The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Haiti’s Cholera Spreads to Mexico and Cuba

    The potentially deadly strain, believed to have been brought to Haiti by UN workers helping recovery efforts after the island nation’s deadly earthquake three years ago, is spreading. And officials aren’t sure when, or where, it might end. The disease is difficult to halt once it sneaks into areas with bad sanitation and water supplies. Mexico has tallied 171 cases since Sept. 9, while Cuba reports almost 700. Other nations where travelers might have visited or returned to after a stop in Haiti could also be at risk.

    Source: NPR

  2. Friends of Syria Call for Renewed Negotiations

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with ten other foreign ministers in London yesterday, calling for renewed commitment to Syrian negotiations. The “London 11” sought to lay the groundwork for the long-awaited Geneva II peace talks, but representatives of the fractured Syrian opposition were reluctant to commit. They continued to assert preconditions for their participation, including safe passage for Syrians in besieged areas and the removal of President Assad. Saudi Arabia was also unhappy — the Kingdom’s intelligence chief lashed out at the U.S. for its failure to act on Syria, insisting that relations between the two countries would change dramatically as a result.

    Sources: Al Jazeera, NYT, Washington Post

  3. Apple Launches New iPad Air and Mini

    The new tablets that Apple unveiled yesterday have been sped up and pared down. Coming Nov. 1, the iPad Air ($499) is 20 percent thinner than earlier models and weighs just a pound, while the new iPad Mini ($399) has speedier processing and a sharper display. The upgrades reflect Apple’s efforts to retain its position in the exploding tablet market, which is looking more and more like a high school popularity contest: Nokia and Microsoft launched new rival tablet products alongside Apple’s on Tuesday in the hopes of finally crashing the reigning cool kid’s party.

    Sources: WSJ, NYT

  4. Uruguay to Operate First State-Controlled Marijuana Market

    Instead of a war on drugs, Uruguay is waging a war with prices. By mid-2014, the country is expected to have the world’s first state-controlled cannabis market. The government will monitor the psychoactive levels and quality of the marijuana, which will be sold at approximately $1 per gram. The proposal aims to undercut drug traffickers who sell cheap, low-grade marijuana. Meanwhile, Gallup has released a poll showing that, for the first time, a clear majority of Americans (58 percent) support the legalization of marijuana.

    Source: The Guardian, Gallup

  5. Greenpeace Activist Charges Dropped, Spain Shows New Growth

    Russia drops piracy charges against Greenpeace activists. (BBC).

    Spain out of recession, grows for the first time in over two years. (BBC).

    Sultan of Brunei will introduce harsher Sharia penalties like amputations for theft and stoning for adultery. (USA Today).

    Syrian snipers targeting pregnant women. (CNN).

    Icahn sells large part of Netfix stake for 457 percent gain. (USA Today).


  6. Aging Khmer Rouge Leaders May Never Be Punished for Cambodian Genocide

    Cambodians fear that those complicit in the horrors of the killing fields will die before they are brought to justice by a Cambodia-U.N. tribunal. Nuon Chea and former president Khieu Samphan are the only two defendants remaining, of an initial four charged as part of the tribunal’s Case 002. Both men are in poor health and court funds are scarce as a result of government obstruction and international fatigue. Up to 2.2 million Cambodians died in Pol Pot’s warped vision of a peasant utopia, but so far just one person has been punished.

    Source: Reuters, Washington Post


  1. Nigeria Hopes Mass Weddings Will Help Fight Terrorism

    After years of deadly clashes between the Nigerian army and the Islamic sect Boko Haram, the northern Nigerian state of Kano hopes that helping young men say “I do” will encourage them to say “I don’t” to terrorism. The state’s Hizbah Board, a local bureau that implements Islamic law, has paid the dowry and wedding expenses for some 1,350 couples in the last 18 months. Some doubt this will be an effective anti-terror campaign, but the popularity is undeniable — the program’s waiting list is about 5,000 people long. A magnificent photo collection by photojournalist Glenna Gordon showcases the colorful, joyous celebrations.

    Sources: WSJ (sub), allAfrica

  2. New ’Brosurance’ Ads Target a Crucial Demographic for Obamacare

    Keg stands, Solo cups, and American flag shorts: a collaboration between the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative and ProgressNow Colorado Education has pulled out all the stops to create ads to encourage twenty-something males to enroll in the state’s new healthcare exchanges. Based on the “Got Milk?” ads, the “Got Insurance?” campaign aims to present real-world situations for which health insurance might be a good idea — including keg stands. The ads have the serious mission of encouraging the young and fit to enroll and help make healthcare exchanges financially viable — and to counter the “opt out” coozies distributed by Obamacare opponents.

    Sources: The Atlantic, Mother Jones

  3. Arizona Company to Offer Stratospheric Views From Balloons

    If you want to be launched into space but don’t have the $250,000 dollars to secure a ride with Virgin Galactic, an Arizona company named Paragon may have a solution. For only $75,000, you can get launched into the stratosphere using a balloon as thick as a dry cleaning bag. While Paragon’s balloons will only go a fraction of Virgin’s intended 68 miles above the Earth, the FAA still wants them to meet the requirements for manned spacecraft — even at 19 miles above the Earth, there are real dangers of decompression. Paragon hasn’t started lining up customers yet, but we’re ready.

    Source: Daily Maverick

  4. L.A.’s Invisible Cities Showcases Personalized Performing Arts

    As the New York City opera files for bankruptcy, L.A. based-opera company The Industry is pushing the boundaries of operatic production. Invisible Cities, a collaboration with the L.A. Dance Project, takes places in Los Angeles’s Union Station. Instead of sinking into cushy seats, the headphone-clad audience tracks the performance through the station. They hear the orchestra and performers through a sophisticated system of microphones, transmitters and cables rigged by German audio company Sennheiser. Invisible Cities is part of a swelling personalized performing arts movement, which takes productions off the stage and thrusts viewers into the action.

    Source: Wired

  5. Cardinals-Red Sox World Series Should be a True Fall Classic

    The St. Louis Cardinals take on the Boston Red Sox in the World Series tonight, and it’s hard to say who has the edge. Both teams have average offenses and landing in the Fall Classic mostly due to pitching. The Cardinals have undergone a massive lineup change since they were in the Series two years ago, with a new manager and an overhauled pitching staff. The Red Sox boast big-money free agents. The last time these teams met in the World Series in 2004, the Sox swept, but it’s looking like an even matchup this time.

    Sources: ESPN, SweetSpot