The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Rob Ford Loses Powers and Temper, Keeps Supporters

    What possible move can Toronto’s embattled mayor do next to further drop the jaws of global onlookers? This week saw the city council strip Ford of enough power to leave him as mayor in title only — an act he equated with Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. It’s hard to keep up with the steady stream of antics that are keeping late-night talk shows waist-deep in jokes. Even former President George W. Bush is laughing. But die-hard Ford supporters are staying strong. The latest? Ford’s fitness coach has been identified as a convicted steroid trafficker. Perhaps the beleaguered leader should look south to Florida Rep. Trey Radel for advice on how to act gracefully when you’ve hit rock bottom.

    Sources: National Post, USA TodayThe Guardian, New York Times

  2. Nuke Deal Reached With Iran, “Catching Fire” Ignites Box Office

    Deal reached with Iran, six world powers halts nuclear program. (New York Times).

    Climate talks in Warsaw end with last-minute compromise. (BBC).

    Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose injures right knee after left knee surgery. (ESPN).

    Alleged UK slaves had political collective connection to captors. (The Guardian).

    “Hunger Games” sequel “Catching Fire” burns up the box office. (USA Today).

  3. Retailers Pray While the Travel Industry Braces for Less

    Fewer Americans are expected to travel this Thanksgiving weekend, despite lower gas prices. Looking ahead, Christmas airfare has soared — folks looking for deals are likely too late. But retailers hope there’s enough cash going around for a solid shopping season, although analysts are concerned about the health of J.C. Penney and Toys R Us. Amazon, as usual, is the 800-pound gorilla of the holiday shopping season. Other stores are already offering preholiday sales, and Black Friday advertisements abound, but no one is sure what the fast-moving online behemoth has planned — or what the impact will be.

    Sources: Quartz, ForbesABCDaily Finance

  4. China Creates Air-Defense Zone Over Disputed Area in East China Sea

    China has established new airspace restrictions over a contentious area: land also claimed by Japan. These islands – Senkaku (to Japan) and Diaoyu (to China) – have been a source of tension for decades. Any non-commercial aircraft entering the zone must obey the new rules or risk facing “emergency defensive measures.” China says the new zone is about self-defense. Japan sees the move as an “escalation” and has lodged a protest. Watch this airspace.

    Sources: BBC, New York Times, The Guardian, Washington Post

  5. Child Labor: A More Common Practice Than You Think

    If you thought child labor was a thing of the past, think again. Recent reports show that the practice is far from extinct. In Bolivia alone, 850,000 children work full-time. Some are miners, going hundreds of feet underground to dig in hellish conditions. But there is no need to visit developing countries to see minors at work. In the U.S., children are legally allowed to work in the tobacco fields for hours on end, risking severe nicotine poisoning. How can a nation that bans underage smoking allow minors to work in a toxic environment? We don’t know, either.

    Sources: Vice, The Nation

  6. Natural Energy Source in the Philippines Suffers Setback

    It’s been almost two weeks since Typhoon Haiyan ripped across the Philippines, leaving behind unimaginable loss of life and livelihoods. But it also crippled something else: a key source of power. Geothermal operations have been producing five times as much energy as Leyte Island needs, with the surplus being sold to other islands. For a island known as “one of the world’s biggest success stories of renewable energy” and a nation with little contribution to global warming, losing this natural energy source would come as double blow. But there is hope.

    Source: New York Times


  1. Impact of Sochi’s Winter Games Leaves Locals Cold

    Putin seems determined to make the Sochi Olympics a win for his image, but he’s not earning any medals. Ignoring the advice of geological experts, he chose a construction plan that threatens to destroy a national park. Meanwhile, locals are being forcibly evicted and 16,000 migrant workers building the sites are being grossly underpaid. While the international community eyes Russia’s homophobic laws and the Games’ big price tag — $8 billion more than Beijing’s — local opposition groups worry mostly about what will happen to them when the celebration is over and the cameras go away. 

    Source: Outside, Human Rights Watch

  2. Stories From the Humanitarian Crisis Along the Syrian-Turkish Frontier

    If one person suffering is one too many, what are 9 million? While the world focuses on President Assad’s promise to relinquish his chemical arsenal, war happens one civilian tragedy at a time. A striking interactive feature from the Wall Street Journal tells stories not from the frontline but from the borderlands. In a Turkish refugee camp, a young teacher scrambles to help his students cope with trauma. Down the road, a doctor tries to heal hundreds of patients with neither electricity nor water, and, waiting for help, a mother of four laments, “What is the fault of little children?” 

    Source: Wall Street Journal

  3. Is the World Ready for Autopilot Automobiles?

    Things a computer won’t do while driving your car: settle disputes between squabbling kids in the backseat, floor the accelerator ”just to see how fast this car can go,” and apply makeup in the rearview mirror. Things a computer might do: malfunction. We’ve happily outsourced all kinds of traditionally human tasks to machines. But many of us are still wary of Google’s self-driving cars, despite their passing driving tests with scores that would put any teenager to shame. Google is hoping to take the system more broadly soon. No sci-fi style flying cars just yet, but it’s still impressive.

    Source: New Yorker

  4. Why Women Are So Quick to “Slut Shame” Each Other

    Both men and women engage in aggression toward their own sex. With women, it’s often indirect — behavior that often goes unnoticed and unpunished — and comprises everything from eye-rolling to meant-to-be-heard negative comments (which earn a high rating on the bitchiness scale). A recent study revealed a common tendency for woman to “haze” each other, especially for perceived promiscuousness. So why all the slut-shaming? Well, there’s more behind the female snark than meets the eye.

    Source: The Atlantic

  5. Who’s Behind the Innovative Bob Dylan Video

    The ingenious video for Bob Dylan’s anthem “Like a Rolling Stone” has become the latest viral sensation. The secret of its success is the use of an interactive technology that Dylan found “inspiring”; behind it is an Israeli startup called Interlude. Vania Heymann, the 27-year-old who directed the video, is now considered a guru of the Web scene and says “I’m using the medium of television to look back right at us. You’re flipping yourself to death with switching channels [in real life].” He has certainly succeeded in pulling many away from their TV screens … only to glue them to their computers. 

    Sources: Jerusalem Post, Broadway World