The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Injuries After LAX Shooting, Kerry Admits Spying Went Too Far

    Multiple injuries and flight delays after LAX shooting. (LA Times, CNN, USA Today).

    U.S. Secretary of State Kerry admits surveillance overstepped its bounds. (The Guardian).

    Appeals court reinstates most of Texas abortion restrictions. (CNN).

    Amid negotiations, Congolese forces hunt down last M23 rebels. (Al Jazeera).

    Germany to allow “third gender.” (BBC).

    U.S. budget deficit drops below $1 trillion for first time since 2008. (NPR). 

  2. Food Stamp Cutbacks Take Effect Today

    More than 47 million Americans will lose food money starting Nov. 1, with a family of four receiving $36 less per month. That may not seem like a lot, but try feeding four mouths on less than $635 a month, proponents of the program say. Charities are gearing up for a greater demand. But the cuts may not end here: food stamps fall under the national farm bill, which Congress is still debating. Experts predict the overall economy will feel a pinch from less spending at the grocery store, too.

    Sources: NYT, CNN, NPR

  3. Only a Handful of People Enrolled on Healthcare.Gov the First Day

    In what is looking like the worst opening number since Rob Lowe began the 1989 Academy Awards by singing “Proud Mary” with Snow White, it now appears that only six people successfully enrolled on on its first day. The figures, contained in documents released by the GOP-controlled House Oversight Committee, also indicate that just 248 people had enrolled by the end Day 2. On Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Congress that she could not yet give any enrollment figures, and HHS claims that it will be releasing official figures in a report later this month. Hopefully the official opening tally will require more than two hands to count up.

    Sources: USA Today, NBC News

  4. Toronto Mayor Refuses to Resign After Police Obtain Crack Use Video

    Footage allegedly showing Toronto mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine, rumored to exist since May, has been obtained by police – and Ford wants them to release it. Ford had denied drug use and the footage’s existence for months, but now says he welcomes news that the video is in police custody. The scandal simmered all summer in Toronto, involving a gang, a murdered drug dealer, shady figures offering to sell the footage to news agencies, and the mayor helping others escape police surveillance. Ford’s friend was arrested Thursday for extortion and drug-related charges. The mayor remains adamant that he will not step down. Expect things to get ugly in Hogtown.

    Sources: The Star, CBC News, NPR

  5. Israel Launches Air Strikes in Syria, But Lips Stay Sealed

    Syrian state television reported Wednesday that explosions in the sky were routine military research. But conflicting reports surfaced Thursday, claiming the explosions were actually strategic strikes by the Israeli Air Force on a supply of Russian surface-to-air missiles bound for Hezbollah in Lebanon. An Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman refused to address the reports, which allegedly originated from an anonymous source in the Obama administration. Rumors circulated of a second Israeli attack in Damascus. That’s a lot of conversation about something no one is officially talking about in an already complex Middle East.

    Sources: Haaretz, The Daily Star, BBC

  6. Court Blocks Changes to NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk Policy

    A federal appeals court shockingly overturned a decision that would have reformed New York City’s controversial stop-and-frisk practice. Originally, Judge Shira Scheindlin found that the program routinely violated the 4th and 14th Amendment rights of African-Americans and Latinos, although Mayor Bloomberg claimed the program helped drop city crime rates to an all-time low. On appeal, Scheindlin was kicked off the case for impartiality that “ran afoul” of the judiciary’s code of conduct. For now at least, stop-and-frisk lives on in NYC.

    Source: NYT


  1. Booker Joins the Senate, and Biden Nearly Missed Swearing Him In

    Cory Booker became only the fourth elected African-American senator yesterday, and he visited the last person to join that club, President Obama. Senate Dems embraced Booker, who has serious fundraising potential, but questions remain whether he can translate star power into legislative action. Meanwhile, in “Double Down,” a sequel to the 2008 U.S. campaign classic “Game Change,” Mark Halperin and John Heilemann reveal juicy new details from the 2012 contest. Apparently Joe Biden was nearly replaced by Hilary Clinton on the Obama ticket, and Booker’s fellow New Jerseyite, Republican Chris Christie, left certain questions unanswered on Mitt Romney’s vice presidential background check.

    Sources: NPR, WSJ, NYT

  2. FAA Clears Electronic Gadgets for In-Flight Use

    The FAA says it is now safe to keep your electronic devices on at all times. After years of stern pre-flight briefings, the Federal Aviation Administration has determined that devices like tablets, laptops and MP3 players cause minimal disruption to airplanes’ radio equipment. U.S. flights will begin allowing passengers to turn on and plug in during take-off and landing within the next few months. But cell phones remain on the no-fly list as the FAA and many airlines continue to assess whether their planes can handle the radio interference from the devices, and their passengers can handle their seatmates’ jabbering.

    Sources: The Economist, BBC


  3. KFC Closes Up Shop in Syria Amid Growing Food Crisis

    Fast-food brands like KFC, Hardee’s and Pizza Hut have remained remarkably durable in the conflict-torn Middle East. Customers continually pay several times a day’s wages for a bucket of the colonel’s chicken. Nevertheless, declining food production, increasingly risky transportation and runaway inflation became too much even for franchises in Syria’s most stable areas. With purveyors pulling out and more Syrian food going to more stable (and profitable) foreign nations, the country’s food crisis is becoming more acute.

    Source: The Atlantic

  4. Google’s Unveils Nexus 5 Phone With New KitKat OS

    Google’s latest Android phone hits stores today, and so far the reviews range from good to glowing. Major innovations include a voice-operated search that checks information within apps (a first), an integrated Hangouts space that includes SMS and chats, and Google Now, which uses your location to anticipate searches and includes updates from your most-visited websites on the phone’s home screen. Perhaps most significant is the tightened-up operating system, which allows the candy-themed KitKat to run on the low-end handsets that comprise the fastest-growing sectors of the smartphone market.

    Sources: Wired, The Verge, ZDNet

  5. Star NHL Goalie Arrested on Domestic Abuse Charges

    Colorado Avalanche star goalie Semyon Varlamov faces kidnapping and assault charges relating to an incident involving his model girlfriend. Varlamov, who has helped lead the Avs to a 10-1 start, and his lady have had a turbulent history since meeting in Russia four years ago. One Russian politician is crying foul, alleging that the U.S. (in the form of the Denver police) is trying to keep Varlamov from practicing with the Russian team before the Sochi Olympics. According to the police report, Varlamov kicked Evgenia Vavinyuk, 24, threatened her and dragged her around the house.

    Source: USA Today, Denver Post