The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Chemical Arms Watchdog Confirms Destruction of Syria Declared Sites

    Syria has met the deadline for “functional destruction” of all the chemical weapons, international chemical arms inspectors say. This means that declared critical production and mixing facilities in the county are now rendered inoperable. While some experts hail this event as a turning point, it “brings no relief to the Syrian people” who continue to face military and siege tactics the Assad regime. The nation is due to destroy its stockpiles of chemical weapons – a declared 1,290 metric tons – by mid 2014.

    Source: NYT

  2. NSA Harvesting Data From Google and Yahoo Data Centers

    One day before Halloween, the latest disclosures from the Snowden files revealed that the NSA’s bag of tricks is even more ghoulish than previously known. Apparently using the court-monitored, front-door method of obtaining intelligence goodies was not sufficient. The agency also gorges itself “at will” on droves of data reaped directly from the fiber-optic cables that Google and Yahoo use to connect their data centers. Spooked by the revelations, both companies expressed outrage, and Google has even hinted that they are now in something of a data encryption arms race with the British and American governments. Time yet to pardon Edward Snowden and thank him for unmasking the monster in our midst?

    Sources: Washington Post, The Guardian, NPR

  3. Obama Defends Health Care Rollout in Boston Speech

    President Obama arrived in Boston yesterday, not to watch the World Series, but to defend his signature domestic program. In a speech at Faneuil Hall, he took “full responsibility” for rollout difficulties and promised to “grind it out” to see the Affordable Care Act’s successful implementation. He also addressed concerns that the law doesn’t allow everyone with coverage to keep it. While some individuals may see their coverage canceled, he said, most of them will find better coverage at a comparable or lower price on the new exchanges. Whether his words will appease the GOP remains doubtful.

    Sources: NYT, WSJ (sub), USA Today, NPR

  4. Senior Muslim Brotherhood Leader Arrested in Egypt

    Egyptian police arrested Essam el-Erian, the deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, yesterday in a Cairo suburb on charges of inciting violence — the same charges that former president Morsi goes on trial for on Monday. El-Erian is one of the final senior Brotherhood leaders to be apprehended in a military crackdown that has taken as many as 6,000 Brotherhood members into custody. Some say his arrest marks the complete dismantlement of the group as a political force.

    Sources: WSJ (sub), Al Arabiya, Voice of America

  5. Bipartisan Budget Negotiations Begin Alongside News of Smaller U.S. Deficit

    No matter how badly President Obama may want one, the bipartisan Congressional budget committee has made it clear that a “grand bargain” is not in the works. The 29-member group has until Dec. 13 to strike a budget deal for 2014, and in their opening statements yesterday members downplayed talk of compromise. Congress hasn’t passed a budget since April 2009. The announcement of a smaller-than-expected deficit coupled with mid-term elections next year means they are unlikely to do anything more than avoid another shutdown right now.

    Sources: NYT, The Guardian


  6. Facebook Grows Profits, Israel Grows Out, GoDaddy Grows Up

    Facebook beats expectations with 60 percent surge in revenue and doubling of quarterly profits. (NYT).

    Israel announces 1,500 new settlements as it releases 26 Palestinian prisoners. (Al Jazeera).

    FDA says 12 percent of spices imported into the U.S. are contaminated. (NYT).

    Three former News of the World journalists plead guilty to phone hacking. (CNN).

    GoDaddy not doing sexy ads at this year’s Super Bowl. (USA Today).


  1. Putin Tops Obama on Forbes Power List

    Maybe President Obama should pose for photos with wildlife more often (and we don’t mean the capital press corps). President Putin has overtaken Obama on Forbes’ list of the world’s most powerful people. One reason for Obama’s drop: his weak presence on the world stage, according to editor-in-chief Steve Forbes. The number of women rose to nine, and there are 28 billionaires and 17 heads of state. The most impressive newcomer is perhaps the only one of the 72 power brokers who carries his own bag: Pope Francis debuts at No. 4.

    Source: Forbes

  2. Brazil’s Richest Man Now Bankrupt

    If Forbes ever compiles the World’s Biggest Flameouts, Brazil’s Eike Batista will figure at the top of the list. In just 16 months, Batista, once the world’s eighth richest man, went from $30 billion to bankruptcy — a crash that makes Mike Tyson’s $400 million bust look like a bad weekend in Vegas. What happened? The former “poster boy of Brazilian entrepreneurialism” bet that he could discover oil off Brazil’s coast. He lost. But Batista can take comfort in the story of one Donald Trump who, despite declaring bankruptcy four times, has proven that sometimes a billionaire’s brand is more important than his business sense.

    Source: Businessweek

  3. Google Glass Gets Pulled Over, Dell Fixes ‘Cat Urine’ Problem

    A California woman made history Tuesday night when she snagged the first ticket ever for speeding while wearing Google Glass. The highway patrol officer booked her not for narcissism but for violating a law that prevents drivers from watching television and other screens. Meanwhile Dell, which has been mulling entry into wearable tech, has moved into unbearable tech. After customers complained that the new Latitude 6430u Ultrabooks smelled like cat urine, the company announced they fixed the manufacturing glitch that led to the odor. But any publicity is good publicity, right?

    Sources: Mashable, BBC

  4. Film Version of Ender’s Game Hits Theaters

    Fans of the sci-fi novel “Ender’s Game” have waited nearly 30 years for the movie version. An all-star cast led by Harrison Ford and Viola Davis coupled with ace special effects should justify the delay. Author Orson Scott Card had been notoriously reluctant to have this work on the silver screen, but he calls the adaptation “damn good.”  Despite some activists’ calls to boycott the film because of Scott’s anti-gay marriage views, Lionsgate is predicting a blockbuster opening weekend. And if all else fails, they have an almost sure winner in the child soldier dystopia genre with ”Catching Fire,” the second in the Hunger Games series, hitting theaters next month.

    Sources: Wired, LA Times

  5. Red Sox Win the World Series in Boston

    The Red Sox and their fans celebrated the Game 6, 6-1 World Series clincher over the St. Louis Cardinals into the wee hours of the morning at Fenway Park, relishing the city’s first championship win at home since 1918 and their third title in 10 years. Series MVP David Ortiz, who batted an astounding .688 in six games, walked four times (three intentionally) as the Red Sox tagged Cards rookie phenom Michael Wacha for six runs in the first four innings.

    Sources: USA Today, Boston Globe