The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. SOTW: Tough Talk after Ottawa Attack

    Canada may implement stronger anti-terror laws after this week’s attack on the national parliament. A devout Muslim with a troubled past shot and killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, before entering the House of Commons and exchanging fire with security guards, two days after another soldier was killed in a hit-and-run, which some allege was an act of terror. Opposition leaders have advocated justice and the rule of law, but Stephen Harper’s government seeks greater state powers related to surveillance, detention and arrest.

    Globe and Mail,BBC, The Economist

  2. Coming Up: Halloween’s $7.4 Billion Treat

    The average American will cough up some $77 this ghoulish season, with spending up seven percent on costumes, candy and scary sundries, including a predicted nationwide outlay of $350 million on pet costumes. Retailers are celebrating a sales boost, since this year’s holiday falls on a Friday, just in time for big-spending weekend parties. Holiday spending predictions are already up by five percent over last year — and the “Halloween-Thanksgiving-Hanukkah-Christmas-New-Year” season is just getting under way. 

    ForbesUSA TodayThe Atlantic

  3. Can Hands-Free Tech Beat Ebola?

    Mali has recorded its first Ebola death and, according to a recent study, we may have no way of predicting how far the epidemic will go. The outbreak is spreading much faster than the typical mathematical model for epidemics predicts. But, having helped two patients to recover, Nebraska Medicine is helping to turn the tide with its cutting-edge hands-free approach, which uses extensive videoconferencing to minimize traffic through the patient isolation room and Bluetooth stethoscopes to reduce doctors’ exposure. If successful, the no-touch approach could spread throughout medical practice.


  4. Yazidis Leave German Haven to Fight in Iraq

    They came to Germany to escape persecution, but some are now returning to Iraq to fight ISIS. Yazidis, an ancient religious community concentrated in Iraqi Kurdistan, have been persecuted for centuries and now, according to the U.N., ISIS is attempting to eradicate them. Many Yazidi are fighting alongside the Kurdish peshmerga, while members of the diaspora in Germany — numbering at least 100,000 — support the fight with fundraising and online activism.

    Spiegel, Al Jazeera


  1. Do Body and Mind Really Age Together?

    Do you feel younger than you look? In 1981, a Harvard researcher put a group of septuagenarians in a house that looked straight out of 1959. The result? Regardless of physical disability, the participants behaved as they would have 22 years earlier and, after less than a week, displayed the physical characteristics of younger people — including improved vision. The radical experiment was recently replicated in a BBC documentary, so skeptics can see for themselves that aging may be simply another act of social conformity.


  2. Pro-Life Feminists Fight Abortion Assumptions

    Is it still a “war on women” if there are women fighting on both sides? The Susan B. Anthony List — a small but organized activist group created as a counterpoint to the powerful, pro-choice EMILY’s List — is making waves with its combination of feminism and pro-life ideology. Though controversial, they have $10 million to spend in this year’s elections and, by pushing the issue of “taxpayer-funded abortion,” they’re connecting abortion with Obamacare and pulling voters back into the debate.

    New Yorker

  3. Mormons Release Religious Underwear Guide

    Many Americans suspect that there’s more to Mormons than meets the eye. That’s why the LDS church has released a video aiming to demystify their oft-discussed underclothes, known as “temple garments.” The video explains that the garments — a subject of enduring fascination for non-Mormons — are worn by adults who have made faithful vows, similar to the yarmulke or nuns’ habits. It’s considered offensive to refer to temple garments as “magic underwear,” even if stories circulate within the church about the clothing’s protective powers.

    The Atlantic

  4. Stories from Beyond the Gender Binary

    Ivan Coyote is up there with the best of North American storytellers but speaks for a community that, until recently, hasn’t had a voice of its own. Coyote is a non-binary transgender poet who writes and performs about queer identity, from dressing beyond conventional gender roles to the butch-femme dynamic. Coyote’s stories aren’t always radical — one deals with the search for a cheap haircut — but many LGBT people find a sense of community in the award-winning author’s attention to the “everyday ordinary human business” of being queer.


  5. Deaf Pioneer Connects Kansas and Giants

    He couldn’t hear or speak, but that didn’t stop Kansas-born Luther “Dummy” Taylor from becoming a star pitcher with the San Francisco Giants. During Taylor’s playing days, from 1900 to 1908, many of his teammates learned American Sign Language, allowing them to enjoy his salty sense of humor, usually directed at unwitting umpires. Taylor helped the Giants to their first World Series but, perhaps more importantly, demonstrated that a hearing impairment doesn’t have to be a sporting impediment.