The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Parade Delights, China Visits Defense Zone, Nuke Watchdog Eyes North Korea

    Balloons delight at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. (New York Times).

    China sends warplanes to newly declared air defense zone. (CNNBBC).

    Nuclear reactor activity in North Korea concerns atomic watchdog. (The Guardian).

    Degas, Picasso, Cézanne works revealed as part of suspected Nazi art haul. (WSJ).

    World Cup stadium deaths put pressure on Brazil. (BBC).

  2. Winter Storm Disrupts Thanksgiving Travel, But Not Big Parade

    While not as bad as originally feared, a winter storm along the U.S. East Coast still wreaked plenty of havoc with Thanksgiving travel plans. A nasty combination of heavy rains, high winds and snow caused at least 11 deaths on the roads and delayed close to 500 flights. The worst is over, but high winds in many areas could still cause problems – luckily not for the giant helium balloons in Macy’s traditional parade in New York, which were given the all-clear. With 43 million Americans traveling this holiday, it appears that many families could have even more leftovers on Friday.

    Sources: CNN, Reuters, New York Times

  3. Turkey Myth Busted, Pecan Shortage Explained, and “Pardon” Probed

    Thanksgiving round up: Don’t blame tryptophan-laden turkey for that holiday lethargy. According to experts, consuming mass quantities of carbohydrates and alcohol will have far more to do with your post-meal snooze today than the much-maligned bird. Pecan-pie lovers may also be disappointed this year: a perfect storm of rainy weather, ravenous Texas pigs, and growing Chinese demand has raised pecan prices by about 30 percent. Finally, President Obama may have pardoned “Popcorn” yesterday, but as The Washington Post explains, the traditional presidential turkey pardon is neither traditional nor a pardon nor particularly presidential. Discuss.

    Sources: Livescience, NYT, Washington Post

  4. U.S. Jobs Go Up But Manufacturing Comes Down

    The U.S. job market is doing surprisingly well. According to the U.S. Labor Department, employers added 204,000 new jobs last month and unemployment claims have fallen to pre-recession levels. But, while the job market shows modest signs of recovery, manufacturing continues to slow because companies are investing less in “capital goods” such as equipment, appliances and other durable assets. Despite the stock market hitting record highs, it seems that other factors such as last month’s partial government shutdown are still keeping business confidence levels firmly in check.

    Sources: NPR, Reuters

  5. Latvia’s Prime Minister Resigns After Mall Tragedy

    Latvia’s longest-serving prime minister, Valdis Dombrovskis, has resigned after taking “political and moral responsibility” for the collapse of a supermarket that killed 54 people last week in Riga, the nation’s capital. The decision was unexpected since preliminary investigations had not shown any wrongdoing on his part and there was no public call for him to resign. The timing has also left most European leaders in shock since Latvia is scheduled to join the eurozone in January in large part due to Dombrovskis’s effective economic policies.

    Sources: NYT, Al Jazeera

  6. ICC Allows Defendants to Stand Trial Via Video Link

    The International Criminal Court is lifting the requirement that defendants appear in The Hague, allowing them to appear via video conference in the courtroom. Defendants who hold high office will also be permitted to skip parts of their trials altogether. This follows intense pressure from the African Union over the prosecution of Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, due to appear before the ICC in February for his part in the brutal dispute following Kenya’s 2007 election. The new rules are unlikely to do much to appease the AU, which has argued that sitting heads of government should be exempt from international prosecution.

    Sources: WSJ, Washington Post


  1. Is Thanksgiving the Last Non-Commercial American Holiday?

    Though it may be founded on the fiction of Pilgrims and Native Americans getting along, there’s evidence to suggest that Americans really do believe in the power of sharing with others on Thanksgiving. Food drives, soup kitchen volunteering and the spirit of sharing are still holiday traditions. As the costs of Christmas, Halloween and other more-commercial holidays costs are skyrocketing, Thanksgiving has remained —  for the moment at least — America’s last commercial-free holiday zone (despite Black Friday, of course). But with more retailers opening their doors on Turkey Day, and more shoppers leaving the hearth for the market, how much longer will it remain so?

    Sources: New Republic, Slate, The Atlantic

  2. Louis Vuitton Exhibit Ordered Off Red Square

    A giant Louis Vuitton suitcase, standing right next door to the Kremlin, has ignited rage in Moscow. The 30 by 100 foot trunk-shaped warehouse was designed to hold a temporary fashion exhibition, but hours after its completion workers were ordered to begin dismantling the structure, following public and political outcry. The historic square is the site of Lenin’s Mausoleum and many Muscovites consider it a sacred space. Less reverent Russians have suggested that the trunk should be recommissioned as a mausoleum for Putin.

    Source: NYT, USA Today

  3. U.S. Neighborhoods Increasingly Segregated Along Political Lines

    A recent study suggests that Democrats and Republicans flock to their own kind when looking for a place to live – and as Congress grows progressively divided, so do the suburbs. Americans are far more likely now to share their politics with their neighbors than just a decade ago. This is partly due to the decline of the housing market, which has made moving a more difficult, considered feat. But would-be nesters who consciously identify their reasons for moving as politically-motivated are also on the rise. Forget red and blue states – should we now be talking about red and blue neighborhoods?

    Source: NPR

  4. First U.S. Book Auctioned for Record $14.2 Million

    Two decades after pilgrims stepped off the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock in 1620, the Puritan leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony printed the Bay Psalm Book on a press fresh off the boat from England. It was the first book published in what would become the United States. One of the few remaining copies recently sold at auction for $14.2 million — millions more than any printed book has ever fetched. New owner, U.S. financier and philanthropist David Reubenstein, plans to loan the work out to libraries across the country.

    Sources: AP, The Guardian  

  5. Rory McIlroy: Rising Stress on Elite Athletes Taking its Toll

    The world’s former number one golfer sympathizes with English cricketer Jonathan Trott, who was forced to leave the Ashes Tour of Australia on Monday citing a stress-related condition. Rory McIlroy believes that “as sport becomes so big it’s becoming more common that these sorts of stress-related illnesses are happening.” The 24-year-old golfer has slipped to sixth in the world after a winless run in 2013, a year where he has felt media pressure both on and off the course. Finding some way to control external pressures may be the only means by which the former champ can climb out of the mental bunker in which he has landed.

    Sources: BBC, Reuters, The Guardian