The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. GOP Sues Obama Administration Over ACA

    The Republicans have taken to the courts. They’re suing the secretaries of the Health and Human Services and Treasury Departments, respectively, over two Obamacare issues they claim are “abuses” of presidential authority. Republicans allege the White House illegally delayed the requirement that larger firms supply health coverage to all full-time employees. And they aren’t happy with subsidies guaranteed to insurance companies, some $175 billion worth. It’s too soon to tell how much legal standing they’ll have, but at least two attorneys dropped out of the case before the news broke.


  2. Global Finances Turn Up the Volume

    Good news in Asia and Europe boosted markets all over. Happy Friday, indeed. China’s central bank slashed interest rates, and the European Central Bank’s president said his firm was ready to enlarge the stimulus program. The moves mean that finance movers and shakers are willing to do whatever they need to support economies, and investors around the world responded in kind. The Down and S&P 500 hit new records, headed toward a possible fifth straight week of gains.

    WSJ, USA Today


  3. GOP Ticked Off Over Immigration

    He may not be a king or an emperor, but President Obama stands by his decision to use executive action to protect up to five million illegal immigrants from deportation. The plan, laid out Thursday night, has been slammed by Republicans, who are threatening everything from defunding the proposal, which they can’t do, to passing an immigration bill of their own, which they can. But unless Congress manages to pass legislation with uncharacteristic speed, we can expect immigration to be front and center in 2016.

    NYT, LA Times, The Guardian

  4. U.S. to Increase Military Aid to Ukraine

    On the anniversary of the first protests to break out in Kiev’s Maidan Square, Ukrainians are still struggling to make sense of their year of chaos. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, currently visiting Kiev, is expected to announce an increase in non-lethal military aid to the embattled country’s armed forces. But with new reports indicating that nearly 1,000 people have been killed in eastern Ukraine since September’s ceasefire, it’s not surprising that Senator John McCain is demanding that America offer lethal weapons instead.

    Reuters, Al Jazeera, BBC

  5. Japan Grapples With Economic Upheaval

    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has dissolved Japan’s lower house of parliament in the lead-up to a snap election expected to take place on December 14. With growing alarm over the sliding value of the yen and Japan’s unexpected lapse into recession, the election is being seen as a referendum on his “Abenomics” revival strategy. Weakening the currency was a key part of the plan, but with the dollar gaining by ten yen this month alone, the government now seems to be slamming on the brakes.

    Al Jazeera, WSJ

  6. Britain’s UKIP Gains Another Foothold

    In a major blow to David Cameron’s Conservative Party, the UK Independence Party has nabbed another parliamentary seat in a special election. Mark Reckless (yes, that’s his real name), who recently defected from the Tories, will now represent the constituency of Rochester and Strood as one of two UKIP MPs in Westminster. With a general election just six months away, UKIP’s leader claims his far-right, anti-EU, anti-immigration party is about to become the third largest player in parliament.

    BBC, WSJReuters

  7. Obama Extends Role in Afghanistan, Flood Risk Rises as Record Snowfall Melts

    Obama secretly extends U.S. military role in Afghanistan. (NYT)

    Snowbound areas brace for flooding as temperatures rise. (Bloomberg)

    Thousands protest in Mexico over student massacre. (Reuters)

    NSA: China cyber attack could take down U.S. power grid. (CNN)

    Alibaba sells $8 billion in bonds in market debut. (Businessweek)

    Michael Brown’s father calls for calm. (USA Today)


  1. The ‘Empress of Eccentricity’ Dances into the Night

    Europe may never again see the likes of the Duchess of Alba, who died Thursday at 88. The Spanish beauty outlived two husbands and widowed a third. She was a billionaire who held the Guinness World Record for more royal titles. Her eldest son Carlos inherits her post at the family foundation — along with dozens of titles. But María del Rosario Cayetana Alfonsa Victoria Eugenia Francisca Fitz-James Stuart y de Silva won’t be easy to follow.

    NYT, The Daily Mail

  2. Massive Pig Sizes Jeopardize Holiday Hams

    There can officially be too much of a good thing. Farmers have porked up their porkers in an effort to overcome stock losses after a virus killing piglets by the millions. But the hefty rooters now exceed the weight for the standard 7-pound, spiral cut hams key to many holiday dinners. Meanwhile demand has risen, and prices have hit records above $3 a pound. Start sourcing new recipes: holiday ham deals will be few.


  3. Marooned Musicians Cancel Shows

    When severe weather strikes, nobody thinks about the effect on indie rock bands. Interpol was forced to cancel two Canadian shows when their tour bus got stuck in the snow for two full days, during which they live-tweeted their ordeal in the frigid circle of hell once known as upstate New York. After more than 50 hours living on ramen, vodka and Starbursts — valiantly refraining from devouring their support band, Donner Party-style — they made it to a Buffalo hotel. Their next album may have a distinctly chilly, claustrophobic sound.

    AV Club

  4. Toymakers Accused of Sexism… Again

    It’s been a bad week in Barbie world. Mattel has pulled an “I Can Be a Computer Engineer” book from Amazon after screenwriter Pamela Ribbon blogged her discovery that Barbie actually needs male friends to do the engineering for her. It’s no wonder thousands have pre-ordered a crowd-sourced alternative to the uber-plastic, math-hating girl with famously unrealistic proportions. Lammily is like Barbie, but shorter, broader, brunette and equipped with a scars-zits-and-cellulite sticker kit.

    Tech Crunch, CNN

  5. Can Pistachios Fuel a City?

    All the power you need, in a nutshell. Turkey wants to use its huge pile of unused pistachio shells (it’s the world’s third-largest producer) as a power source. A new Turkish eco-city will ferment tons of pistachio shells in “digesters” and use the bio-gas to generate heat. The company that first suggested the idea estimates that the city — which will start construction in two years and will house 200,000 people — could generate 60 percent of its heat from the former waste product.


  6. Original Star Returns to “Hedwig”

    John Cameron Mitchell is back on Broadway. For eight weeks beginning in January, the actor will reprise his legendary turn as a transgender East German rock goddess suffering from a botched sex change. Mitchell says he has “much larger pumps to fill” after Neil Patrick Harris won a Tony Award in the titular role. Expect less physicality from the 51-year-old thespian, but the same searing comedic honesty that made Hedwig and the Angry Inch a cult favorite when he wrote it 15 years ago.

    NYT, Hollywood Reporter,

  7. Raiders Celebrate Overdue Win

    After a 16-game, 368-day skid, the Oakland Raiders have finally won. They clinched a 24-20 victory over the first-place Kansas City Chiefs with 1:42 on the clock. Rookie QB Derek Carr threw a nine-yard go-ahead pass to James Jones, capping an impressive 17-play, 80-yard drive, and giving the boys in silver and black their first win since November 17, 2013. It’s hard not to breathe a sigh of relief for the Raiders, who’ve waited so long for good news that they’ve apparently forgotten how to celebrate .