has struggled since iPhone and other smartphones, with their keyless “keyboards,” have dominated the telecommunication market. Last week, Blackberry announced it would let go about 40 percent of its workforce, more than 4,000 employees worldwide. Stocks have sunk 20 percent since Friday and it’s doubtful whether Blackberry will find a buyer after going on sale last month. Executives looking for higher ground have latched onto a core model based on selling smartphone services to business clients, but it will likely take a miracle for CEO Thorsten Heins to reverse the Canadian company’s fortunes.

    Sources: Guardian, WSJ (sub)

  5. China’s Richest Man Announces $8 Billion Film Studio

    How do you say “roll ’em” in Mandarin? Chinese cinefiles rank as the world’s second largest movie audience, with $2.7 billion in box office receipts last year. But domestic production has lagged behind demand from a swelling middle class – until now. Wang Jianlin, China’s richest man with personal assets estimated as high as $22 billion, wants to help. He’s opening a new multi-billion dollar monument to the silver screen, which will include everything from an underwater stage to a wax museum to extensive studio space. The curtain won’t go up on this movie mecca until 2017, but you can expect Tinseltown firms won’t wait until then to start paying more attention to a rising rival across the Pacific. After all, as OZY explores today, Hollywood itself was the product of a similar westward migration over a century ago.

    Sources:  LA Times, WSJ (sub)

  6. NFL Star, ‘Star-Struck’ Collector Conspired to Cheat

    You can forgive a football fan for being impressed by Von Miller: Denver’s Pro Bowl linebacker was recently named among the game’s ten best at any position. But we ask more from those trusted with the solemn duty of collecting fluids from our pro athletes. And so as the undefeated Broncos prepare for tonight’s match-up with the Oakland Raiders, it comes as a disappointment to hear that Miller, currently serving a six-game ban for violating NFL substance abuse policy, persuaded a “star-stuck” collector to switch his tainted sample for a clean batch. Luckily another collector realized that Miller wasn’t even in the city where he was to drop his trousers. “He’s fast but he’s not that fast,” said one source. The NFL could implement fingerprint technology as a result, but for now fans of a level playing field should be justifiably angry.

    Source: ESPN

  7. Surprise! The 2013 Emmy Awards Upset the Apple Cart

    As fans of the series “Breaking Bad” prepare for the show’s final episode, they can take solace in the fact that the popular drama finally won an Emmy for best drama series after three previous nominations. But in a night that was filled with surprises, not everything broke for “Bad.” “The Newsroom’s” Jeff Daniels took home the award for outstanding lead actor in a drama over “Bad” star Bryan Cranston, and “Boardwalk Empire’s” Bobby Cannavale won over co-star Aaron Paul for supporting actor. Other upsets included “The Voice” for reality-competition program, and top acting honors for “Veep’s” Julia Louis-Dreyfus. As host Neil Patrick Harris observed, “Nobody in America is winning their Emmy office pool.”

    Sources: USA Today, CNN