The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Slow-Moving Negotiations Bring Some Hope to U.S. Budget Debacle

    The U.S. debt limit expires, and defaults loom, this week. A plan to extend the limit to November 22 has gained traction, but that would only solve the immediate problem. It doesn’t reopen the government. The press has had a field day showing the impacts, big and small, like federal prisoners who still get paid while corrections officers miss paychecks. Polls show voter satisfaction hitting a new low, but numbers guru Nate Silver says it’s too soon to know what impact the current Hill drama will have on future elections. That may depend on who and how the stalemate ends.

    Sources: NYPost, Grantland, Gallup, Politico


  2. Tehran and the West Talk Nukes in Geneva

    The big news expected to come out of this week’s P5+1 meeting of world powers in Switzerland is Iranian disarmament talks. Tehran is expected to offer to stop producing uranium enriched to near-weapons-grade purity and open nuclear facilities to inspection, in return for an end to certain western sanctions. Meanwhile Israel’s Netanyahu plans to make his case to the European press that Iran’s offer isn’t enough. He’s not the only one wondering if this is just an Iranian ploy to buy time, despite reassurances from the Middle East nation’s supporters. 

    Source: Jerusalem Post, Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, Al Jazeera

  3. Adrian Peterson’s Young Son Dies After Alleged Assault

    Tragedy has struck Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson: his two-year-old son died on Friday night in Sioux Falls, S.D., of injuries suffered after alleged abuse. The child’s mother’s boyfriend has been charged in the case. Peterson talked to the press and took to Twitter, expressing gratitude for his “fraternity of brothers” in the NFL. The sports world has rallied around Peterson, including an outpouring of support online from Terrell Owens, Kevin Durant and LeBron James. No stranger to personal tragedy, the 2012 league MVP vowed to keep playing, crediting his sport for getting him through difficult times: “Football is something I will always fall back on.”

    Sources: ESPN, BBC, YahooUSA Today

  4. Indian Pharmaceuticals Exporting Substandard Medicines

    Over 100 million people around the world take Indian drugs each week and, according to researcher Roger Bate, more than 5 percent of the drugs being taken do not meet basic safety requirements. Based on his extensive testing of the $20-billion Indian pharmaceutical industry, Bate believes that the companies are deliberately skimping on product quality to boost profits. The issue impacts the treatment of countless conditions, including HIV, malaria and tuberculosis, with companies targeting poorer nations in Africa with the lowest quality products, trusting that their limited testing capacity will obscure the facts. Thanks to the cut corners, the drugs appear to be doing the least for those who need them most.

    Source: Foreign Policy

  5. Cyclone Slams India, Malala Meets Obamas, Tourist Sites to Reopen

    Powerful Cyclone Phailin hits India. (BBC, Hindustan Times).

    Malala Yousafzai meets the Obamas at the White House. (Huffington Post).

    Landmark tourist sites Statue of Liberty, Grand Canyon to reopen. (LA Times).

    Recent migrant deaths fuel Italian, Maltese Calls for EU action. (Reuters).

    Google plans to have users star in their ads – but without permission. (WSJ).

  6. Don’t Mourn the Book Business Yet

    Books are dead, long live the books. Physical printing may be giving way to online publishing, but overall the book business has increased by about $2 billion (that’s with a “b”) from 2008 to 2012. Not everyone embraces the Amazoning of the industry. Highbrow agent extraordinaire Andrew Wylie sees a profitable future for authors, agents and publishers who eschew the policies of the online behemoth. But some swing both ways, like Anna Holmes, the pioneering founder of the Jezebel feminist Web site whose new Book of Jezebel launches in stores — and online – October 22. 

    Sources: The New Republic, Mother Jones 

  7. A Groundbreaking Interactive Documentary Examines Life Among the Clouds

    The history of skyscrapers melds into a call to future urban planning action in this package that combines film, photography and interactive exploration. Technical advancements allowed architects to push buildings ever upward. Wealthy New Yorkers may have paved the way for high-rise luxury, which in some some cities is pushing slums, and also affordability, far afield. But other nations are building to the skies to provide families an affordable way to live in urban areas without harkening back to the days of tiny tenements. Whether the wealthy or the hoi polloi win out remains to be seen.

    Source: NYT


  1. Bam Bam Meulens Rescales Baseball’s Summit

    He is a polyglot from a tiny island off the coast of Venezuela, was knighted by the Dutch royal family and speaks five languages. Most importantly, Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens (named after the club-wielding Flintstones character) may be the next great manager in Major League Baseball. As a teenager he was billed as the next Yankee phenom, yet Bam Bam’s playing career amounted to only a smattering of disappointing games over seven big league seasons. But Meulens persevered, and after stints in Japan, South Korea and Mexico, the former slugger has earned two World Series rings as the hitting coach for the San Francisco Giants and helped turn his home of Curacao into one of baseball’s talent hotbeds. So what’s next for Bam Bam? No less than a trip into space in 2015 as an astronaut on the maiden voyage of the commercial Space Expedition Curacao.

    Source: SB Nation

  2. Can Good Design Make You Fall in Love with a Smoke Detector? 

    Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers helped turn iPhones into fashion statements, and now they’re trying to boost the profile of the lowly (and often annoying) smoke alarm. ”Nest Protect” talks, illuminates dark corridors and can be silenced from false alarms by a wave of the hand. The alarm syncs with Nest’s previous attempt at making utilities sexy, the thermostat. For example, a high carbon monoxide reading triggers the alarm to shut off the heat, should you have both Nest products. The $130 alarm price point dwarfs the more typical $30 model, so success isn’t a slam dunk. Fadell and Rogers may have achieved their goal of making mundane devices sing, but people developing interpersonal relationships with their smoke alarms is exactly the sort of thing Jonathan Franzen has warned us about.

    Sources: USA Today, The New Yorker 


  3. Scientists Investigate Why Manta Rays Have Lost That Lovin’ Feeling

    Something is wrong with the manta rays in the Maldives. They’re just not interested in sex anymore — or at least procreating. Under protection in the Maldives, they’d been faring well. But in 2009 “reproduction just stopped.” Researchers are trying to determine if the low libido is related to natural mating cycles or something “more sinister” like human impact and climate change. Mantas rely on winds to stir up the seas with nutrients needed to serve up their supper: plankton. With the area experiencing weaker winds in recent years, there is less food available. Could a food scarcity be what’s causing the scarcity of manta mating?

    Source: The Guardian

  4. The 1% are Killing the Cool of New York City: David Byrne

    David Byrne loves New York City; he’s loved it since the mid-’70s, when he moved there with bandmates from the newly formed Talking Heads to become immersed in the city’s “cultural ferment,” a place of “possibility of interaction and inspiration” among the city’s multi-ethnic makeup. But the NYC of today troubles Byrne. In this personal essay — part love letter and part portent — the musician bemoans the potential loss of the city’s artistic genius, forced out of town by skyrocketing real-estate prices and the city’s increased focus on wealth over culture. And if the 1 percent sucks NYC’s creative talent pool dry, Byrne says, “I’m out of here.”

    Source: Creative Time Reports

  5. How Confucius is Teaching Harvard Students to Change Lives

    The first homework in one of the most popular classes at Harvard is to smile at a stranger. Only after that can the young Ivy Leaguers in Professor Michael Pruett’s Classical Chinese Ethical and Political Theory learn how to be titans of industry. Pruett uses texts from figures like Confucius and Mencius to show how nonrational thought can lead to greater happiness and success. “The Chinese philosophers we read taught that the way to really change lives for the better is from a very mundane level, changing the way people experience and respond to the world,” he says. Sounds like sage advice, but should it really take getting into Harvard to pick it up?

    Source: The Atlantic

  6. The Reason Why Flight Attendants Are So Friendly

    The job of flight attendant may sound glamorous, jetting from continent to continent, but when you think about the day-to-day grind, it takes a certain kind of person to take it on. The role requires that you interact within groups of total strangers, including thousands of demanding passengers. But most co-workers are strangers too. Because of scheduling, flight attendants rarely work with the same crew twice. Each day, tens of thousands of attendants in the U.S. step foot on a plane, needing to quickly form bonds of trust, you know, in case they need to work together in the event of an emergency. Imagine working in a job where being friendly and outgoing might just save your life.

    Source: Pacific Standard