The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Rocker Lou Reed dead at 71; Merkel bugged for more than a decade?

    Rock pioneer Lou Reed dead at 71, hugely influential guitarist and songwriter. (Rolling Stone).

    The NSA may have monitored Angela Merkel’s phone for more than 10 years. (The Guardian).

    As Fed meets next week, maybe a little inflation would be a good thing? (New York Times).

    Ted Cruz visits Iowa, raising talk of 2016 presidential run. (NBC News).

    Syria files plan to destroy chemical weapons, sticks to tight timeline. (Globe and Mail).

    Thousands march in Asia’s largest gay parade, support marriage bill. (GlobalPost).


  2. Women in Saudi Arabia Get Behind the Wheel to Oppose Driving Ban 

    For the third time since 1990, Saudi women took to the streets to protest the kingdom’s ban on licenses for female drivers. Activists claim that, despite warnings from authorities threatening unspecified punishment for defying the ban, at least 60 women hit the road in support. One woman described her journey: ”I just took a small loop. I didn’t drive for a long way, but it was fine. I went to the grocery store.” Some women uploaded video proof of their protest to YouTube. The show of defiance comes in the wake of perceived mixed messages from the interior about which side of the driving ban the government supports, and pro-campaign voices calling for an “end to this absurd debate” making it into the mainstream press. Could this be starting road toward broader rights for Saudi women?

    Sources: BBC, USA TodayGuardian, Reuters

  3. Lasting Impact of the Shutdown, and Obamacare Still Begins (Sorta)

    Congress may have figured out how to play nice for the time being, but the effects of the debt-ceiling drama continue to ripple. GOP polls have sunk, the IRS had to push back an important tax filing deadline, and the economy took such a hit that economists worry it will take months to truly the gauge the impact. The shutdown occurred in part because conservative Republicans wanted to stop Obamacare. They failed, but the online health-care exchange’s glitches are causing headaches and prompting another Washington blame game.

    Sources: Washington Post, CBS, NYT, Bloomberg, USA Today

  4. A Marathon — and a City — Seeks Redemption 

    Last year’s cancellation of the New York City Marathon due to Hurricane Sandy generated its own firestorm. Organizers had planned to continue with the race four days after the storm hit, despite blocks of devastation. Once canceled, the race stranded thousands of runners in New York, some of whom had traveled internationally. Many racers, who had been training for months, became a valuable resource, pitching in with storm cleanup. This year’s race, which starts Sunday, November 3, also offers the opportunity to do volunteer work around the city. But there’s another specter looming: the Boston Marathon attacks. To help ensure a safer event for all, extra security measures are being put in place, including the banning of strollers and hydration backpacks. And as we learned a few weeks ago on OZY, the NYPD and its intelligence unit are in a class by themselves

    Sources: CNN, Men’s Fitness, NY Daily News, GlobalPost

  5. Fukushima Nuclear Cleanup on the Brink of Failure

    It’s an embarrassing reality for officials tasked with nullifying the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, severely damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that brought annihilation to eastern Japan: Some 400,000,000 tons of toxic water seeps into the ocean weekly, unabated, with new leaks discovered regularly. Tepco, the corporation in charge, has not performed admirably, relying on the government for ideas and funding while simultaneously devoting gobs of money and time to lobbying efforts. Today, Japanese politicians from former prime minister Naoto Kan to acting mayors have expressed regrets, but their platitudes only go so far. It’s Tepco who controls Fukushima’s fate.

    Sources: Washington Post, GlobalPost, Japan Times

  6. Problems Persist in Post-Gaddafi Libya, but No Regrets

    At least when Muammar Gaddafi was in power, Libyans knew who was trying to beat you, detain you or kill you. Two years after the overthrow and death of the brutal dictator, one can never be sure. A new saying has emerged: “Before we only had one Gaddafi, but now we have hundreds.” While most Libyans don’t regret their part in the Arab Spring, the nation now exists in a state of militia lawlessness, as rebels and vigilantes operate with impunity. But as Wednesday’s fervent Victory Day celebrations show, it’s hard to be worse than the murderous, iron-fisted colonel.

    Source: GlobalPost

  7. New Goals, New Organization, New Leadership at the World Bank

    Everyone expected Dr. Jim Kim, the first World Bank president without a background in the political or financial sectors and with massive experience in tackling public health crises in poor countries, to make changes at the institution. The new strategy ratified this month is clear: End extreme poverty by 2030 and foster income growth amongst the poorest 40 percent in every country, not just poor ones. Fourteen new ”global practices” will cut across the regions in which the bank works, and new diagnostic measures will focus the institution’s sometimes disparate projects. Success in fighting poverty is always uncertain, but if the changes are effective, we’ll all have something to celebrate.

    Source: Economist


  1. Hard Look at ”Leaning In” Reveals Feminism Lite

    When Susan Faludi looks at Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” movement, she sees feel-good book clubs for the haves — and not equality demands and social change for the have-nots. Instead of being about smashing societal barriers, Lean In is all about how “women need to break down ‘internal obstacles’ within themselves that are preventing them from moving up the work ladder.” But equal rights legislation and pressuring corporations for better working conditions? That’s not really something Lean In wants to touch on. If it’s all about making women more desirable for the bosses, how exactly is it feminism? 

    Source: The Baffler

  2. Work Routines of the Famously Artistic and Inspired

    Looking to tap into your inner creative genius? A new survey of the work habits of famous artists by Mason Currey may provide some hints. One finds the disciplined early-riser crew (Murakami, Beethoven, Mahler), the slightly less predictable night owls (Fitzgerald, Proust, Kafka), and those powered by constant coffee (Balzac), constant nicotine (Freud) or prescription drugs (Ayn Rand). Those hoping to find easily applicable secrets to success might be disappointed, however: The one element all these routines share is copious amounts of hard work.  

    Source: Der Spiegel

  3. What Animal “Friendship” Teaches Us about Creature Emotions

    Though the ”F-word” (friend) has long prompted controversy in animal behavior research, Barbara King, a professor of anthropology, argues that as we learn more about the rich emotional lives of many animals, we should be open to considering the ways in which they experience friendship. Borrowing renowned anthropologist Marshall Sahlins’s concept of ”mutuality of being,” King explores different instances in which non-kinship pairs of chimpanzees, elephants, dogs and other animals express grief, care and affection. Far from being mere anecdotes, King suggests that this evidence pushes us to consider our own commonalities with animals to an extent once dismissed as unreasonable.

    Source: Aeon

  4. The Fast Pace of Youth Dominates This Year’s NBA Predictions

    After years spent obsessing over NBA veterans like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade, it’s time for the new breed to take center stage. For NBA fans, this season is about the young guns and their torrid pace of play. Expect Stephen Curry, 25, to be the best outside shooter in the league. Anthony Davis, 20, will be a freak of nature in New Orleans. And for the best redemption story, look for former top pick Greg Oden, an old man at 25, to step on the court for the first time in four years with the Heat.

    Sources: Grantland, CBS

  5. Tiny Spanish Village Turns Communist Dreams into Reality

    Led by a bearded mayor with prophet-like charisma, the residents of Marinaleda in southern Spain have struggled for decades to transform their poverty-stricken home into a thriving community where people have food, jobs and dignity. Focusing on labor-intensive crops like artichokes, peppers and broccoli, the members of the town’s cooperative grow and process crops in assigned work teams; they make decisions collectively and reinvest profits into their farming ventures. In Andalusia, where the unemployment rate is a crippling 36 percent, Marinaleda’s venture offers a bright contrast — and, as the emergence of a copycat farming community nearby suggests, it might just be catching on with capitalism-fatigued Spaniards. 

    Source: Guardian