The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. White House Meeting Goes Nowhere as Shutdown Starts to Bite

    President Obama lashes out at the GOP as the consequences of the U.S. government shutdown grow increasingly dire. Meanwhile, Boehner indicates that he won’t let the nation default. Furloughs, national park closures, and downed websites may be bad enough, but the shutdown is also hindering intelligence efforts, crippling manufacturing, and halting critical aid programs. The best chance for a resolution might come from some House Republicans deciding to break ranks — a prospect that could grow more likely should the GOP’s candidate in the bellwether Virginia’s gubernatorial race continue to slip in what is shaping up to be the first electoral test of the Republican party’s warring tribes.

    Sources: NYT, Washington Post, Politico

  2. Gambia Abruptly Withdraws from the British Commonwealth

    In a move without precedent, President Yahya Jammeh’s government announced late Tuesday that it was leaving the now-53-nation group, about six weeks before a Nov. 16 summit in Sri Lanka. The move is far from the most shocking for a  leader who has rounded up “witches,” told his critics to “go to hell,” and declared that he has found a cure for AIDS. Or maybe Jammeh is simply insane. Gambia criticized the Commonwealth as “an extension of colonialism,” but critics posit that scrutiny over human rights violations prompted the withdrawal. 

    Sources: Telegraph, ABC

  3. Michael Jackson, Rest in Peace, as Final Court Case Ends

    After five months of arguments portraying superstar Michael Jackson as either an entertainer victimized by a greedy promoter or a pathological liar and drug abuser in a tailspin, a Los Angeles jury acquitted Jackson’s concert promoter, AEG Live, of any liability for his death. The suit, which could have cost AEG more than a billion dollars, was brought by Jackson’s mother and his three young children. They alleged that AEG had been negligent in hiring and supervising Dr. Conrad Murray, who was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for giving Jackson the sedative that led to his death. The verdict ends the grueling legal battles raging since Jackson’s tragic death four years ago.

    Sources: NPR, USA Today

  4. Move Over, Moscow: U.S. to Lead the World’s Oil and Gas Production

    Soon the U.S. will surpass Russia as the world’s leading oil-and-gas producer, pumping out about 22 million barrels per day to Russia’s 21.8 million. The American surge is due to the dramatic expansion of hydraulic fracturing, also called fracking, that accesses oil and natural gas deposits in shale rock formations thought to be inaccessible as recently as a decade ago. Russia has yet to embrace the practice. Continued U.S. production at such high levels isn’t a given, but for the moment the surge is good news for American manufacturers. The benefits reach the nation’s poor too, as lower gas prices mean lower energy bills.

    Sources: WSJ (sub), MarketWatch

  5. Former PM Wades Into Japan’s Nuclear Power Debate

    Japan’s hugely popular former prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, made a dramatic about-face yesterday when he announced at a business meeting that Japan should rid itself of nuclear power and embrace renewable energy. Koizumi has remained largely out of sight since retiring from politics four years ago. But he is known for his ability to read Japan’s public zeitgeist, making his proclamation all the more significant. Though anti-nuclear protests have dwindled, opinion polls show that more than half of Japanese citizens oppose restarting the country’s idle nuclear plants, and some observers speculate that Koizumi is attempting to rein in his protégé, the pro-nuclear Prime Minister Abe, who favors restarting the plants.

    Sources: Asahi Shimbun, NYT

  6. Iran’s Parliament Endorses Rouhani’s Bold Moves, Italy’s Government Survives Confidence Vote

    More than 90 dead, hundreds missing after boat carrying African migrants sinks off the Italian cost. (Reuters)

    Iranian parliament backs Rouhani’s diplomacy. (Al Jazeera).

    Italian government survives no confidence vote. (NYT).

    Mob attacks Russian embassy in Libya. (The Guardian).

    Is the new German Olympic uniform designed to send a pro-gay message in Sochi? (Der Spiegel).

    ”Glee” star’s death ruled accidental due to heroin and alcohol. (CNN).


  1. FBI Shuts Down Notorious Online Black Market ’Silk Road’

    Clandestine buyers seeking heroin or automatic weapons online met with an austere message familiar to fans of the net’s dark side: THIS HIDDEN SITE HAS BEEN SEIZED. The Silk Road’s mastermind, “Dread Pirate Roberts,” appears to be Ross William Ulbricht, a libertarian with advanced degrees who was arrested in San Francisco on charges related to crafting “the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet today.” Agents also confiscated more than $2.6 million in bitcoins, the almost untraceable crypto-currency that Ulbricht allegedly used to hire a hitman. Score one for the G-men, but just like in the off-line war on drugs, surely the next digital dealer is waiting to fill the void.

    Source: USA Today


  2. Africa’s Economic Boom Still Leaves Many Behind

    Many African economies have been growing at rates that rank among the highest in the world in the last decade, but the benefits haven’t trickled down to the continent’s poorest — one-third still live on less than $1.25 a day. The recent 16-country Afrobarometer survey reveals that poverty rose even in economic powerhouses like South Africa. Areas without infrastructure like piped water were notably poorer, and deprived residents struggled to take advantage of development happening elsewhere. The study is a wake-up call that it’s not enough to hope that countrywide economic growth will reach the most vulnerable.

    Sources: GlobalPost, Al Jazeera

  3. Best-selling Author Tom Clancy Dies at 66

    There is hopefully no war in the next life, but one can hope that there is enough espionage and military skullduggery to keep a great storyteller busy. Beginning with ”The Hunt for Red October” in 1985, which then-president and cold warrior Ronald Reagan called “my kind of yarn,” Clancy produced a series of meticulously imagined politico-thrillers novels. Together with the blockbuster film adaptations and hit video game franchises, the books made Clancy one of the world’s richest authors (and the proud owner of a tank and part of the Baltimore Orioles). Fans of his unique military fanboy fiction can say goodbye by reading his last book, ”Command Authority,” due out in December and undoubtedly destined to be his 18th and final best-seller. 

    Source: NYT

  4. A New Campaign Targets Skin Tone Discrimination in India

    After being named Miss America last month, Nina Davuluri, the first Indian-American winner in the pageant’s 87-year history, endured shameful bigotry about her heritage as an Indian-American. Some commentators also noted that her darker skin tone might have also prompted outcry in India, where lighter skin is privileged. Now, a group of activists backed by famous Bollywood actress Nandita Das is working to change those biases, which affect women and men in everything from marriage to jobs. If they succeed, the wildly profitable skin-lightening industry could collapse, but millions of Indians, fair and dark, would find themselves finally judged by the content of their character.

    Source: Al Jazeera

  5. New Book Says the NFL Suppressed Football’s Link to Brain Damage

    For more than two decades, America’s most profitable pro sports league denied and downplayed mounting evidence that linked football to debilitating long-term brain damage. So says ”League of Denial,” a book hitting stores next Tuesday which documents the NFL’s whitewashing efforts and will inevitably compound a public relations disaster for the sport. But if you think transparency will now be the new name of the game, remember that ESPN, who holds lucrative contracts with the NFL, backed out of the documentary that was going to accompany this book — many say to protect its cozy relationship with the NFL.

    Sources: ESPN, Sports Illustrated