The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Up to 10,000 May Have Died in Historic Typhoon

    Entire towns lay flattened, some still underwater, as hundreds of thousands of survivors struggle to find food, water and shelter, according to relief agencies on the ground in the island nation. Dead bodies are strewn everywhere. Crippled roads and communication systems stymie rescue workers. Some stores have reported looting. Other countries have pledged millions of dollars in aid, but relief workers warn it could be months before the true extent of Haiyan’s impact is known.

    Sources: BBC, CNN, NY Times

  2. On Veterans Day, Struggling to Meet the Needs of Modern Warriors

    A day honoring veterans and marking the end of World War I takes on new meaning in both the U.S. and abroad, as many struggle to cope with the ghosts of war. One American homeless veteran’s makeover, captured on film, has gone viral, while in the U.K., a columnist recalls a troubled friend who felt betrayed by the nation he served. The faces of veterans are changing after Iraq and Afghanistan, and many say the government isn’t doing nearly enough when they return home.

    Sources: NPR, The Guardian, Politico, Shriver Report


  3. Iranian Nuke Talks End Without a Deal

    A much-anticipated nuclear deal failed to emerge from talks between Iran and the P5+1 group, as tensions within the Western negotiating bloc sunk any potential accord. Sticking points included whether Iran has a right to enrich uranium, and French concerns about Iran’s stock of medium-enriched uranium and a heavy water reactor that could produce plutonium. Though not physically present, Israel made itself felt via Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s direct appeals to Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel and, most fruitfully, Francois Hollande — despite President Obama’s personal request that Israel step aside. Negotiations will resume in 10 days with lower level officials.

    Sources: NYT, The Guardian, NPR

  4. Japan Expected to Report Slower Third Quarter Growth

    Abenomics seems to have encountered its first major speed bump. Named after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the massive effort to rescue Japan from a decades-long economic slump combines easing the yen to make Japanese exports more competitive with healthy injections of public infrastructure spending. But expectations this week are that Japan will post third quarter GDP growth of 1.7 percent, below the 2.8 percent rate of the U.S. and a sharp decrease from earlier this year. The stumble is largely due to weaker export demands from emerging markets, whose own growth projections have slowed amidst concerns about how long the U.S. Federal Reserve will continue its soft money policy.

    Source: WSJ (sub), Bloomberg

  5. Global Climate Talks Kick Off in Warsaw

    Delegates from some 190 countries are gathering in Warsaw to talk climate change for the next two weeks. With the U.S. stepping up its commitments, attention has shifted toward increasing emissions cutbacks from China and other developing economies. Meanwhile Russia, still smarting from being overruled at the last Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Qatar, is challenging the voting procedures, a stubborn sticking point that must be worked out if a major agreement is to be reached in Paris in 2015, the target date for a new global protocol.

    Sources: BBC, Al Jazeera

  6. Kenya to Begin Repatriating Half a Million Somali Refugees

    Kenya will begin repatriating roughly 500,000 Somali refugees, a move that might be more about Kenya’s national security than Somalia’s. The operation, which Kenyan deputy president William Ruto suggested would take three years, supposedly signifies Somalia’s increasing political and economic stability. But it may also reflect Kenya’s growing concern, in the wake of the Westgate mall attack, that the large Somali refugee population harbors terrorists. Somalians began pouring into Kenya in 1991, when the central government collapsed, and many of those residing in Kenya have never set foot in their homeland.

    Sources: BBC, Global Times

  7. China Beats Out Cyber Monday, ’60 Minutes’ Apologizes for Benghazi Report

    China’s “Singles Day” quickly eclipses U.S. Cyber Monday with online sales expected to hit $5 billion. (CNBC).

    ”60 Minutes” apologizes on air for Benghazi report based on discredited source. (NYT).

    Incognito defends himself: ”My actions were coming from a place of love.” (FOX Sports).

    Miley Cyrus smokes a joint onstage and twerks with a dwarf at MTV Europe Music Awards. (USA Today).


  1. College Acceptances Influenced by Applicants’ Online Selves

    U.S. colleges are increasingly taking prospective students’ social media presences into account during the admissions process. This year, 31 percent of college admissions officers say that they check applicants’ Facebook profile pages to match faces and personalities with essays and test scores. And profane tweets and high school party photos factor into admissions decisions. Some applicants may feel that such social scrutiny is unjustified or unfair, but it’s clear that they are building a personal dossier that could influence the decisions of potential schools more than their carefully crafted application essays.

    Source: NYT

  2. The Olympic Torch Takes a Walk in Space

    Russian cosmonauts have begun the traditional Olympic torch relay in an even colder place than Sochi, the city set to host the 2014 Winter Games — just outside the front door of the International Space Station, some 200 miles above Earth. Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazansky, two of the nine astronauts currently aboard the space station, took the unlit torch on a short space walk after it blasted off with three new ISS crewmembers from Kazakhstan last week. Olympic torches have cleared the Earth’s atmosphere before in 1996 and 2000, but the Sochi torch is the first to be taken into open space.

    Source: Al Jazeera

  3. New Audio from Air Force One After JFK’s Assassination Released

    In the wake of JFK’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963, officials scrambled newly sworn-in President Lyndon Johnson and Jackie Kennedy onto Air Force One. An 88-minute audio recording has emerged that recounts communication between staff on the plane and officials on the ground as they struggled to determine what happened and what to do next. While this piece of history provides more context for historians, it is also sure to fuel conspiracy theories. One audio forensic expert is “100 percent certain” the tape has been edited, but who did it and why are a fresh mystery.

    Source: USA Today

  4. Young Activist’s Book Banned from Pakistani Private Schools

    Education officials in Pakistan have banned teenage activist Malala Yousafzai’s new memoir, ”I am Malala,” from private schools across the country. Although the young woman has become an international inspiration, critics in her native Pakistan have accused her of representing Western interests and showing insufficient respect to Islam. Some have even suggested that Malala’s shooting by the Taliban was staged. Although it’s evident the determined teenager will continue her mission to promote education for girls around the world, it’s a tragedy that she is being presented as a traitor in her own country.

    Sources: Washington Post, USA Today


  5. Can Major League Soccer Survive in the U.S.?

    Major League Soccer marks its 18th anniversary this year, making it the longest pro soccer league in U.S. history. After the NFL and MLB, more fans attend MLS games than any other pro sport in America. But the big problem is quality. The league hasn’t landed the game’s top players, and teams underperform in regional competitions against Mexican teams. It seems eagerness to expand the league — which grew from 10 to 19 teams in nine years — diluted quality further. The biggest question may not be how to grow fans, but how the league will ever achieve parity with European football.

    Source: BBC