The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Story of the Week: Execution Presents Ethical Dilemmas

    The video of photojournalist James Foley’s beheading, published by the Islamic State this week, raised a string of tough ethical questions. Some have criticized the U.S. government’s refusal to pay militants a $132-million ransom for Foley’s freedom, while media outlets grappled with the implications of publishing the gruesome images. President Obama pledged to “see that justice is done” and launched fresh airstrikes against the extremists, despite warnings that another American would be killed if U.S. military operations continued in Iraq.

    CNN, The Guardian, CNBC, The Independent

  2. Coming Up: Appeals Court Hears Marriage Arguments

    The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear gay marriage arguments from Wisconsin and Indiana on Tuesday. Both states lifted marriage bans in June, but appeals were lodged and nuptials halted once again, a process replicated in Florida earlier this week. SCOTUS has hedged its bets so far — on Wednesday it overruled a federal appeals court that refused to delay the impact of its ruling in Virginia — but the justices will be greeted by a sheaf of new petitions when they return from recess in September.

    Human Rights Campaign, USA Today

  3. Anti-Semitism Resurges in Europe

    Germany’s leaders have expressed shock over anti-Semitic responses to Israel’s military activity in Gaza. But based on the data, they shouldn’t be surprised, nor are they alone. Recent statistics show that 26 percent of the global population holds anti-Semitic views, and Jewish people have recently been attacked in France, Belgium, the U.K. and elsewhere. In Europe, some have blamed growing Muslim populations for the trend, but the numbers don’t support that theory, pointing instead to the corrosive impacts of xenophobia, which affect Jews and Muslims alike.

    BBC, Haaretz, NYT, VICE

  4. Ferguson Protests Draw Global Derision

    The United States’ sparring partners — including Cuba, Russia, China, Egypt, Palestine and Mexico — have jumped at the opportunity to denounce alleged human rights abuses in Ferguson, Mo. Several news outlets cattily suggested that the U.S. should get its own house in order before judging other states. While resentful rivals are simply scoring cheap points, the Ferguson unrest has damaged the country’s credibility. The proof? Amnesty International has deployed human rights observers within the U.S. for the first time ever.

    LA TimesNYT, ABC, The Atlantic


  1. Red Carpet Extras Struggle to Shine

    Forget gender norms, it shouldn’t damage men’s egos to stand by their talented women. So argues Christopher Noxon, who, as husband to Orange Is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan, has plenty of experience as a red-faced red-carpet plus one. As many industries struggle to navigate a more gender-balanced world, lessons can be learned from Hollywood awards ceremonies, where men have been trailing their female partners for decades and learning the hard way that no one deserves to be treated as an accessory.

    The Atlantic

  2. Portugal’s Jamie Oliver Cooks Up a Storm

    Henrique Sá Pessoa is the newest star in the constellation of international celebrity chefs. This refreshingly humble and health-conscious chef is making waves in Portugal with his popular TV shows, best-selling cookbooks and Lisbon restaurants — from a trendy industrial-chic joint selling salmon hamburgers by the river to a minimalistic high-end restaurant offering mouthwatering strawberry gazpacho and mussel risotto. At 37, Pessoa has lived in the U.S., the U.K. and Australia and is determined to show that there’s much more to Portuguese cuisine than cod and sardines.


  3. Global Unrest Is Hurting Hedge Funds

    Hedge fund executives in London have seen their earnings plummet by as much as 55 percent since 2012, according to new figures. This reflects a decline in industry returns, driven by crises in Ukraine and Iraq. As major funds exercise caution, scrambling to protect their portfolios against the faltering equities and slumping bond prices that typically accompany global unrest, employees are feeling the pressure. But don’t start sending care packages just yet — London’s top dogs still earn over $750,000 in bonuses alone.

    Quartz, WSJ (sub)

  4. ‘Shake It Off’ Released to Fanfare and Controversy

    Taylor Swift seems to have shaken her country roots right off in favor of mainstream stardom. Music critics are already calling her latest single one of the most infectious tunes of the year, but old fans who expected a bit more of the girl with a guitar and a bit less of Swedish mega-producer Max Martin may be disappointed. The song’s video has also sparked accusations of cultural appropriation and black exploitation. Taylor hasn’t simply gone pop — she’s gone positively Miley.

    Rolling Stone, USA Today, New Yorker, Daily Beast

  5. Tennis Legends Underwhelmed by Today’s Game

    Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert were the Venus and Serena of their day, top-notch female players who balanced a warm personal relationship with a fierce on-court rivalry. The two remained friends and even doubles partners as they traded Grand Slams, though Navratilova, the originator of today’s power-hitting game, eventually got the upper hand, with 43 titles to Evert’s 37. Looking ahead to next week’s U.S. Open, Evert seems underwhelmed by the women’s game, claiming that most players lack “that eye-of-the-tiger intensity.”