The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Government Shutdown Begins

    It’s official. The United States government has shut down for the first time in almost two decades, as a GOP-led House attempts to hold off implementing the Affordable Care Act. There’s a detailed list of potential impacts here. While most of us will not feel an impact in the short term, the ecnomy may suffer and the move does not bode well for the more serious debt ceiling deadline in a couple of weeks. So far, Americans seem to be pointing the finger at House Republicans for the impasse. In a CNN/ORC poll, 69 percent say they are acting like “spoiled children,” while a Washington Post/ABC News poll says just one in four approve of the way the GOP is handling things. 

    Sources: NYTWashington PostPolitico, USA Today, CNNABC News

  2. Iran Charm Offensive is Netanyahu’s High Noon

    The Israeli prime minister, who met with President Obama at the White House today, has staked part of his career on standing firm against fears of Iranian nukes. What happens if that threat changes course? Bibi remains wary of his Iranian cohorts’ overtures and isn’t alone among his Middle Eastern counterparts in wondering what happens to the regional balance of power if the U.S. and Iran make friends. Netanyahu addresses the U.N. tomorrow. He’s apparently changing his speech by the minute and plans to make his views of Iran very clear. 

    Source: GlobalPost, Jerusalem Post, The Guardian

  3. The Next Phase of the Deepwater Horizon Trial Could Have Explosive Implications

    In a case weighted with massive potential legal and business ramifications for the U.S. and beyond, phase two of the trial over the BP Deepwater Horizon blast starts this week. The precedent setting could be historic, as the New Orleans court could levy the largest penalty in U.S. history in an environmental case. Industry insiders say the accident forced them to re-evaluate safety and training but hasn’t slowed the amount of drilling. Meanwhile, a report issued just a few days ago by NOAA says the gulf remains decades away from recovering from the disaster. 

    Sources: LA Times, Financial Times, NOAA

  4. Greece Cracks Down on Far-Right Party

    Police are rounding up leaders of the right-wing Golden Dawn political party, but is the crackdown legal? Five party leaders were arresed Sunday, accused of leading a criminal gang. A member of parliament, Christos Pappas, turned himself in to police in Athens. Pappas is thought to be second-in-command for the anti-immigrant, anti-austerity party. The Greek government has clamped down on Golden Dawn since tensions rose after the Sept. 17 murder of an activist rapper who spit bars against the ultra-right party, which holds 18 seats in parliament and whose popularity has soared as Greece’s fortunes have plummeted. Golden Dawn’s swastika-like logo and paramilitary tactics have garnered comparisons to the Nazis, but the crackdown against elected representatives leaves Greece’s democracy in murky constitutional waters. Many fear that such extremism will continue to gain traction until the austerity measures ease. 

    Sources: BBC, NYT

  5. Militants Open Fire on Sleeping College Students in Nigeria

    Members of the Islamist group Boko Haram, whose name translates as “Western education is forbidden” and who oppose schooling not based on the Koran, crept into the rural Yobe State College of Agriculture on early Sunday morning and opened fire, attacking classrooms and killing some students while they slept. In all, some 40 students died. Classes had just resumed after twin attacks on secondary schools in the same state took more than 30 lives. Since 2010, Boko Haram has killed more than 1,700 victims and chased more than 30,000 from their homes in a militant quest to establish an Islamic state. The coming weeks will see the government of Africa’s most populous nation try to reassert control over an area that again finds itself in a state of emergency.

    Sources: All Africa, Reuters

  6. Berlusconi Ministers Resign, Spark Crisis in Italy

    Billionaire politician and media magnate Silvio Berlusconi has been charged with some pretty ill-advised moves — bribes, drug trafficking, embezzlement, underage prostitutes, strippers wearing Obama masks — but his latest decision to pull his party from a coalition government might have the broadest consequences of all. Five ministers from the newly re-branded Forza Italia party announced their resignation in a move that imperils Italy’s government and threatens to send voters back to the polls at a time when Europe’s third largest economy stands in desperate need of some stability. It remains to be seen whether they will break ranks before they can break up the coalition government during a confidence vote that is expected to take place on Wednesday.

    Sources: The Guardian, WSJ (sub)


  1. Criminal Trial Forces Romania to Finally Face the Ceausescu Years

    A former prison commander stands trial for genocide in the first case of its kind since the dictator’s execution in 1989. Media coverage of the case against Alexandru Visinescu, now a frail pensioner who spends his idle time on leisurely strolls, has slowly cracked the silence (and corruption accusations) that has enveloped the nation’s brutal past. Visinescu might be the first but is not necessarily the only — a national institute recommended genocide charges be brought against another former commander just last week. 

    Source: NYT, USA Today

  2. We Looked on His Works and Despaired

    Vince Gilligan’s epic tale of one man’s descent from mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher to ruthless, Machiavellian meth kingpin came to a close Sunday night. Critics have called it transformative TV, and fans who may have been slow to get hooked popularized binge watching by catching up en masse on Netflix. The show’s been frightening, frustrating, often hilarious and always so, so smart. We felt triumph and despair in equal measures watching the series finale. Now you can enjoy a spoiler-free look at seasons pastrecap of the final episode, or even bid on some of your favorite props.

    Source: NYT (contains spoilers)

  3. Designer Rick Owens Takes Paris in Unorthodox Fashion

    In an industry where an androgynous man is more likely to be hired as a womenswear model than women with curves, Rick Owens has done the unfathomable: cast models larger than a size 2 in his edgy Paris fashion week show. The glam/grunge-influenced auteur selected a diverse group of step dancers to underscore just how bold and wearable his new styles are via a show-stopping choreographed routine. Owens’ show sent a shot across the bow of an industry where 90 percent of the runway models last season were white, and only trending whiter. Here’s hoping that Owens’ captivating show is the start of a new fashion trend: realism.

    Source: The Guardian

  4. Saudi Cleric Links Women’s Driving to Health Issues

    Will Ferrell’s Anchorman 2 may not be due out in theaters until December, but the ovary-harming jibes have already begun, at least in Saudi Arabia. That’s because as the movement to give women the right to drive gains momentum in the country, conservative opponents have had to tap into their imaginations to find counterarguments. One particularly creative critic and pseudo-medical theorist, Sheikh Saleh al-Lohaidan, has claimed that driving could result in damage to women’s ovaries and subsequent medical problems for newborns. Although there is a long way to go yet before they can get behind the wheel, Saudi women should be encouraged by the strength of their opponents’ arguments. You stay classy, Saudi clerics.

    Source: BBC

  5. Why Some Chinese Academics are Breaking Bad

    Taking advantage of a system that rewards the quantity of academic publications, the Chinese criminal underworld has expanded its business to the publication of fake scholarly articles. Selling segments of counterfeit journals or forged articles to academics, fraudsters have tapped into a lucrative industry making a fortune from those seeking to break into the ivory tower or bolster their credentials. Legitimate academics have denounced the practice, but a widespread culture of plagiarism means this racket isn’t going away soon, particularly as pressure mounts on China to ascend the league tables of global higher education.

    Source: The Economist

  6. Wilson Kipsang Breaks Men’s World Record in Berlin

    While you may have been watching the 146-minute-long Hugh Jackman thriller Prisoners in your local theater this weekend, Kenyan runner Wilson Kipsang was taking no prisoners on route to a record-setting 123-minute, 23-second time at the 40th Berlin Marathon. The Olympic bronze medalist took advantage of the dry and sunny weather to beat the previous record, set at the same course by his compatriot Patrick Makau in 2011, by 15 seconds. But with a talented field of runners like Makau taking aim at the mark in upcoming races, Kipsang’s record may itself be surpassed by the time Prisoners makes it to DVD.

    Source: ESPN