The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Beheading Video May Change Game Plan in Iraq

    Video showing the beheading of American photojournalist James Foley by an Islamic State militant has been confirmed by U.S. officials. President Obama called the terrorist ideology a “cancer” and vowed to bring those responsible to justice. In the video Foley — missing since 2012 — pleads against U.S. intervention in Iraq. After the beheading, the executioner warns that Obama’s “next decision” will decide the fate of another kidnapped U.S. journalist. Targeting Americans may not be the group’s top priority now, “but there can be little doubt this is among its ambitions,” warns former CIA deputy director and OZY contributor John McLaughlin.

    USA TodayWashington PostOZY

  2. Gaza Attacks May Have Been Botched Assassination Attempt

    The wife and infant of Hamas’ top military commander, Mohammed Deif, died in what some believe was an Israeli attempt to kill him. Deif, long among Israel’s most wanted, is credited with designing Hamas’ Qassan rockets and leading the Islamist group’s military wing. The Israeli attack came after Gaza militants broke a cease-fire. Deif’s whereabouts remain unknown. By Wednesday morning, militants had fired more than 140 rockets into Israel. Cairo has tried to put together a peace deal, but the latest round of attacks offer little hope. 

    Haaretz, NYT, BBC

  3. Grand Jury Gears Up Over Teen’s Death

    Answers can’t come soon enough. A grand jury in St. Louis today begins probing the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown by a cop in the nearby suburb of Ferguson on Aug. 9. Witnesses have provided varying accounts of what happened on that fateful night. Meanwhile Tuesday’s evening protests started calmly, but ended with at least 47 arrests. And police fatally shot a knife-wielding young man just a few miles away — an incident some fear could further inflame protests, despite official statements that the rocked suburb has reached “a turning point.”

    NYTUSA TodayReuters

  4. Apple Shares Zoom to Record High

    The electronics and computing giant’s stock soared to an all-time high (considering splits) yesterday on winds of investor confidence in its new products. Shares rose 1.4 percent to $100.53, thanks to excitement over anticipated bigger-screen iPhones, with an estimated 200 million users anxious for a mother lode of upgrades. Analysts predict sales of the new iPhone — expected to hit the market next month — will dispel concern that the company can’t make ideas soar without Steve Jobs.

    BloombergFT (sub), CNNQuartz

  5. Argentina Suggests Anti-Default Debt Swap

    The South American republic is taking the wheel and proposing a voluntary debt swap aimed at skirting the U.S. court ruling that apparently drove it into default. Bondholders would receive replacement shares of equivalent value, but current trustee Bank of New York Mellon would be replaced by an Argentinian bank, allowing the government to service the debt at home. President Cristina Fernandez, who tearfully charged that American vultures had treated her country “unjustly,” is eager to steer Argentina in a new direction.

    ReutersWSJ (sub), FT (sub)


  1. Yoga Guru to the World Dies at 95

    If you ever held a downward dog, you have Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar to thank. The man who popularized yoga throughout the West died Wednesday in his native India. He was 95. Iyengar, a sickly child, discovered a talent for flexibility and a dedication to the craft of yoga as a teenager. A connection with Western violinist Yehudi Menuhin in the 1950s brought Iyengar to Europe, and introduced his practice around the world. He codified sutras into moves now practiced by millions about the world. “He was a one-person movement,” says his daughter. 

    BBC, NYT, The Hindu

  2. Sun-Wary Beach Bunnies Sport Facekinis

    Try to keep a straight face. The latest fad among Chinese women is neon mask “Facekinis” to protect their faces from sun damage while at the beach. The weird wear — hood-like swimsuit material with holes for the eyes, nose and mouth — may make women look like Pussy Riot wannabes, but one fashion magazine thinks the accessory could be a real hit. Those snarking on Weibo that it “looks like bank robbers are raiding the beach,” however, may need more convincing.

    The Telegraph

  3. Staff Petitions Air France to Cut Flights to Ebola Nations

    The deadly virus has suddenly become a labor issue. Some 700 Air France workers worried about contracting Ebola have petitioned the airline — which serves more West African destinations than any other major carrier — to stop flights to nations beset by the virus. Some staff have even refused to board flights. Health officials say spreading Ebola via air travel is unlikely, but with the deadliest outbreak having killed 1,145, some prefer not to fly in the face of danger.

    Mashable, Times of India

  4. Lifetime Film Explores Sitcom’s Teenage Angst

    A smash-hit show about teenagers rides on a barely controlled wave of hormonal angst — that’s the apparent message of Lifetime’s The Unauthorized Saved By the Bell Story. A trailer for the film, which airs on Labor Day, features off-set make out sessions and Dustin Diamond’s character punching a kid for calling him “Screech.” The original show only ran from 1989 to 1993, but the back-story of Bayside High is a gift that keeps on giving.

    Rolling StoneVultureCBS

  5. Mo’ne Becomes First Little League Cover Girl

    Throwing like a girl is a good thing. Mo’ne Davis wowed at the Little League World Series last week, pitching a two-hit shutout for her Philadelphia team, and is now the first little leaguer — boy or girl — to make the cover of Sports Illustrated. The only girl in a tournament dominated by 13-year-old boys, Davis reads batters like books and throws a 70 mph fastball. What’s even more impressive? Getting SI to admire a girl’s curves someplace other than at the beach.


  6. Yoga Keeps Older Brains Limber

    Striking a pose is good for muscles and brains, scientists say. Older Americans, ages 55 to 70, improved their information recall, mental flexibility and multitasking by practicing hatha yoga three times a week, according to new research. The control group did general toning exercises but showed little cognitive improvement. Researchers theorize that yoga’s breathing techniques may reduce stress, which could be key to boosting brain function. While the young tend to enjoy more yoga, it’s no stretch to say that over-50s should give it a try.


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