The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Kenyan Leader Says Seige Over As Terrorists’ American Ties Investigated

    Kenyan forces have cleared the Westgate Shopping Center in Nairobi after a four-day siege involving suspected Islamic militants. In a TV address, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta declared the situation over, saying that five attackers had been killed by troops and 11 suspects were in custody. Now the focus turns to who these attackers were, and why they turned on civilians going about their errands and their jobs. The al-Shabab terrorist organization, which also has deep American ties, has indicated that the brutal attack is a response to the 4,000-strong Kenyan detachment contributing to an African Union force fighting militants in southern Somalia. As international allies promise Kenya increased aid, it is clear that this event will mark a turning point in inter-African relations and a new chapter in the global war on terror. Starting on Wednesday, Kenya will observe three days of national mourning. 

    Sources: BBCCNN, Guardian

  2. In India, Two Appeals: A Convict Claims Innocence, a Wife Confronts Destitution

    The nation’s high court hears appeals this week from the four men sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a young woman on a New Delhi bus. The legal wrangling could take months. Meanwhile, the wife of one convict speaks out about her desperate plight, presented as an example of the clashing values of an India struggling to modernize. With no husband or education, she has no way to support herself or her child, essentially widowed already in a conservative, rural province where women rarely leave the house.

    Sources: The Guardian, WSJ

  3. Chrysler to Go Public, BlackBerry May Go Private, Apple Stock Soars

    A big news day for some of market’s biggest names means upheaval for some. Apple welcomed an even better launch weekend than expected, as the company sold nine million iPhones in the last three days. Shares rose 6 percent on the news and demand surpassed supply at many outlets around the world. Meanwhile, a consortium headed by BlackBerry’s largest shareholder Fairfax Financial has offered to buy the troubled tech manufacturer for a meager $4.7 billion, or $9 per share. And in an unexpected twist, Chrysler announced plans to go public, but only after being cajoled by one of its largest shareholders, a trust that provides health care coverage to retired autoworkers and their families.

    Sources:  USA Today, Forbes, NYT

  4. Muslim Brotherhood Silenced By Cairo Court

    Egyptian authorities are expanding their sweep to silence organizations affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Linking the crackdown to part of a concerted strategy against terrorism, the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters has ordered a halt to any Brotherhood-related “activities” and demands that its frozen assets be seized. The few Brotherhood supporters who dare vocalize their opposition are crying repression and claim the regime is squashing democratic dissent. The current leadership’s strong-arm tactics may remind some of former Egypt boss Hosni Mubarak, whose removal in 2011 initiated the avalanche of instability that has plagued Egypt.

    Sources: BBC, USA Today


  5. Blame for Global Warming Heats Up With U.N. Report

    According to Nobel laureate and U.N. climate panel head Rajendra Pachauri, scientists are “more certain” than ever of human activity’s role in climate change. The statements come ahead of the panel’s latest report, which is scheduled to be released on Friday in Stockholm. Other recent studies suggest that climate change could mean a 40 percent increase in severe storms across the eastern U.S., and that curbing air pollution could save millions of lives by diminishing the risks of inhaling cancerous fumes. Tiny island nations in the Pacific already feel the pain, with rising waters, droughts, and little power to fight rich nations, OZY notes today. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has confirmed that he plans to invite world leaders to a climate summit next year to discuss measures to address the issue.

    Sources:  BBC, USA Today, Telegraph (sub), Guardian


  1. China Buys 5 Percent of the Ukraine to Feed Its Citizens

    They aren’t looking for borscht. Over the next 50 years, a Ukrainian agrarian company will farm crops and pigs to be sold at preferential rates to a state-owned Chinese firm, while Ukraine receives equipment, a fertilizer plant, highway construction help, and other perks. It’s the latest, and possibly the largest, move in a growing trend of wealthier nations seeking more viable land in order to feed their growing populations. Indonesian officials, for example, are eying more than a million hectares in Australia, although the Aussies may not be so keen. 

    Sources: Quartz, Sydney Morning Herald

  2. Western Feminists Could Learn a Lot from Africa

    What’s the only country on earth where women make up the majority of parliament? Some snowy Scandinavian socialist paradise where universal health care and childcare grow on trees? Nope. Try Rwanda. And they’re hardly alone: the African Union, Malawi and Liberia are all steered by female leaders — putting Hillary and America in catch-up mode for 2016. So why, asks Minna Salami, has Western feminism not looked to Africa for some guidance instead of to countries like Iceland and Australia?

    Source: Guardian

  3. Estonia’s Prescient Tweeter-in-Chief

    Former U.S. president George W. Bush may have just sent out his first cat and baby pictures on Instagram, but Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves is taking social media-savvy amongst world leaders to a new level. Ilves has always conceived of the presidency as just, you know, “talking about things,” and so that is what he does with his 17,000 followers on Twitter. Ilves, who once wrote a sonnet a day to learn concision in writing, has learned to trim his insights from 140 syllables to 140 characters, tweeting regularly and urbanely about E.U. border controls, Thomas Pynchon and Estonia’s blisteringly hot start-up scene. Ilves’ Internet sensitivity also clued him in to cyber-security issues long before Edward Snowden — making Ilves an increasingly sought-out speaker and consultant. Not a bad way to raise the profile of a country with only 1.3 million people.

    Source: BuzzFeed

  4. Pro-Pot Spot Gathers Support in Super Bowl Ad Competition

    Intuit, the software company behind Quicken and Quickbooks, is watching Internet voters undermine its attempt to be the nice guy of the Super Bowl advertising wars. After the company announced that it would buy Super Bowl airtime not for itself, but for a small business that would b selected, in part, based on online voting, the pro-marijuana policy reform group NORML promptly garnered the most votes and secured an automatic spot in the semi-finals. While the group might not make it past a panel of judges and the NFL’s ad censors, its success demonstrates yet again the capacity for the masses to subvert the intentions of advertising executives and nab publicity for unexpected entities. This time Stephen Colbert wasn’t even involved.

    Source: Time

  5. The Tale of the One-Eyed Swashbuckling Feline Storming the Web

    If you have an Internet connection (which, evidently, you do) then in the last few days you’ve probably seen Sir Stuffington, hands down the world’s most adorable one-eyed pirate cat, but you might not know his tale. Blazer Schaffer, “pole acrobat, contortionist,” and animal lover, rescued him from a Portland shelter when she saw him suffering from a range of ailments not limited to the missing eye and damaged jaw that lend him his swashbuckling mien. Schaffer hit upon what sets her feline celebrity apart from the meme-worthy kitty crowd: “I love survivor stories… Even people who look different or feel different are just as amazing as everyone else, if not more so, because they have more of a fight in them.”

    Sources: Mother Jones, CNN

  6. Shaquille O’Neal Buys a Part of Former Basketball Rival

    The doctor is in. Dr. Shaquille O’Neal (he earned a doctorate in education from Barry University in May 2012) is the NBA’s latest celebrity owner, joining the Sacramento Kings in a role that probably requires him to generate more buzz than investment capital. But after being named by ESPN as the worst franchise in American pro sports, the Kings could use some good press. Though ten years ago he made headlines by dismissing the Sacramento franchise as the “Queens,” Shaq has gone straight to work on the PR front and promises the “new Kings” will be a team to watch. As the good doctor aptly diagnosed the situation, “…there’s no such thing as worser, which means we can only get better.”

    Source: USA Today