The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Republicans Could Vote to Increase the Debt Limit as Early as Today

    Hours before a planned meeting with President Obama at the White House, the GOP floated a proposal to up the debt limit, pushing next week’s impending financial deadline back to Nov. 22. The nation would remain without a budget, and no shuttered federal institutions would reopen, but the U.S. would avoid defaulting. A vote could come as early as today. Obama was expected to offer a short-term deal to raise the debt ceiling anyway, so perhaps there’s hope. But outrage remains over Americans reeling from the shutdown’s impact, such as the government’s inability to pay death benefits to the families of troops killed in the line of duty — like Head Start, they’re now being paid via a private foundation.

    Sources: Washington Post, NYT

  2. U.S. Partially Suspends Aid to Egypt Amid Violence

    No more jets for you. The U.S. will suspend delivery of aircraft, plus tanks, missiles, and about $260 million in aid to Egypt’s military, “pending credible progress toward an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government through free and fair elections.” In other words, play nice. The modest move, which will not include pulling support for counterterrorism efforts, reflects President Obama’s attempt to express U.S. displeasure with the ousting of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi last July while trying not to upset relations with Egypt or other key Middle Eastern allies. A trial date of Nov. 4 has finally been set for the imprisoned Morsi, who is being charged with inciting his supporters to kill at least 10 protesters last December.

    Sources: NYT, The Guardian, Al Jazeera

  3. European Migration Debate Rages As New Border System Approved

    The EU Commission approved a $332 million surveillance system to gather intel on the movements of illegal migrants, and to help when necessary. The approval comes in the wake of the deaths of almost 300 people when a boat carrying about 500 asylum seekers when down en-route from North Africa to Italy. A state funeral is being planned, even as the survivors remain under investigation. But immigration pressures aren’t only an Italian issue. Der Spiegel looks at the challenges facing some of the overwhelmed European nations. 

    Source: Deutsche Welle, Der Spiegel, The Guardian

  4. Canadian Alice Munro Takes the Literary Prize

    Alice Munro needed two decades to compile her first book of stories, penned in stolen hours around housework and social calls as she raised two children. But her perseverance paid off, as she became the first Canadian to snag the vaunted international award for writing on Thursday. She beat out American Philip Roth and Japanese author Haruki Murakami, whom bookmakers had given the best odds. But with reports that Munro might soon put down her pen for good, will the award mark a new era, or the end of one? 

    Source: The Guardian, NYT

  5. Haitian Cholera Victims Sue U.N. for Post-Quake Outbreak

    Cholera hadn’t stalked the Caribbean island for more than a hundred years — until the 2010 earthquake. Nearly 700,000 Haitians have sickened and more than 8,000 have died from cholera since then. But the onslaught wasn’t native. Studies traced the outbreak to a U.N. camp that dumped waste into nearby waters, but because of diplomatic immunity provisions in the U.N.’s charter, the agency has rebuffed attempts from Haitians seeking compensation. Now five families have filed suit against the U.N. in U.S. federal court, a bold gambit led by human rights lawyer Mario Joseph, who, as OZY’s Pooja Bhatia details, has taken on big-name defendants before, including Haiti’s former dictator “Baby Doc” Duvalier.

    Source: NPR

  6. U.S. and China Wrestle for Influence at ASEAN Summit

    Let the diplomatic wooing begin. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit kicked off yesterday with diplomatic come-ons from both Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is standing in for the shutdown-trapped President Obama. Both nations sought to curry favor with the 10-member association that represents more than half a billion people and some of the world’s busiest trading routes. Li talked up Chinese investment and development initiatives, while Kerry urged member nations to maintain a united front against alleged Chinese “bullying” in the resource-rich South China Sea. But the summit’s real winner could be India, which is poised to sign a massive free trade agreement with ASEAN that should push the exchange of goods between the two parties to $100 billion-plus a year.

    Sources: Bangkok Post, Voice of America, Times of India

  7. Libyan PM Abducted, Madagascar Confronts the Plague, California Expands Abortion Access

    Libya’s prime minister was kidnapped, then released, by armed rebels. (CNN).

    Madagascar faces a bubonic plague epidemic. (BBC).

    New study claims that by 2047, the coldest years may be warmer than the hottest ones in years past. (NYT).

    Business gets more expensive, but more profitable, in China as labor costs rise. (WSJ).

    California expands access to abortion. (NYT). 


  1. Mistresses Blow the Whistle on Wealthy Chinese

    Money and power can fund some serious hanky-panky, but beware the lover scorned. In China, the business of keeping a lovely lady on the side is so popular among the high-flying set that it appears to be boosting national economic indicators, especially real estate. But what happens when the relationship sours? In the most recent case, microblog posts from one scorned woman detail lavishness well out of the reach of a government official on state salary, unless, perhaps, he’s on the take. An investigation has been launched. 

    Sources: BBC, Quartz

  2. Azerbaijan Releases Presidential Election Results… Before the Polls Open

    Vote rigging and electoral abuses are a family tradition for Azerbaijan’s incumbent president, Ilham Aliyev, who inherited the presidency from his father in 2003. And though few assumed that this round of elections would be free or fair, most observers figured that there’d be some attempt to play the game. They were wrong. Because of a technical glitch in a smartphone app, Azerbaijan’s election authorities accidentally released the “results” to yesterday’s presidential election more than a day before the polls opened. Unsurprisingly, Aliyev won the pre-election tally with 72 percent of the vote, a figure that he improved to 85 percent in the actual election. Apparently, vote rigging, like election forecasting (Nate Silver aside), is still more of an art than a science.

    Sources: Washington Post, BBC

  3. Entrepreneurs Give Thanks for Changes to U.S. Angel Investing Laws

    Until recently, U.S. fundraising restrictions on new businesses forbade what was categorized as “general solicitation,” which prevented early stage companies from publicly marketing themselves to potential investors. The recent easing of those restrictions has led to a boom of such solicitation on social networks like Twitter, or specialized services like AngelList. Now those entrepreneurs whose ideas may not have garnered traditional venture capital can quickly engage a group of early stage investors online. But skeptics worry that the new rules could shift the risk too far in the other direction, creating over-investment in bad ideas and allowing inexperienced angels to get fleeced by sweet-talking start-ups.

    Source: WSJ

  4. ‘Flipped’ Classrooms Show Strong Early Results

    If you’ve ever watched a TED talk, you know one of the first tenets of a flipped classroom: it’s easy to watch a video with interesting content. But chances are that if you were grilled on the finer points of the video, you might struggle without some assistance. Flipped classrooms take this principle and run with it, having students watch lectures at home and do “homework” in class with teacher assistance. Clintondale, a Detroit-area school that was the first to entirely flip its classes, has seen promising results in both student performance and retention — some encouraging news for other schools contemplating the move to help their teachers double down on working with students, and avoid having to give the same boring lecture on quadratic equations every year.

    Source: NYT

  5. World’s Oldest Cinema Reopens its Doors

    In 1899, the Eden theatre in La Ciotat, France, played host to one of the world’s first moving pictures. The spectacle allegedly had audience members fleeing their seats in terror, believing that the on-screen train was about to crash into the theatre (what would “Avatar” do to them?). The historic theater, which claimed to be the oldest in the world, showed films for more than 100 years until it shuttered in 1995 and was left to decay — until now. The newly renovated Eden opened yesterday with a screening of several black-and-white silent film classics. The reopening followed a lengthy public campaign and the allocation of $8.1 million in funds after nearby Marseille was named European Capital of Culture earlier this year.

    Sources: The Guardian, Al Jazeera

  6. A Question of Nationality on the Pitch Splits Sports Fans

    The poet Ogden Nash once quipped that every Englishman believes “to be an Englishman is to belong to the most exclusive club there is.” English soccer fans are embroiled in a debate over just how exclusive they want their club to be right now. According to FIFA regulations, Belgian-born teen hotshot Adnan Januzaj will be eligible to play for England in 2018 after five years of residency. English midfielder Jack Wilshire and many other fans and players resent that possibility, arguing that only “English people” should represent England. But for a nation whose team has not won the World Cup since 1966 or gone further than the quarterfinals since 1990, it may be that talent ultimately trumps birth when it comes to defending national pride on the pitch.

    Sources: BBC, The Guardian