The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. On Tap for Tuesday: Local Votes, National Implications

    Congress gets a break this year, but there are still big names on ballots Nov. 5. The rundown:

    VA governor: Polls vacillate between Clinton pal Terry McAuliffe and Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli in a race seen as a testing ground for 2016. Sources: USA Today, Politico 

    NJ governor: Governor Chris Christie hit the road for a final statewide campaign push. His high profile all but assures a win, even if he lost a major endorsement just this week to challenger Barbara Buono. Source:

    NYC mayor: Exuent Bloomberg. And it’s looking like the city that never sleeps is in for a liberal wake-up from progressive Bill de Blasio. Source: NYT

  2. The NSA and under Not-So-Friendly Fire

    Dueling House hearings took aim at NSA wiretapping and the failures of the new Obamacare website this week. Revelations of more spying on foreign governments prompted another round of international outrage, while top brass called some of the Edward Snowden leaks “completely false” before the House Intelligence Committee. Meanwhile, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius apologized for the troubled health-care website before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Fingers pointed at the contractors, but Republicans still want her gone. Sebelius takes the hot seat before the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday, while GOP Sen. John McCain wants to convene special committee on the NSA issue. 

    Sources: CNNChicago Tribune, The Guardian

  3. FBI Identify Gunman in Deadly Los Angeles Airport Shooting

    A 23-year-old Los Angeles man has been identified as the suspected gunman behind the deadly shooting spree at America’s third-busiest airport. The attack left a security official dead and seven people injured. The resulting chaos impacted over 700 flights nationwide, left much of the country’s third-busiest airport shut, and stranded travelers on planes, buses and sidewalks. A rambling note found in the alleged shooter’s belongings may shed light on the motive behind the attack.

    Sources: NYT, BBC, LA Times 

  4. Tracking Climate Change and the Damage Done

    The time for debate on the climate is over, according to the investigative team at GlobalPost. A 10-week video and interview series highlights the catastrophic damage being wrought by climate change around the world, from Cancun to the Gobi Desert. The findings are less subtle, more Hollywood epic: political conflict, economic deterioration, human displacement and loss of life, with testimony from those who witnessed damage firsthand. Climate disruption should the biggest news story in the world; this series explains why. That said, as OZY explores, some areas are reaping benefits. 

    Source: Global Post

  5. Pakistan Forces on High Alert, Daylight Savings Reminder

    Pakistan’s security forces on high alert following US drone strike. (Washington Post, The Guardian)

    Daylight savings and a solar eclipse this weekend. (USA Today).

    Brazil and Germany draft anti-spy resolution at UN. (BBC).

    Chilean exile wins compensation over Pinochet-era torture. (BBC).

    Egypt’s popular “Daily Show”-type satirist pulled from the air. (LA Times).

    Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova reportedly ”missing.” (NME). 

  6. America’s Search for the Notorious War Criminal Continues

    Despite a massive military effort, a warrant from the ICC and probably the most successful online video campaign ever, Joseph Kony is still at large, though substantially less powerful. The manhunt stands out among American military operations. Although the Lord’s Resistance Army presents no threat to the U.S. and no existential threat to any nation in Africa, this campaign has ready and consistent support from the president, the Pentagon and Congress, and the U.S. has lately intensified its support for local troops. There are plenty of brutal war criminals on the loose, but only one with more than 100 million views on YouTube. 

    Source: Washington Post

  7. Illegal Immigration Falls but Tech Border Wars Are Just Heating Up

    Call it the evolution of an American dream. The western frontier has always attracted fantasies. In some ways, that’s how the militiamen hunting illegal border busters along the Mexican line came to be. But as the U.S. “frontier” shifted to include Middle Eastern wars and money interests, it also became more about big business, and less about the Wild West, posits a think-piece book review. But as the high-tech money grows, and the U.S. passes more border bills, maybe the future is coming back around to keep some of the world’s poorest people from making a mad dash for a new life. 

    Source: The Nation


  1. U.S. Congress Celebrates Diwali for First Time

    This week, Capitol Hill lit bipartisan fires for Congress’s first-ever celebration of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. Republicans, Democrats and influential Indian-Americans came together to light the traditional diyas (oil lamps) and celebrate what Rep. Joe Crowley called the “powerful and significant” relationship between India and the United States. This was a first in American history, but the festival hasn’t entirely caught on despite America’s growing Indian population. The U.S. Postal Service rejected a proposed Diwali stamp earlier this year, and San Antonio is still the only American city with its own Diwali fireworks display. 

    Sources: Deccan Chronicle, Indian Express

  2. How Vietnamese Coffee Built a One-Man Town in Wyoming

    The smallest town in America — a 10-acre plot on the Wyoming plains — has ambitions to become the next Starbucks with a Southeast Asian twist. Nguyen Dinh Pham, a Vietnamese entrepreneur, bought Buford, Wyo., for $900,000 in an online auction last year from Vietnam War veteran Don Sammons. Buford’s largest building, the trading post, now resembles a Wild West-Vietnamese market, but its new mayor and population-of-one, Pham, has ambitions to put the town on the map as more than a curiosity. Buford has become the American home of the Vietnamese coffee market. Even cross-country truckers are already calling Pham’s coffee “the high test” stuff. 

    Source: Los Angeles Times

  3. Argentine Foosball Flick Bucks Hollywood’s Animation System

    Pixar may have to watch its back after the unexpected rise of an Argentinean animated film about a boy whose foosball figures come to life and help him take on a professional soccer team. ”Metegol” (“Foosball” in Argentine Spanish), directed by Juan José Campanella, is thought to be the most expensive Argentinean film ever made, and yet its budget is less than half of recent animated Hollywood films like ”Despicable Me 2” and ”Rise of the Guardians.” Universal Pictures has nevertheless taken an interest, suggesting ”Metegol”’s colorful 3-D characters could be the ones to get an outsider toehold in Hollywood. 

    Source: New Yorker

  4. NFL Still Can’t Compete with America’s Pastime

    The Super Bowl may attract more TV viewers every year, but recent studies suggest baseball is still the top hitter. Jubilant scenes in Boston after this week’s spectacular Red Sox World Series win affirm that baseball’s support hails from its home cities — and this may ultimately be better for the sport than high-scoring TV ratings. While most baseball fans are regional and attend games frequently, up to 96 percent of football fans have never set foot in an NFL stadium. America may be a football nation, but fans in cities with MLB and NFL teams say the World Series still knocks the Super Bowl out of the park. 

    Source: The Atlantic

  5. The Dark Side of the Chinese Art Boom

    China has overtaken the U.S. as the world’s largest art and auction market. At least that’s what the figures say. Under the surface, forgery, fraud and buyer default are rampant. State officials are routinely bribed with art, whether authentic or not, and up to a third of auction-house transactions have not been completed. Most famously, a Qi Baishi piece sold for a record $65.2 million but has been sitting in a warehouse for two years due to allegations of forgery. Regulators are overwhelmed by the scale of the problem. In the art market, the creaking communist machinery simply can’t keep up with China’s virile capitalism.

    Source: NYT