The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Story of the Week: Uncertainty Looms in Iraq, Syria

    He had to start somewhere. Obama has come up with a plan to quash Islamic State militants — namely by launching more airstrikes and sending ground troops to help train and equip Iraqi troops. Former Deputy CIA Director and OZY contributor John McLaughlin agrees that attacks are a good place to start. But he warns of the need for a comprehensive U.S. strategy, as well as flexibility, to help ensure success. The only “certainty we can cling to is that we are entering a period of great uncertainty,” McLaughlin warns.


  2. Coming Up: Scots’ Vote Inspiring Splits Elsewhere

    Scotland’s independence movement is breaking unprecedented ground as Britain’s leaders — except for the Queen — are finally urging a divided electorate to keep the kingdom united. But the resonance of an amicable split would go far beyond the English Channel. From Quebec to Kurdistan, the rest of the world is watching closely to see if the tartan trailblazers could beat a path for other national breakups. And with progressive Scots no longer in London, conservatives might tilt Britain right out of Europe. 


  3. Will Ray Rice Video Bring Change to the NFL? 

    Roger Goodell is rolling with the punches. Many wonder whether the NFL chief saw a video of Ray Rice knocking out his fiancée before this week, and the league’s answer was to hire a former FBI director to investigate. But many support Goodell, including owners and a major advertiser, and the stage is set for a battle over his future. If domestic-violence victims’ advocates can put enough pressure on sponsors, however, the commissioner might find his line can’t stop the blitz. 

    New RepublicCNN, Globe and Mail

  4. Sub-Saharan Economic Growth Has a Chance

    For two decades, African economies have been growing, but a lack of hard data makes it difficult to know whether the trend is sustainable. Some fear the effects of Ebola, others the possibility that growth might decline with resources, as it did after the 1960s independence wave. But unlike then, sub-Saharan nations are not so propped up by protectionism, and the region’s financial policies are in better shape. That, plus more democracy and less conflict give the endangered African optimist a fighting chance for survival.

    FT (sub)


  1. How Boxing’s Superstar Became His Own Business

    Floyd Mayweather Jr. — who handily beat Marcos Maidana last night — is the world’s highest-paid athlete, but not simply because he’s the king in the ring. He’s also the de facto CEO and marketing VP of boxing. Expected to bank $105 million this year, he organizes his fights, selects his opponents, determines camera angles and negotiates pay-per-view deals. He even tracks hot dog concessions. The champ has set an impressive standard for other fighters, making it impossible for some fast-talking promoter to leave him on the ropes.

    Bleacher Report

  2. Sex Crime a Hazard of Alaskan Wilderness

    America’s worst sexual violence epidemic is located in one of its least populous states: Alaska. Rapes are triple the national average, more for underage victims. Many factors are to blame, not least that remote communities are hard to police, and prevalent rural industries like oil are male-dominated. But even cities share the problem that victims claim is a cultural phenomenon. Their advocates say it’s an uphill struggle, but they are starting to loosen the grip of alcoholism and silence that fuel this cycle of shame.

    The Atlantic

  3. Online Activism That Dares Not Speak Its Name

    With the evolution of the Internet has come the emergence of “hacktivists” — loosely organized online cells fighting for causes the world over. From assisting Arab Spring revolutionaries to tracking the policeman who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, members of “Anonymous” have made names for themselves, so to speak. Their shadowy nature, however, means the group cannot curb members’ excesses, which have drawn the scrutiny of government agencies. Now at least one self-proclaimed Anonymous leader is on the run, hoping to join Edward Snowden in exile.

    New Yorker

  4. America’s Darkest Hour in a New Light

    Why memorialize terrible events? “Memorials are the way people make promises to the future about the past,” says the director of the museum that stands where the Twin Towers once loomed. The National September 11 Memorial Museum just marked its first 9/11 anniversary. The subterranean work of living history is also the final resting place for many victims of the 2001 attack. Heavy on sound, including emergency radio broadcasts and victims’ last voice messages, it documents that dark moment while reflecting the rebirth that followed.


  5. Rain Forest Protector Predicted His Violent End

    Edwin Chota Valero said that for tribal defenders of the rain forests of the Peruvian Amazon, the “only law here is the law of the gun.” His enemies confirmed that on September 1, when he and three other community leaders were ambushed and murdered, their bodies lost in the forest they loved. The Ashéninka indigenous leader fought loggers and drug traffickers alike, and kinsmen said they’d continue his struggle. One forest resident, Ergilia López, vowed to “keep fighting till the end, until they kill me too.”

    National Geographic