The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. U.S. Defends Arrest that Libya Calls a Kidnapping

    Secretary of State John Kerry defended a secret mission inside the North African nation to capture a high-level al Qaida operative over the weekend. Anas al-Liby has been on the American Most Wanted list for more than a decade, but Liby’s brother called the arrest in Tripoli an act of piracy. Libya’s Prime Minister also suggested the case could be considered “kidnapping,” and not an arrest. While Liby has been linked to the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, the last thing the U.S. needs is controversy inside any Arab spring nation.

    Sources: BBC, Al Jazeera



  2. Deadly Clashes Mar Anniversary Celebrations in Egypt

    At least 51 were killed and 268 injured across Egypt on Sunday after rival celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war turned deadly. In Cairo, violence erupted as supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and former president Mohamed Morsi sought to make their way to Tahrir Square, where the military-backed government’s official festivities were also underway. The Brotherhood supporters claim that their largely peaceful protests turned violent only after the police opened fire on them with live ammunition. Police also used tear gas and birdshot to disrupt similar gatherings in Alexandria and other provinces. 

    Sources: Al Jazeera, The Guardian, WSJ

  3. House Speaker Vows No Deal on Budget or Debt Limit Without Spending Cuts

    Speaker John Boehner took a hard line on the talk shows this Sunday. He insisted that the House did not have the votes to pass a “clean” spending resolution to resolve the shutdown, and demanded cuts to Medicare and Medicaid spending before the debt limit ceiling could be increased ahead of the Oct. 17 deadline. Whether the House has the votes to pass a spending resolution without any conditions attached is hotly contested. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is adamant that not only would it pass, but that as many as 50 to 75 Republicans would vote for it. The ball is in President Obama’s court to start negotiating, says Boehner, and he “knows what my phone number is.”

    Sources: USA Today, NYT, NPR

  4. From Warlords to Technocrats, the Afghans Seeking to Succeed Karzai

    What do a World Bank economist, a Baltimore restaurateur, and a man widely accused of war crimes have in common? They’re all running to succeed Hamid Karzai as president of Afghanistan. The official filing deadline for the country’s 2014 election closed yesterday, and the list of candidates showcases a strange mix of technocrats, warlords, and critics. Despite the fact that U.S. forces look more likely to leave en masse next year, so far the important election is light on platforms and policies. For the moment, the front-runner is Zalmay Rassoul, a former foreign minister, but the real winner is likely to be Karzai himself, who possesses not only the desire to be the next president’s “lifelong adviser,” but also a firm grip on Afghanistan’s electoral machinery.

    Sources: NYT, Washington Post

  5. Wal-Mart Looks to Shift Some Jobs Back Home

    Flags waved, children sang, and a Wal-Mart executive promised to support the “good middle-class jobs… our country needs” at a recent Wal-Mart supplier meeting in Orlando. Wal-Mart is putting a new emphasis on stocking U.S.-made goods on its shelves and will announce today the opening of a factory in Rogers, Ark., that will make toy cars previously imported from China. While the company’s pledge to increase purchases of U.S.-made goods by $50 billion is good news for American jobs, Wal-Mart is no civic hero: shifting production to the U.S. also brings the company financial benefits in terms of reduced inventory costs. Plus, the pressure Wal-Mart exerts on its suppliers to lower costs suggests that the kinds of manufacturing jobs created may not exactly be of the “good middle-class” variety promised.

    Sources: WSJ (sub), Reuters

  6. Libya Wants Answers, Bombers Attack School in Iraq, Nobel Prizes Kick Off

    Libya demands answers regarding U.S. seizure of terror suspect in Tripoli. (Washington Post).

    Suicide bombers kill 33 in Northern Iraq, including at least 13 children on a school playground. (NYT).

    Nobel Prize week kicked off with the medical prize going to three cell biologists in the U.S. (NYT).

    Twitter lights up as Netanyahu mocked for appeal to Iranian youth. (NYT).

    Argentine President to take month off work for brain hematoma. (BBC).


  1. The Not-So-Tiny Ripples from the U.S. Government Shutdown

    When the government closes up shop, so do the shrimp inspectors, who keep the nation’s imported shellfish safe for consumption. Native American reservations expect to lose a significant swath of their operational budgets. A week into the federal budget showdown and government closure, and the impacts are being felt across the country in ways large and small. Some workers whose jobs are considered vital are, apparently, not so vital after all. But skateboarders seem to have discovered the one bright spot: the off-limits planes and angles of Washington’s monuments are now a skater’s paradise free-for-all. 

    Sources: Quartz, WSJ, USAToday

  2. China’s Xi Gladly Assumes Obama’s Asian Itinerary

    After President Obama canceled his planned visit to Southeast Asia as a result of the U.S. government shutdown, Chinese President Xi Jinping has found the stage to himself as he courts rapidly developing nations like Indonesia and Malaysia. Xi is looking to expand Chinese influence in the region and perhaps even overtake America’s position as the top trading partner. Obama’s no-show will make it easier for Xi to sell a rival free-trade agreement to the countries — a prime example of how the shutdown could have a negative effect on American interests abroad as well as at home, and a costly one to boot.

    Sources: USA Today, LA Times

  3. South African Autoworkers Claim Victory After Lengthy Standoff

    After several weeks of striking, unionized South African autoworkers have achieved a 10 percent wage increase for the coming year, with an additional 8 percent hike to follow over the next two years. The labor stoppage crippled the South African auto industry, with Ford, Nissan and General Motors losing close to $2 billion since the workers halted production. The pay deal represents a significant triumph for the autoworkers union, but it may come at the expense of future industry growth in the country as companies like BMW abandon expansion plans and look elsewhere in the wake of the instability created by the strikes.

    Sources: BBC, Mail and Guardian, Bloomberg

  4. Russia to Monitor Communications at Winter Olympics in Sochi

    As Vladimir Putin posed for a photo-op with the Olympic flame, leaked reports indicate that visitors and athletes at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi will be closely monitored by Russian intelligence. By tracking certain words in online or phone communications, Russia’s FSB agency will be able to keep tabs on any type of private conversation that occurs during the Olympics — a move that is being hailed as “Prism on steroids” by critics. What else should we expect from Russia in the coming months? Former C.I.A. deputy director, John McLaughlin, tells OZY that we may be witnessing the start of a “Fifth Era” in Russian politics, a new stage whose outcome is anything but certain as the world’s gaze turns toward Sochi next year.

    Source: Guardian

  5. Star-Studded Space Thriller Earns Both Big Praise and Big Box Office

    A blockbuster in October may seem rarer than a shooting star, but Gravity is shaping up to be that infrequent flick that makes a ton of money and genuinely deserves every penny. The space odyssey earned $55 million its first weekend of wide release in North America, the biggest number ever for an October opening. Critics are overwhelmingly positive about the visually stunning space drama starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts stranded on an ill-fated space walk. “It’s the movie I’ve been hungry to see for an awful long time,” says director James Cameron, and he is not alone. When we look back across the years, Gravity may indeed come to be known as the first feature to transcend gimmicks and realize the artistic potential of 3-D.

    Source: ABC News

  6. All Blacks Roll, Djokovic Downs Nadal, Peyton Manning Unbeatable   

    Having lost only once since winning the 2011 World Cup, New Zealand’s All Blacks continued their reign as world No. 1 with a 37-28 triumph over South Africa in the Rugby Championship in Johannesburg. After slipping to No. 2 after 101 weeks atop the tennis pantheon, Novak Djokovic defeated No. 1 Rafael Nadal to claim the China Open title in Beijing. In the NFL, the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs remained unbeaten at 5-0, as did the Denver Broncos thanks to the continued resurgence of the “Prometheus of Dad-Rock,” 37-year-old quarterback Peyton Manning, who put 414 passing yards and 51 points on the board against Dallas. And the sporting world’s eyes turn to an unusual spot today: Buckingham Palace, where Prince William will host a match on the palace grounds to celebrate the English Football Association’s 150th anniversary.

    Sources: NYT, USA Today, ESPNBBC