The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Single Switch Saved the U.S. From Atomic Bomb Detonation in 1961

    A chilling report, published by the Guardian today, shows just how close the U.S. came to nuclear catastrophe in 1961. The document, newly declassified by the Freedom of Information Act, reveals that an atom bomb – 260 times more powerful than the bombs that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki – nearly exploded over Goldsboro, North Carolina on January 23, 1961. What prevented the detonation? A single switch. Let that thought rest a moment. Had the bomb gone off, the fallout would have jeopardized millions of lives. As the author of the 1969 report sums it up: “It would have been bad news – in spades.” Bad news indeed.

    Sources: The Guardian; BBC; USA Today

  2. Gun Debate in Wake of Navy Yard Tragedy

    Mental health has once again entered the gun debate in the aftermath of Monday’s mass shooting in the Washington Navy Yard that left 13 people dead. In the days following the tragedy, questions surfaced about the mental stability of alleged shooting suspect Aaron Alexis. He carried a history of agitated behavior and even told authorities last month that he was “hearing voices” through hotel walls. This latest event begs the question: Should potentially dangerous people be kept away from dangerous weapons? As the New York Times points out, this is one place where Democrats, Republicans and even the NRA can meet on common ground. Can yet another mass shooting – this time in Obama’s backyard – be the pivotal event that brings all parties to the table to talk gun control? Not likely, says the L.A. Times.

    Sources: USA TodayWSJ, CBS


  3. Modern Amenities a World Away Bankroll Unspeakable African Violence 

    Forget gold. Valuable minerals that power our PCs fuel a dangerous game in the Congo, where mines turn day into night and up into down, and robber barons collude with government agents to steal their piece of the action. After decades as one of the planet’s most lawless stretches, can international efforts, from openness among international corporations to U.N. intervention, save the Congo? Probably not.

    Source: National Geographic

  4. How Detroit Really Went Broke (Hint: It’s Not Just the 00s)

    A deep dive into the Motor City’s troubled finances shows that it’s not just one thing – or one mayor – that lead to the downfall of a once-great American empire. Decades of mismanagement and debt, including questionable support of the car industry and a refusal to cut pensions, contributed to the city’s dire straits. The saddest part might be the many missed opportunities to right the sinking municipal ship, which now falls to a governor-appointed D.C. attorney. What does this mean for the future? Some see a silver lining: It can only get better. 

    Source: Detroit Free Press

  5. Troubling Glimpse at Pacific Ocean’s Future

    A must-see report by the Seattle Times and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting offers an ominous look at how ocean acidification — the lesser-known corollary to climate change — is threatening to “scramble marine life on a scale almost too big to fathom.” Changes that scientists thought were still decades away are already happening in parts of the Pacific, disrupting the food chain and driving family-owned seafood businesses to drastic measures. And this isn’t just a regional concern — as the Times points out, at least a billion people around the world get most of their protein from the sea.

    Source: Seattle Times

  6. Welcome To Your Weekend’s Best Reads

    It’s the weekend: time to ease it back a little and settle in for some good reads. The OZY Camp David Edition has you covered this Saturday and Sunday. It’s still like your daily Presidential Daily Brief: a one-stop summary of the week’s best stories and what you need to know about them. But there are also some extra treats and additions as news happens. Think of it as the brunch you’ve been looking forward to all week, with juicy reads and meaty features. So grab an espresso and tuck into your sweet CDE.


  1. Filmmaker Follows Two Syrians Fighting Their Own Wars

    Nour, 25, a rising photographic star for Reuters and NPR, risks her life documenting the frontlines to stand testament to the Syria’s war-torn populace. If she’s going to die, she’d rather do so trying to bring attention to the war then being bombed doing domestic chores. “Why should I die cheap,” she asks. Meanwhile Mowya, a fighter, wonders if filming stray kittens might help Americans finally wake up to the carnage. The video, by an American rebel sympathizer who drew controversy in Libya, is a haunting (and violent) portrayal of life on the ground.

    Source: The Guardian

  2. Why We May Someday Ask, ‘Where’d You Grow That Jacket?’

    As the world continues wrestling with the idea of 3D-printed meat and human tissue, Andras Forgacs suggests we get serious about another huge opportunity for biofabrication: leather. For one thing, it’s pretty easy to grow in a lab, since it mostly consists of one cell type. But more importantly in his view, it would create a more efficient and humane form of manufacturing. Not to mention that lab leather can be grown right into the shape of a wallet or handbag. (Creepy? Cool? Kinda both.)

    Source: TED

  3. Mock Stars Rule the Myanmar Airwaves. Intellectual Property? What’s That? 

    So-called “copy track” musicians create national sensations by pairing Western songs with Burmese words, and almost no one in the audience knows the songs are knock-offs. Myanmar is so isolated, songs that were mega-international hits never made it there, so even a Titanic Celine Dion rip-off sounds fresh. And with far bigger problems than a jewelry store co-opting Bon Jovi (a must-see clip), there’s no legal impetous to stop. 

    Source: GlobalPost

  4. California ‘Rosie’ Is Still Riveting at 93

    In 1942, Elinor Otto walked into a Rohr Aircraft factory with her two sisters to join the war effort. Seven decades later, she’s in another town, another factory, but still working the assembly line — and showing up many of her younger colleagues. Along the way she weathered layoffs and hard times but also became something of a local legend for her role in World War II. Now, with operations winding down at the Boeing C-17 plant where she works, the biggest question is: what’s next?

    Source: L.A. Times