The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Brazil Struggles to Tame the Slums Just Months Before the World Cup

    A teacher protest over pay raises turned violent in Rio de Janeiro Monday. Anarchists descended at night, smashing ATMs and pulling furniture from banks to create a barricade against police. It’s the latest blow to Brazilian attempts to quell the violence before the 2014 soccer tourney and the 2016 Olympic Games. Many say the police are just as bad as the gang leaders, and question whether Rio will ever be ready to safely host the international event?

    Sources: Die Welt, Der Spiegel

  2. From Ministers to Truckers, the World Reacts to D.C.’s Dysfunction

    Stock prices have fallen across Europe and Asia as the chatter about the U.S. defaulting on its debts grows louder. Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, chided the U.S. government for the self-inflicted “game of chicken,” while the Chinese finance minister, Zhu Guangyao, publicly called on the U.S. to protect Chinese investments by resolving its internal disputes. In Washington, a resolution remains elusive, with one Republican congressman explaining, “look, we’re not French. We don’t surrender.” One group that is making progress in D.C. is “Truckers for the Constitution,” which is planning to clog the inner loop of the city’s beltway starting Friday to demand Obama’s impeachment and the arrest of members of congress for shirking their constitutional duties. If effective, the truckers may get their message across but will likely only add further to the gridlock in D.C.

    Sources: NYT, CNN, US News

  3. Game-Changing Vaccine Could be Ready by 2015

    Roughly 660,000 people die each year from malaria, many of them young children. A recent clinical trial by GlaxoSmithKline indicates that if their vaccine is rolled out in the countries hit hardest, up to half of these lives could be saved. GSK intends to distribute the vaccine in a low-cost, non-profit manner, aside from a five percent price increase built in for future research, hopefully starting in 2015. The vaccine was developed with partial funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is chalking up an impressive list of global health victories that also includes improved TB tests and strides toward polio eradication. The couple recently sat down for a joint question and answer session about their work and relationship.

    Sources: The Guardian, NBC News, NYTimes

  4. With Corruption Charges Dropped, Sarkozy Eyes Return to Politics

    Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has managed to cut loose from a trial concerning the embezzlement of Liliane Bettencourt’s fortune. Sarkozy had forged a close friendship with the fragile heiress to the L’Oréal fortune in recent years and had been accused of pressuring the 90-year-old matriarch, who was diagnosed with dementia in 2006, to pledge money to his 2007 election campaign. Sarkozy’s survival buoys his chances of a political comeback in the 2017 presidential election against incumbent, François Hollande, who polls indicate Sarkozy would defeat if an election were held today.

    Sources: The Guardian, NPR

  5. Nobel Prize In Medicine Awarded for Identifying Cell-Level FedEx

    Cells contain complex systems for shipping microscopic cargo, but mutated genes may cause traffic jams. James Rothman of Yale University, Randy Schekman of the University of California, Berkeley, and Thomas Südhof of Stanford University received the Nobel Prize in Medicine yesterday for this discovery, explaining how cells move molecules in a cargo system that docks at the right place at the right time. The scientists found vesicles carrying molecules around everything from yeast cells to human cells. But when disease slows the flow of traffic, the cell is thrown into chaos. It seems that organelles get road rage too.

    Sources: NYT, Science Daily

  6. Karzai Rebukes NATO, Japan Airlines Spurns Boeing, $100 Bill Gets a Facelift

    Peter Higgs and François Englert, who posited the existence of the God particle, claim the Nobel Prize for Physics. (NYT)

    Hamid Karzai denounces NATO operations in Afghanistan. (BBC).

    Experts warn of “Gulag Olympics” as Russia takes steps to limit civilian activity prior to Sochi games. (GlobalPost).

    New U.S. $100 bill goes into circulation with new security features. (USA Today).

    Japan Airlines makes Airbus order despite long-running relationship with Boeing. (CNN).

    Damien Hirst debuts new anatomical sculptures in Qatar. (NYT).


  1. So You Captured a Terrorist — Now What? 

    That’s the question Foreign Policy asks in the wake of the capture of Abu Anas al-Libi, the man on the FBI’s Most Wanted list who was taken from his Tripoli home over the weekend. SEALs took Libi aboard the USS San Antonio. One official suggests a Somali warlord seized in 2011 might hold a clue — he was held and questions for two months at sea before eventually pleading guilty and cooperating with the U.S. 

    Source: Foreign Policy

  2. Favorite for Nobel Peace Prize Remains a Taliban Target

    It’s been only a year since Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban on her way home from school and became an international icon. Her new memoir “I Am Malala” is being launched to coincide with the anniversary, and as OZY explains, the smart money is on the 16 year-old to win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, to be announced on Friday. Apart from doing well in school, Malala’s primary goal is to return to Pakistan and enter political life, forming her own party if necessary. Despite her impeccable composure and abundant commitment, Malala’s story is a tragedy of lost youth. The Yousafzai family have been forced into exile by Taliban threats, and just yesterday, a representative of the Pakistani Taliban confirmed that they would kill Malala if given the chance.

    Sources: The Guardian, Al Jazeera

  3. Controversial Billionaire Provides $10 Million to Prop Up U.S. Preschool Program

    Something has gone horribly awry when one of the government’s most effective educational programs for low-income kids has to be propped up by a private foundation started by a former Enron trader, but that’s precisely how Head Start has avoided shutting its doors. The Houston-based John and Laura Arnold Foundation, founded by a hedge fund billionaire and former Enron executive, pledged $10 million to ensure cash-strapped Head Start preschool programs across the U.S. can keep running. Arnold’s generosity, and the accompanying good press, come at a good time for the billionaire, who — after years of trying to outrun Enron’s dark shadow — has come under fire lately for attempting to ”loot” public worker pension plans in California and Rhode Island.

    Sources: The Atlantic, Washington Post

  4. California Lab Makes Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough

    For the first time, an experiment at the Nuclear Ignition Facility in California has succeeded in creating a fusion reaction that produced more energy than was used by the fuel necessary to enable the reaction. This is an important milestone toward achieving nuclear fusion, which could one day provide a source for unlimited clean energy. Fusion, which generates energy by smashing atoms together, is different from current nuclear fission, which produces energy by splitting atoms. If future experiments are successful, an era of abundant, free nuclear power may no longer remain merely a subject for science fiction.

    Source: BBC

  5. Justice Scalia Weighs in on Satan, Seinfeld and Sin

    Many anticipate major cases on abortion and campaign finance to dominate the new U.S. Supreme Court term, but Antonin Scalia, the Court’s most colorful and outspoken justice, covered different ground in a recent New York Magazine interview. From the serious (modern society is too profane, the Devil is quite real) to the lighthearted (he quotes the Soup Nazi from his favorite television show, Seinfeld), Scalia shows why he is simultaneously idolized and despised by court-watchers around the world. And though the proponent of “originalist” jurisprudence claims he doesn’t care about being regarded as “on the losing side of everything, an old fogey,” Scalia does make sure you know one thing about him: he is absolutely, positively, never wrong.

    Source: New York Magazine

  6. Imposters Call Top Coaches About USC Coaching Job

    The once imposing college football program at the University of Southern California has been relegated to dealing with plain old posing. USC officials confirmed yesterday that the school had not reached out to Denver Broncos assistant coach Jack Del Rio or former Super Bowl champion coach Tony Dungy about the head coaching position for USC’s storied football team. Rather, two individuals falsely claiming to be high-ranking USC reps solicited both men’s interest in the position, which is open after the team fired Lane Kiffin on September 29. And to add insult to injury, Dungy roundly rejected the fraudulent feeler on national radio.

    Sources: USA Today, Bleacher Report