The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Pentagon Launches Reconnaissance Flights in Syria

    Bashar al-Assad must be smirking as he waits by the phone. The U.S. is launching surveillance flights over Syria to track Islamic State militants with drones and possibly U2 spy planes. Calls are rife to follow up with airstrikes in Syria, but Obama is loath to aid Assad’s regime. The U.S. may hedge its bets and order cross-border hits from within Iraq, but Syria says uncoordinated airstrikes are acts of aggression. Assad’s people have encouraged Obama to ring.


  2. Michael Brown’s Funeral Sparks Calls for Change

    Among the tears and hugs, celebrities, politicians and friends poured out to remember Michael Brown at his funeral in St. Louis yesterday, expressing anger and sadness while calling for justice. “There is a cry … not just for Michael Brown, but for the Trayvon Martins, for those children at Sandy Hook Elementary School,” said Brown’s uncle. In his eulogy, Rev. Al Sharpton criticized a system that equips police with military equipment but doesn’t have the money for public education.

    PoliticoWashington PostLA TimesWGN-TV

  3. Kiev Accuses Russia of Incursion Ahead of Talks

    They’re still not playing nice. Ukrainian leaders charged that Russia invaded Ukraine with armored vehicles disguised as a separatist operation, which Moscow denied. Today’s scheduled talks in Minsk between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Vladimir Putin could be in jeopardy. How can Europe ensure Russia backs off? Perhaps, as OZY’s Emily Cadei contends, it’s time for Germany to “re-evaluate not just its relationship with Moscow, but also its comfort level with a bigger military role in NATO.” 


  4. Amazon Snatches Up Video Site for Nearly $1B

    The online shopping giant’s got game. Video game play has become such a popular spectator sport that Amazon’s forking over $970 million to buy Twitch Interactive, a service that lets users watch and broadcast video game play. Some 55 million people tuned into the San Francisco-based Twitch last month to watch “billions of minutes” of playtime — a potentially attractive platform for Amazon advertising. Google and other aspiring Twitch suitors must now simply watch how the game is played.

    CNN MoneyTime


  1. ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘Sherlock’ Dominate Emmys

    It ends on a high. The twisted TV drug saga Breaking Bad cooked up a final batch of awards last night, winning best drama series, supporting actor, supporting actress and lead actor, the latter for Bryan Cranston’s riveting portrayal of a chemistry teacher turned killer-methamphetamine dealer. It wasn’t all Bad : Crime-solving Sherlock nabbed seven awards to lead the night, Julianna Marguiles won outstanding lead actress for The Good Wife and Modern Family claimed the award for best comedy series to tie Frasier’s record.

    CNN, NPR

  2. Austrian Political Garden Gnomes Go Missing

    Can they find the dirt on who took these bearded fellas? Austria’s Socialist Party has informed police of the disappearance of 400 of its garden gnomes, hung 10 feet high from lamp posts holding political placards. If they’re following tradition, the dwarfs — worth $4,000 — have magically transplanted themselves. But politicians suspect dirty tricks, and they’re twitching their green thumbs at the conservative People’s Party, whose signs appeared in place of the statuettes. Finding the truth will require digging deep.

    Global NewsThe Arizona Republic

  3. Why Do Earthquakes Create Great Wine?

    Recovering from quake jitters is easier with a top-notch red. Seismic activity, like Sunday’s temblor, disadvantages Bay Area residents in many — and sometimes deadly — ways, but those forces have also created Napa Valley’s winemaking environment. Napa’s vineyards, located near the San Andreas fault, benefit from highly diverse soils and an ideal climate thanks to millions of years of tectonic grinding and shaping. Picasso had it right: Creation springs from destruction, and Northern California is steeped in both.


  4. Nail Polish Could Finger Date-Rapists

    Prepare to get nailed, would-be rapists. Students at the North Carolina State University have developed a fingernail polish that serves as a litmus test for date-rape drugs in drinks. A fingertip can be dipped into a beverage, and the Undercover Colors nail polish changes color if it comes into contact with any of three common date-rape drugs. Students, who bill their operation as the “first fashion company empowering women to prevent sexual assault,” have already raised $100,000 for further finger-pointing research. 


  5. Bees and Giggles No Match for Venus

    Stinging distractions can’t faze the “other Williams.” Her tough first opponent in the U.S. Open, Kimiko Date-Krumm, drew laughter when reduced to flailing at a bee. Venus, 34, who has contended with illness and years on the lower rungs of the rankings, faced her own menace early on: She lost the first set. But the two-time U.S. Open champ quickly took control, later wooing the bee onto her racket before proceeding to deliver her own winning sting.

    NYT, Washington Post, CBS