The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Story of the Week: The Virus We All Fear

    It isn’t clear how far Ebola may have spread in the U.S., but fear of the deadly virus has swept the nation. You can’t contract it from the air, and you can’t catch it from someone who isn’t visibly ill. But after 4,000 deaths in Africa, one in the U.S., and cases — or possible cases — surfacing in Texas, Oklahoma and Wisconsin, it’s easy to see why health workers and airport cleaners are up in arms.

    Rolling Stone, Reuters, Washington Post, CBS Houston/AP

  2. Coming Up: ‘Blade Runner’ to Be Sentenced

    After one of the decade’s most sensational trials, Paralympian Oscar Pistorius will finally be sentenced on Monday. The decision will be issued by a South African judge who last month found the runner guilty in the culpable homicide of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Widely decried as lenient, the verdict means the most Pistorius can get is 15 years’ imprisonment. In the wake of that media circus, a new trial of a British businessman charged with killing his wife on their South African honeymoon is already drawing comparisons.

    IndependentBBC, The Guardian

  3. How Obama’s Style Slowed Islamic State Policy

    After seven years of warfare, he took office with promises of bringing the troops home from Iraq. As that goal was realized, the White House implemented an increasingly cautious foreign policy, orchestrated by an unprecedented 370 National Security Council staffers. Some observers believe the centralization of policy advice and decision-making often excluded or ignored the State Department and Pentagon, dismissing proposals that may have tackled the Syrian crisis before it became too big to ignore.


  4. Hackers Are Targeting the Grid

    Data breaches often make headlines these days, but newspapers rarely pin down the heart of the matter. Hackers are growing more sophisticated by the day. Last year, Germany’s national aeronautics and space research center had evidence that hackers linked to the Chinese army had breached their high-level security. Without concrete proof, there was nothing to be done, but such mysterious and insidious attacks demonstrate the vulnerability of critical infrastructure. Big data and increasing digitalization mean more of society is at risk every year.



  1. Taking Off the Gloves in the War on Mosquitoes

    Faced with more than 600,000 deaths a year from malaria, scientists and their philanthropic backers have set their sights on the lowly mosquito. Researchers are trying to confound the insects before they pass on the malaria parasite. It’s still early, of course, but a new crop of inventions, funded by the Gates Foundation, include light curtains that disturb mosquitoes’ nervous systems, a human-scented cologne that will make them suck cows’ blood instead of yours and glow-in-the-dark parasites — more than a step above the bed nets of yore.


  2. Drones Add Spin to the Skies Above

    They’re remotely piloted killers stalking the skies over Pakistan and Yemen, blasting perceived threats. But they’re also cute, insect-like toys flying around your neighborhood to the delight of children. There are more than 1,500 types of drones, used by hobbyists, vigilantes, filmmakers and others who are taking to the skies to experience superhero apotheoses or just do a hitherto impossible job. The technologies involved get cheaper every year, and the applications are seemingly limitless — something regulators would like to correct.

    NY Magazine

  3. Microsoft Comes Out of Safe Mode

    His innovative spirit has already won fans and a huge stock boost, but CEO Satya Nadella has to live down comparisons to IBM if the software giant is to maintain its vitality. Gone are worries that MS is taking over the world, replaced by talk of the giant’s mortality. So Bill Gates is back at the workstation, and he and Nadella are talking reinvention. The question is, when does Gates’s experience — like Microsoft itself — stop being relevant in this new technological age?

    Vanity Fair

  4. Dungeons, Dragons and Porn, Oh Boy

    Zak Smith is enjoying “a 15-year-old boy’s dream of adulthood.” He’s alt-porn star Zak Sabbath and gets to play Dungeons & Dragons with sultry sex partners. He’s also the toast of mainstream galleries that lust after his paintings depicting sleazy American subcultures. But it’s his gaming that’s most likely to invade your basement. As a recognized D & D master, he has worked as a consultant on a gritty new edition of the classic game, happily twisting our notions of adult fun.


  5. They’re Not Rich, but They’re Baseball Gold

    The St. Louis Cardinals are again headed to the National League Championships with a classic success story. As they face off against the Giants this weekend, the Cardinals have earned a better record with a far more frugal budget. Smart transactions and miracle signings have studded the Cardinals’ dugout. And their total payroll is over $100 million less than the Yankees and Dodgers, both at home licking their wounds. Careful money-managing and an eye for unsung talent are taking these diamonds out of the rough.

    NY Post