Congress exemplified the phrase “down to the wire” by waiting until just hours before the U.S. was expected to reach its debt limit to pass legislation that avoided a default. The president signed it just after midnight Thursday. The overwhelming political takeaway: The Republicans lost, especially the party’s conservative wing. But the drama is far from over, as the hard questions over the nation’s budget remain. Can the committee tasked with fixing this work out their disagreements? Or will the country face another mid-December deadlock?
The Presidential Daily Brief
The secretary of state embarks on a European tour next week, and he’s expected to spend a fair amount of time on the Middle East. He is scheduled to meet with his Saudi counterpart, as well as Israel’s Netanyahu and representatives of the 11 nations that support removing Syria’s Assad. No word on whether he’ll swing by the christening of tiny Prince George, which is slated for Wednesday. Kerry might want to grab a commemorative coin — they’re expected to be worth a mint. Back in the States, music royalty Sean “Diddy” Combs launches an interactive cable music channel that will actually play videos.
The Kremlin’s increasing show of foreign policy confidence is causing the E.U. to sit up and take notice. Russia’s been busy sorting out Syria, jailing activists, roughing up diplomats and “bullying” its backyard. What does this new assertiveness mean for countries like France, the U.K., Germany, Poland and Italy? Foreign policy experts weigh in on whether the seemingly self-assured Putin is something to be concerned about.
It’s breast-cancer awareness month in the U.S., which once again points to extreme differences in the experiences of women throughout the world. An American woman recalls her very public, live-tweeted account and how it both helped and hindered her personal fight. In stark contrast, the story of Ugandan women’s continued struggle — and sometimes refusal — to get diagnosed or treated, plus the stigma attached to having the disease, is an eye-opening read. And if you’re feeling moved to support the cause, you might want to think twice before picking up some pink NFL merchandise.
UN aid chief calls for urgent ceasefire in Damascus. (BBC).
40 years after embargo, U.S. oil supply looks vulnerable. (USA Today).
J.P. Morgan makes tentative $13B deal on Justice Dept. civil probes. (WSJ).
How the Cardinals made it to the World Series. (NPR).
Revival of nuclear talks divides hard-liners in Iran. (WSJ).
Revisited high school assault case haunts Missouri town. (NYT).
While many in Washington may accept that they deserve a scolding, it must sting to receive it from Beijing. A biting op-ed in Xinhua, China’s state-run newswire, suggested that it’s time for a de-Americanized world in which a new global currency supplants the power of the dollar, there is greater respect for the U.N. and international law, and developing nations have greater power in international institutions. The tone seemed to be that of an equal power rather than a pushy upstart. From Beijing, a de-Americanized world must look very similar to a Sinicized world.
In keeping with Silicon Valley’s pivot to the developing world, Facebook has acquired Onavo, an Israeli start-up specializing in data compression. By compressing and optimizing traffic, Onavo reduces the amount of data that comes out of users’ plans when they access websites. In the developing world, where many users pay for data and excess charges can be substantial, “small data” is a valuable commodity. Facebook, Google, Twitter and Wikipedia all know that and are working to lighten the data load, recognizing that in the coming years the fight for new users will take place in emerging economies.
Some people fear that computers are usurping humans, but a new theory of education suggests that humans simply are not utilizing their competitive advantage. Schools perpetuate an educational system developed to fuel the industrial revolution by producing reliable human machines. However, what the modern world demands is problem-solving and innovative capacity. From Finland to India to a small village in Mexico, this is being achieved through student-driven, free-form learning, based on the principle that children can discover (and teach each other) almost anything. These methods may even erode educational inequality by shifting the focus from resources and teaching to innate potential.
Macy’s has long been famous for its Thanksgiving day parade in New York City, but it may now become infamous for a whole new holiday spectacle: opening its stores for business on Thanksgiving day itself. Macy’s is not the first major chain to cross the retail equivalent of the Maginot Line — Walmart and Toys “R” Us beat them to that position — but it has long positioned itself as more upscale than the stores traditionally associated with the Black Friday mad rush. As retailers continue scramble to undercut one another, we here at Ozy are calling “Black Fourth of July” before the decade is out.
Source: Washington Post
John Kerry may be sitting in the same office as Hillary Clinton, but the view has surely changed. Unlike Clinton, Kerry has already had his shot at the presidency and, having lost, has no further political ambitions. This may explain his greater directness as secretary of state and, some argue, his greater effectiveness. This is Kerry’s big chance to make his mark, and he has approached the role head-on: engineering breakthroughs with Syria, Iran, Russia, Israel, Palestine and Afghanistan. Clinton may yet climb to the top of the ladder, but a few rungs down Kerry is getting the job done.
Source: The Atlantic
How do young designers fund their global brand-busting home, furniture and clothing design dreams? They pool their resources and form collectives, a move becoming popular with the international under-35 set. Designers are coming together in Reykjavik (wool rugs and outerwear), Tokyo (neoprene-cushioned chairs) and San Salvador (artisan-made wooden furniture and home goods). A warning: You might want to hide the credit card before looking at these pieces.
Source: NY Mag
Slowly and stealthily the humble jellyfish is taking over the seas. And human impact, as usual, is to blame. The proliferation of this brainless but highly adaptable creature may have swimmers trembling in their trunks, but there is a much graver, global concern. Like shutting down two nuclear reactors (so far). The problems: Jellyfish are difficult to kill, have few predators and love to reproduce. But there’s one possible solution to fight the impending “Jellageddon” — if we have a taste for it, of course.
The World Series starts Wednesday, and one of the contestants has been determined. The St. Louis Cardinals sought redemption after losing the division series to eventual Series champs, the San Francisco Giants. After a Dodgers scare, the Cards triumphed and will take the field Wednesday. The Red Sox have two games left to secure their Series spot, and odds are with their home-field advantage. If victorious, this will be their third World Series appearance this decade.