OZY is pleased to welcome noted journalist and TV anchor Gwen Ifill as guest curator of today’s Presidential Daily Brief. Says Ifill, “The best thing about my job is the constant stimulation. There is never any shortage of topics any given week, which is handy since my job every day at the PBS NewsHour and every Friday on Washington Week is to distill and explain.”
The Presidential Daily Brief
The sudden explosion of interest in the nearly month-old abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria has cast a harsh spotlight on a huge continent’s huge economy — but it is not the kind of spotlight its president, Goodluck Jonathan, had in mind. There are signs, though, that the outcry has drawn needed attention to a terrorist group other than al Qaeda. The U.S. Institute of Peace provides a handy explainer on Boko Haram. Meanwhile, a U.S. team of specialists is on the ground in Nigeria to help aid the search.
Source: United States Institute of Peace
No doubt the most important story of the week is the latest report on the real-time impact of climate change. The numbers and the evidence are stunning, but U.S. public opinion is lagging well behind the rest of the world. I learned a lot covering this and especially enjoyed the comments by one of the report’s authors, Gary Yohe, who said, ”What keeps me up at night is a persistence across the population not to recognize that the old normal climate is broken … and we don’t know what the new normal climate is going to be.”
As the chess game along Ukraine’s eastern border continues to unfold, U.S. diplomats don’t know what to believe. Does Russian President Vladimir Putin mean it when he makes conciliatory noises? Does it matter when President Obama strong-arms American businesspeople to stay away? My best source to keep track of who’s on first is always the New York Times’ Peter Baker, a regular Washington Week panelist who, more often than not, is a step ahead of the story. Stay tuned for Sunday’s planned referendum on autonomy by pro-Russian separatists.
In a not terribly surprising decision, the court sided 5 to 4 with a small town that was being sued for opening public meetings with mostly Christian prayers. The court had been edging in that direction for some time, but this latest narrowly decided conclusion had immediate impact, with the court essentially saying that as long as one isn’t forced to pray, it is permissible. By week’s end, a county council in rural Maryland had decided to revisit its earlier decision to allow only nonsectarian prayer.
Source: Caroll County Times
First Lady delivers weekly presidential address to mark Mother’s Day. (The Guardian).
Questions asked following shooting of Yemenis by American personnel. (NYT).
Mexico inducts former vigilantes into rural police force. (BBC).
White House goes solar. (Chicago Sun-Times).
Michael Sam becomes first openly gay NFL player. (ESPN).
Much of the world is watching for the latest on the abduction in Nigeria of more than 200 schoolgirls. But one of the more intriguing features of the story is the role played by social media. Not unlike the KONY2012 campaign, hashtag activism — #BringBackOurGirls — attracted a wide range of people to the cause, including first lady Michelle Obama. But there is a backlash developing as some people — many of them Nigerians — have come to resent the online commentary by people who know little else about the continent’s largest democracy.
I loved this story about Tim Scott, the South Carolina Republican who decided to volunteer at a Goodwill clearance center in Greenville, as part of what the Washington Post called “an unconventional listening tour.” Scott is one of the U.S. Senate’s only two black members, and he is the nation’s highest-ranking African-American Republican elected official. But he’s not outrageous or particularly outspoken, so he gets to hear what people really think. “You don’t necessarily need someone that’s black to teach black folks what’s possible,” he said. “But it does help to have someone like me be the tip of the arrow.”
Source: Washington Post
I found it kind of surprising that there are more unmarried mothers than ever before — 41 percent of all births in 2011, according to the Pew Research Center. But it was downright shocking to me that in that same year, 72 percent of births among black women were to single mothers. Pew’s “5 Facts about the Modern American Family” forever explodes the notion that we are a homogeneous nation of moms, pops and happily married straight people. We kind of knew that already, but it’s still bracing to see the numbers.
Source: Pew Research Center
I am drawn to the counterintuitive, so I found Washington Post editorial writer Charles Lane’s take on mass incarceration fascinating. To hear activists tell it, the number of people behind bars — especially men of color — is soaring. And recent Obama administration initiatives to allow inmates jailed for minor drug offenses to apply for early release are presented as part of the solution. Here’s what’s true: The prison population in the U.S. is larger than any other country’s. But it is also shrinking, and has been since 2009. Here’s another piece of counterintuition — it’s of the political sort. Remember the powerful Tea Party? It turns out Republican support for the ”Don’t Tread On Me” movement is dropping steadily. Gallup says only 41 percent of self-identified Republicans and Independents are Tea Partiers anymore — down from 61 percent in November 2010.
No, Jet magazine is not dying. It will continue to live online. But the experience of holding the little magazine in my hand, skimming past the dated centerfolds, skipping to the list of top black television shows, reading about the doings and undoings of African Americans with varying levels of notoriety — all while seated in a beauty salon or in an older relative’s living room? That’s gone forever. Remember, it was Jet that published a photo of Emmett Till’s corpse in 1955 and started a revolution.
Source: Maynard Institute