The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. House Approves Bill, Sixteen Days of Shutdown Come to an End

    Hours before U.S. borrowing authority was set to expire, the House of Representatives approved a bipartisan deal brokered by the Senate late Wednesday morning. Top Republicans admit this deal marks a loss for them. The president has pledged to sign the bill to reopen the government, see it funded until Jan. 15, and raise the debt limit until Feb. 7. CNN reports that the legislation includes some extra verification steps for those seeking government money under Obamacare. While this solves the immediate crisis, it doesn’t end longer-term budget negotiations. 

    Sources: CNN, NYT, Washington Post

    U.S. Congress Passes Debt Deal

  2. Putin’s Main Opposition Challenger Spared Jail Time, But Not Charges

    An appeals court has suspended the five-year jail sentence of anti-corruption activist Aleksei A. Navalny, who was convicted of embezzlement. But he can’t travel outside of Moscow or run for office until 2018. Navalny placed second in the city’s mayoral contest despite lacking access to major TV outlets. He claims the charges are false, and some Russia watchers wonder if his release is partly to give the winning mayor some credence. Navalny has sworn to pursue dropping all charges — and to continue battling the status quo. 

    Sources: Washington Post, NYT

  3. Qaeda Terror Suspect Pleads Not Guilty to Embassy Bombings

    The New York court appearance Tuesday of a wanted terrorist seemed almost boring, considering that his arrest on the streets of Tripoli touched off international accusations over the legality of the raid by U.S. forces in Libya. Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, known also as Abu Anas al-Libi, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges for his role in Al Qaeda’s bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998. He has been a fugitive since he was indicted in 2000. After spending a week in military custody at sea in which he refused to eat or drink, al-Ruqai’s health plummeted rapidly. It’s unclear whether al-Ruqai was staging a deliberate hunger strike, or if his failure to eat was a result of hepatitis C. Either way, his deteriorating health forced authorities to bring him on land. It’s worth noting that he landed in the criminal court system, and not Guantanamo.

    Source: NYT, Telegraph UK

  4. BMW Gift Throws Wrench into German Coalition Discussions

    A $900,000 political donation from BMW looks more like a white elephant than a luxury car for German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Just days before EU climate policy deliberations, the Quandt family, which owns 47 percent of BMW, made the donation to Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union. Days later, Germany pressured the EU into scrapping a proposed emissions cap, due to its burden on premium automakers. Opposition party members accused Merkel of being bought, and yesterday the Green Party dropped out of coalition talks with the CDU, leaving the chancellor holding the keys to a country that is still without a government nearly a month after elections.

    Sources: Reuters, Der Spiegel, WSJ

  5. N.J. Special Election Could Herald More Than a New Senator

    The Garden State’s special election for the unexpired term of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg appears to be Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s to lose — and he just might. The darling of Twitter, cable news and the Democratic Party, Booker has seen his lead over GOP tea party opponent Steve Lonegan dwindle from 35 points to as little as 10 in some recent polls. While some are calling the race a national referendum on D.C.’s dysfunction, it will mostly be a test of Booker’s future as the rising star of his party — will this be the start of an Obamaesque rise or a major flame out? If he does win, Booker will be expected to do a lot more as senator than rescue elderly nuns and snowed-in citizens.

    Sources: USA Today, WSJ


  1. Calls for Internet Overhauls Due to NSA Spying Could Undermine Freedoms

    With each NSA security bombshell, the international community weighs their own online information-gathering options. The latest round of stories detail NSA programs that gather 500,000 contact lists and map users’ online social lives “on the fly.” Big providers like Facebook and Google have denied knowledge and involvement in the contact sweeps. Brazil is leading the charge on worldwide proposals to redesign the Web infrastructure, but experts say that might end up undermining online freedom, including free speech, even more. 

    Sources: Washington Post, New Yorker, NPR

  2. Tech Giant Poaches Burberry CEO With Retail Chops

    Will the iPhone be the main attraction on future Paris Fashion Week catwalks? Now that Apple has hired Angela Ahrendts, CEO of British luxury retailer Burberry, it’s not so far-fetched. Ahrendts, who ushered in significant gains for Burberry shareholders, marks the second fashion hire for the tech company in recent months, following the addition of former Yves Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve over the summer. Ahrendts’s fashion world acumen, combined with her retail credentials, has been linked by business insiders to the launch of Apple’s next big thing: an Internet-connected wristwatch.

    Sources: NYT, WSJ

  3. Graduate Student’s Walt Whitman Protest Earns an F

    “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself,” Walt Whitman wrote. One contradiction was that the democracy-loving, egalitarian poet also believed that African-Americans were subhuman. When Timothy McNair, a master’s candidate in Northwestern University’s voice program, refused to sing an arrangement of Whitman’s “Song of Democracy,” he was given an ultimatum: sing, or fail the class. He refused, and failed. “Whitman was a self-documented racist who is known for having called freed blacks ‘baboons’,” McNair argues. But he appealed his grade, and now has agreed to sing, provided there is an honest discussion of Whitman.  

    Source: Chicago Reader

  4. Eleanor Catton Becomes Youngest Booker Prize Winner

    A 28-year-old New Zealander, Eleanor Catton, was awarded the Man Booker Prize last night for ”The Luminaries.” Catton’s second novel is a murder mystery ghost story set in the 19th century gold rush in New Zealand. At 832 pages, it also sets the record for the longest novel ever to win the prestigious prize. On a night of firsts, Catton also became a ”last” — namely, the last author to win the prize before the competition opens up to all English-language novels published in Britain. Translation: the Americans are coming.

    Sources: NYT, The Guardian

  5. Red Sox Edge Detroit to Take Lead in Baseball’s ALCS

    The lights were out yesterday in Detroit (literally — there was a power outage) and so were the pitchers. Boston’s one run was enough for them to win the game and take a 2 to 1 lead in the American League Championship Series. Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli played the hero, touching Tigers ace Justin Verlander for a homerun that marked the first run that the Cy Young winner had allowed in an incredible 34 innings. The Boston bullpen preserved John Lackey’s fine start to ensure the win. Pitching continues to be the name of the game in the ALCS: only one run has decided all three games.

    Sources: ESPN, Bleacher Report

  6. Chinese Mistresses Playing Key Role in Anti-Corruption Crackdown

    President Xi Jinping’s massive anti-corruption campaign in China is getting some unexpected, and perhaps unwanted, help from some of the spurned former mistresses of Communist Party officials. For example, Liu Tienan, a top economic policy official, lost his job in May after a former mistress exposed his embezzlement of $200 million. With Xi’s official war on corruption netting few big fish other than Bo Xilai thus far, many China-watchers claim that mistresses are quickly becoming the country’s most effective means for rooting out high-level graft. Time will tell whether Zhou Yongkang, the former security chief known as “China’s Dick Cheney” and a key litmus test for the anti-corruption efforts, will be brought down by the party or by a paramour.

    Sources: CNN, FT