The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Story of the Week: Waking Up to Climate Change

    “We have delivered,” declared Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as delegates concluded Tuesday’s U.N. climate change summit in New York. Delivered what, exactly? China and the U.S. made carbon reduction promises, but it only took a moment for Nelson Mandela’s widow to contradict Ban, saying leaders had disappointed thousands who marched for climate change action. Whether the opportunity seems missed or seized, the next step will be forging an agreement when leaders meet in Paris at the end of 2015.

    The Guardian, FT (sub), USA Today, CNBC

  2. Coming Up: India’s PM Taking America by Storm

    If Narendra Modi can get a low-budget orbiter to Mars on the first try, surely he can repair U.S. relations. India’s new prime minister arrived in New York Friday to begin a marathon of more than 50 speeches and meetings with officials, the media and business leaders — while fasting. Maybe he’s making up for lost time after being barred from American soil because of deadly 2002 religious riots in the state he was running. That’s all changed; on Monday and Tuesday, he’ll visit the White House.

    NYT, Times of India, USA Today

  3. Can the IS Debacle Lead to Kurdish Statehood

    Iraqi Kurds fight the hardest against Islamic State, but what’s the reward? Since the Ottoman Empire’s collapse, the Kurds have been divided between Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria. U.S. officials want to keep Iraq together, but Kurdish leaders see IS’s border-blurring campaign as an opportunity. Could this be the moment to realize the dream of an independent Kurdistan? It would be another unintended consequence of U.S. military policy, fracturing Iraq and angering NATO allies in Turkey, so American officials are seeking a palatable payoff for its proxy warriors.

    New Yorker


  4. Anti-Semitism Returns to Europe

    The recent conflict in Gaza sparked an array of anti-Israel protests across Europe, but many Jewish leaders are seeing something much more ominous. Antisemitic chants and graffiti in France, Belgium and Germany, they say, have echoes of the 1930s. Many of the places where The trend is most evident in areas with large, often impoverished, Muslim immigrant communities. Youth struggling to adapt to Western society find scapegoats for their troubles in the Arab World’s hottest third rail, while the targets of this new wave of hate have vowed to fight back.



  1. The Woman Who Might Be ‘Meaner than Rahm’

    Rahm Emanuel, who helped elect the first black president of the United States, is one of the toughest SOBs in American politics. And yet it seems the biggest threat he faces to his job as mayor of Chicago is a schoolteacher. But don’t let Karen Lewis’s sing-song telephone voice fool you. As president of the Chicago Teachers Union, she has gone toe-to-toe with the mayor and won. Though Lewis has not announced a 2015 bid, polls already have her teaching his honor a lesson.


  2. Drought Threatens the Nation’s Food Supply

    Groundwater use in California “practically defines the term unsustainable,” says a California hydrologist. Some fields in the once-lush Central Valley have dropped 30 feet as all the water is sucked from beneath them. Dust clouds obscure the snow-starved Sierra Nevada Mountains that normally trickle water through the summer. Even though it’s only 2 percent of the nation’s farmland, the valley produces half of U.S. fruits and nuts by value. After three years of thirst in California, hunger elsewhere is sure to follow.

    National Geographic, Medium

  3. Mesmeric Folk Festival Calls Greeks Home

    Folk music, at its best, is born of centuries-long symbiotic relationships between communities, land and loss. Vitsa, in mountainous northwestern Greece, is so remote that few other influences have diluted its mournful, hypnotic folk, played annually at the spiritually charged panegyri festival. Today the village has a constant population of just 50; most in the community leave to find work. But hundreds return each summer for the festival, to join a dance that mourns lost friends and experiences, while simultaneously celebrating whatever and whoever remains.

    NYT Magazine

  4. Female Students Stage Radical Anti-Rape Protests

    Emma Sulkowicz has carried her mattress around Columbia University for weeks, protesting the school’s failure to boot her alleged rapist. “Mattress Girl” has gone viral as she and other feminist firebrands have pushed the issue of campus rape into the political spotlight. It’s clearly working: The White House is onboard, reinforcing a regulatory standard that makes it easier to kick the perps out of school, while universities have codified anti-rape policies. But survivors say they continue to be stigmatized as assailants freely prowl campuses.

    The Cut

  5. Clayton Kershaw’s Fantastic Summer

    The Dodgers’ star did amazingly well this year, just not this spring. After back surgery, Kershaw’s ERA was an average 3.57. In June, it was a phenomenal 0.87. One could argue that it was the best pitching summer in a century, in some ways better than greats Sandy Koufax or Nolan Ryan. Were it not for Pedro Martinez’s lowest-ever walks and hits for the Red Sox in 1999 and 2000, Kershaw would be shoo-in for having the best pitching summer since World War I. 

    The Atlantic