The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. The Gentleman from Texas Tries to Bust Obamacare By Channelling Seuss

    No, really. Watch him read Green Eggs and Ham as part of a 21-hour Senate filibuster over defunding Obamacare, which is slated to begin Oct. 1. In a nutshell, a House budget bill passed that included defunding the program, the Democratic Senate wants no part of it, but if Congress can’t get both houses in order soon, the government could face a shut-down. Got all that? The Washington Post and NPR offer a cheat-sheet and FAQ. Meanwhile, more figures — what Obamacare will cost. If you’re not a math person, the highlights have also been set to poetry.

    Sources: WSJ (sub), Business Insider (video), Mother Jones

  2. Obama and Rouhani Pledge Engagement But Don’t Meet

    American and Iranian leaders have not met for 36 years, and it looks like that streak will remain intact a little longer. Despite speculation that President Obama and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani might bump into each other at the U.N. General Assembly, reports indicate that a meeting will not take place. Hours after Obama expressed a willingness to engage Iran diplomatically, Rouhani continued his “charm offensive” with his own speech before the U.N., claiming that Iran too was open to talks with the U.S. “to manage differences.” Despite Iran’s support for the Syrian regime, even the prospect of dialogue is a positive development following the nadir of the Ahmadinejad administration.

    Sources: CNN, Politico

  3. Pundits Call the Race a Comeback for the Ages

    For U.S. sports fans, the typical America’s Cup audience might be the very rich, sailing hobbyists, and a handfull of curious nearby onlookers. Not this year, when the race bumped fall baseball and NFL injuries off the front page. Oracle Team USA, penalized for controversial boat alterations during preliminary races earlier this year, needed to win 11 out of 17 America’s Cup challenges. Team New Zealand needed only nine wins. The heated competition stretched to a historic 19 days, the Americans came back from a 0-8 deficit, and even non-sailors flooded the docks to watch the Americans and Kiwis duke it out. Team USA’s victory in the final do-or-die race on gusty San Francisco Bay was a stunning sight.

    Sources: USA TodayNYT

  4. Brazil’s Rousseff Scolds U.S. at U.N. for Spying

    Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff condemned NSA surveillance of her office, calling it an “affront” and a “breach of international law,” when she addressed the U.N. General Assembly shortly before President Obama had his turn in the spotlight. Information provided by Edward Snowden to The Guardian indicated that the U.S. spy agency had detailed knowledge of Rousseff’s online habits, which prompted the Brazilian president to cancel a trip to Washington earlier this month. The incident has damaged relations among otherwise friendly states, and, as OZY details, don’t expect Brazil’s Madam President to back down anytime soon.

    Sources: The Guardian, USA Today

  5. Ex-Pope Benedict Rejects Abuse Cover-up Allegations

    In response to a book by a prominent Italian atheist, former Pope Benedict XVI has for the first time publicly denied stifling investigations into pedophile Catholic priests. The emeritus Pope pointed out that the proportion of abusive priests is no higher than in other professions and emphasized that despite the publicity the crisis was not an exclusively Catholic one. Even though it’s not exactly an endorsement for tracking down those responsible, Benedict’s attempt to engage the Vatican’s critics on such a divisive issue will help current Pope Francis’s efforts to restore the church’s moral authority in the wake of the abuse scandals.

    Sources: BBC, Reuters

  6. Kenyan Siege Ends, Quake Shakes Pakistan, ‘Genius Grants’ Awarded

    The President of Kenya declares siege over. (Washington Post).

    Powerful earthquake kills more than 200 in Pakistan, raises a new island. (CNN).

    U.S. Senator Ted Cruz speaks into the night in bid to defund Obamacare. (Reuters).

    China to lift ban on Facebook and Twitter within Shanghai free-trade zone. (SCMP).

    MacArthur Foundation announces this year’s “genius grant” recipients (USA Today).

  7. Nervous China Takes Action on North Korean Arms

    China has banned certain items from export to North Korea for fear that they could be used to develop nuclear weapons. The North’s strongest ally is concerned about the resumption of plutonium development at a complex in the rogue state. China’s proactive actions are welcome as they indicate that the People’s Republic is enforcing an American-backed U.N. resolution that aims at preventing North Korea from developing weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear arms. Although it is troubling that the wayward state continues to pursue its diabolical ambitions, there’s no question that leaders around the world appreciate China taking steps to clean up its backyard.

    Sources: NYT, The Guardian


  1. Global Elites Gather to Discuss the Future of Ukraine

    Any time you get the likes of Gerhard Schröder, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and David Petraeus together, you would expect the implications to be big — particularly when they are gathered at the same Yalta palace where FDR, Churchill, and Stalin once gathered to plot the future of Europe. But the timing of this year’s Yalta European Strategy conference on the future of Ukraine made for unusually dramatic diplomatic maneuvering — including an address from the jailed former Ukrainian PM Yulia Tymoshenko. Ukraine is very close to signing a free trade agreement with the EU in November, which could spark a trade war with Russia. And Russia’s bullying, dismissive attitude towards its largest western neighbor seems only to be pushing Ukraine ever faster into Europe’s waiting arms.

    Source: The Economist

  2. Producers of Ayn Rand Film Solicit Online Donations

    The market can be a cruel place. And no one knows that better than the Ayn Rand acolytes producing the third and final film installment of Rand’s magnum opus. After the public shrugged at their first two films, the objectivist filmmakers have decided to ask for handouts on Kickstarter to help finance Atlas Shrugged III. Though they refer to the listing as “marketing” (which may well get the project removed from the site for a Terms of Service violation) and claim they do not need the money, the producers do seem to be earnest about wanting generous donations from you lesser beings to spread the gospel against, well, charity and selflessness. Talk about a novel twist.

    Sources: Salon, A.V. Club

  3. Something is Rockin’ in the State of Denmark

    Not unlike a Danish version of ”The West Wing” except with a female prime minister instead of Martin Sheen, ”Borgen” has become a huge hit throughout Europe, recently nabbing a BAFTA award for best international show. The first two seasons are now available on DVD in the U.S., and a small but growing following can’t wait to get its hands on yet-to-be-translated third season episodes. The show chronicles the transformation of Danish PM Birgitte Nyborg from an idealistic young pol to a seasoned political player, and if her transformation isn’t quite Walter White-esque, it nevertheless demonstrates the complexity of political betrayal, the loneliness of leadership, and the price of ambition. Turns out that even in Scandinavian social democracies public life can be pretty rough.

    Source: The American Prospect

  4. The Challenges of Bringing the World Cup to the Amazon

    It turns out that building a $273 million stadium for 40,000 people in the heart of a rain forest is pretty challenging. There’s the challenge of transporting over-sized cranes and hundreds of tons of stainless steel into a region notoriously lacking in roads; the difficulty of finding chairs whose paint won’t melt under equatorial sunlight; and the looming threat of the rainy season, which could literally flood the entire construction site. These are just a few of the challenges facing the construction project in Manaus, Brazil, where builders are racing to complete a stadium intended to host four World Cup games next summer. Yet for all the difficulties, the biggest challenge may still  be on the horizon — no one is quite sure what to do with the stadium when the games are over.

    Source: NYT

  5. NFL Receiver Suffers Pizza-Related Injury

    Veteran Lions receiver Nate Burleson just can’t catch a break, or perhaps he catches too many. Last season he sat out ten games for a broken leg. This time, he’s out for at least a month thanks to a broken arm. Just another freak game-day injury? Nope. Coming off one of the best games of his career on Sunday, in which he caught six passes for 116 yards, Burleson got into a single-car accident after getting distracted by “pizza falling off his front seat.”  The good news for the league: he was sober. But the safe money is on his coach and teammates encouraging him to just get it delivered next time.

    Source: Sports Illustrated