The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Hostage’s Mom Begs Islamists for Son’s Release 

    She could rely on diplomacy or ask brutal killers for mercy. Heartsick Miami mom Shirley Sotloff opted to plead for her son Steven’s life in a video directed at Islamic State’s head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. “I ask you to use your authority to spare his life,” she said, playing to the “caliph’s” ego in what terror experts have called a brilliant move. The IS executioner of James Foley threatened to kill Steven Sotloff if the U.S. didn’t halt airstrikes in Iraq.

    TimeNBC, AP

  2. Recreational Shooting Death Sparks Uproar

    An Uzi is no toy, so why put one in a child’s hands? The accidental killing of weapons instructor Charles Vacca by a nine-year-old visitor with an Uzi has refueled America’s gun-control debate. The New Jersey girl was on vacation in Arizona with her family when she lost control of the gun at the Last Stop firing range. Some gun owners defended the practice of letting children use such weapons, but many expressed horror that it could be deemed legal, let alone acceptable.


  3. Russia Eyed in Hacking Probe and Ukraine ‘Deployment’

    Moscow may be fighting on two fronts. As Kiev accuses Russia deploying troops into Ukraine to support rebel attacks, the FBI is investigating a major hack attack on JPMorgan and another American bank emanating from Russia. Gigabytes of sensitive data were stolen earlier this month shortly after new sanctions were levied against Russia, and the sophistication of the attack has led authorities to look into possible Kremlin involvement. Determining responsibility, however, should be far easier on the temporal battlefield.    

    BloombergThe GuardianBBCCNN Money

  4. U.S. Companies Stashing Over $500B Offshore

    Who’s the king of tax avoidance? It may be one of seven American firms that have parked more than $500 billion in overseas profits in foreign banks. As long as the companies don’t bring the money home to reinvest in the business, they don’t have to pay Uncle Sam. Apple wins the title with $111 billion sitting overseas, with the heir apparent being General Electric at $110 billion, followed by Microsoft, Pfizer, Merck, IBM and Johnson & Johnson. Wearing a crown, however, probably won’t elicit respect from the taxpaying masses.



  1. Brangelina Make It Official in France

    Paparazzi, commence your swoon. The highest profile couple in the known universe has finally tied the knot. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie formalized their bond at the remote 1,000-acre French wine-producing estate they own, Chateau Miraval (their rosé, we hear, is amazing). Their six kids, ages 6 to 13, attended the ceremony. Their next project: playing a married couple (gee, that’s a stretch) in a film helmed by the newly minted missus. Word has it they have some super steamy scenes. We’ll just leave that there.  

    ABC News, Us Weekly

  2. Zara Backtracks Over ‘Holocaust’ Faux Pas

    Marketing 101 lesson: Just don’t. The Spanish clothing giant has pulled a “Sheriff” motif shirt from its children’s line following observations that it resembled the striped uniforms worn by Jews in the Holocaust, complete with a yellow, six-pointed Star of David. Zara representatives apologized profusely and discontinued the product. Critics say the firm’s rapid concept-to-consumer production system is to blame for the blunder, as well as a similarly horrifying swastika-embroidered handbag in 2007.

    Fast Company+972Fortune

  3. Scientists Flip Mouse Memories From Mad to Glad

    Going to your happy place may soon be a breeze. Researchers have manipulated mouse brain circuits to switch bad memories into good ones. The method used, optogenetics, manipulates modified neurons with light and “is revolutionizing research on brain activity,” helping to “establish causal links between brain circuitry and disease symptoms, which could lead to highly targeted, effective therapies,” says OZY’s Melissa Pandika. Scientists have already used optogenetics to induce and relieve OCD- and Parkinson’s-like symptoms, seizures and addiction in animal models.


  4. Peace-Making Gamers Take on Middle East Conflict 

    Think you could give Bibi Netanyahu a run for his money? It’s easy to judge from afar, but a newly redesigned-for-mobile game asks players to face up to the complexities and frustrations of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Peacemaker” allows gamers to play as either the Israeli prime minister or president of the Palestinian Authority, with the goal of achieving a peaceful two-state solution. It may seem to trivialize a serious conflict, but the creators aim to encourage empathy and compromise.

    Mother Jones

  5. Polygamy Decriminalized in ‘Sister Wives’ Suit

    The reality TV-starring family convinced a Utah judge to strike down part of the state’s anti-bigamy law as unconstitutional. A federal judge affirmed the law banning multiple marriage licenses in a single family, but nixed the felony prohibition on shacking up with a non-spouse, ruling that Kody Brown and his four wives’ rights to free speech, religion and equal protection were violated. But the state isn’t feeling the love and plans to appeal.

    Salt Lake TribuneIBT

  6. NFL Spares Rod for Violence, Not Gordon’s Pot

    Has someone in the league been smoking something? On Wednesday, it approved a year’s suspension for Pro Bowler Josh Gordon for testing one nanogram over the league’s marijuana threshold. The wide receiver, whose absence hurts Cleveland’s offense, claims it was ambient smoke. Considering that Baltimore running back Ray Rice got a two-game suspension this summer for dragging his unconscious fiancée from a Las Vegas elevator, it seems that pro football’s zero tolerance is limited to one kind of abuse.