The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. World Bank Begs for Medical Volunteers

    Some 5,000 health workers are needed to combat the Ebola outbreak, World Bank leaders said Tuesday, adding that travel bans have hurt recruiting efforts. Tell that to New York and New Jersey, where debate rages over whether to forcibly quarantine those returning from West Africa. The CDC says people who have had direct contact with Ebola should stay home for 21 days and be “intensively monitored.” Meanwhile, Dallas nurse Amber Vinson was released from Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital after being declared virus-free.

    NYT, WSJ (sub), Yahoo, BBC

  2. Toronto Ushers Out ’Ford Nation’

    The Ford era is over — for now. In mayoral elections on Monday, Toronto picked the calm John Tory, who promised “sensible” governance over the shenanigans of his crack-smoking predecessor, Rob Ford. Despite Tory’s surprisingly thin victory over Doug Ford — who got on the ballot after his brother’s cancer diagnosis — Rob Ford easily won back his city council seat. To a chorus of boos, the former mayor said he was just “warming up” for another fight in 2018.

    Toronto StarToronto Sun

  3. U.S. Hired Ex-Nazis as Cold War Spies

    How’s this for a Cold War chill? American intelligence agencies recruited more than a thousand former Nazis — including high-ranking officers and known war criminals — to spy against Russia. Many were later allowed refuge in the U.S. and even afforded protection against the Justice Department’s own Nazi hunters. At the height of 1950s Cold War paranoia, J. Edgar Hoover and other top U.S. officials believed the recruits’ value against the threat of communism outweighed their “moral lapses” with the Third Reich.

    NYT, BBC

  4. Britain Rejects $2.7 Billion EU Bill

    British Prime Minister David Cameron has said “no” to a nearly $3 billion invoice from Brussels. Backbenchers cheered as their leader told parliament that the bill — which stems from a revision of the UK’s gross national income from 2002-2013 — was too big and needed to be carefully scrutinized. The huge tab puts Cameron in an awkward position, with Britain’s relationship with the bloc already under strain, and his stark response may threaten the $4.7 billion rebate he’s been seeking from Brussels.

    FT (sub), The TelegraphThe Guardian

  5. France Agrees to EU Budget Demands 

    The French have retreated. They’re caving to pressure to produce a sounder financial package and agreeing to shave an additional $4.6 billion from next year’s budget deficit. The bloc’s second-largest economy made the concession just ahead of Brussels’ decision on whether to reject the country’s draft budget. France had vowed not to reduce its deficit by more than three percent of its GDP in 2015, but the Socialist government waffled in the face of low inflation and sluggish economic growth.

    FT (sub), WSJ (sub)

  6. ISIS Hostage ‘Reports’ From Kobane

    In a new video, John Cantlie purports to be speaking from the Syrian border town, which he claims is falling under control of the Islamic extremists, contrary to independent reports. The five-minute clip is the latest sighting of the British journalist, who was kidnapped in 2012. “Now the battle for Kobane is coming to an end,” says Cantlie, speaking outdoors as if he’s a war correspondent. The video comes just days after the death of his 80-year-old father from complications of pneumonia. 

    The Guardian, CNNBBC

  7. Unmanned NASA Rocket Explodes, Potential Ebola Patient Shows Up in Baltimore

    Unmanned rocket bound for International Space Station explodes at liftoff. (NYT)

    Nusra Front militants attack Syrian city of Idlib. (BBC)

    Baltimore hospital admits and isolates possible Ebola patient. (Baltimore Sun)

    European stocks strengthen ahead of Fed meeting. (FT) sub

    New mass grave located in Mexican search for missing students. (LA Times)

    Families in Peru receive Dirty War victims’ remains. (AP) 


  1. Scientists Track Ebola to a Guinea Toddler

    His name was Emile Ouamouno, age 2. He died Dec. 6. Experts from The New England Journal of Medicine believe he contracted Ebola and passed it to his family, though they don’t know how he caught it. A local midwife passed it to her family and sought treatment in a hospital where a doctor contracted the disease. Emile’s village appears to be disease-free now, but the toll remains: people ostracized and household goods burned out of fear. “We are even poorer,” says the village chief.


  2. Lava, Looters Close in on Hawaiian Town

    They’re playing with fire. Looters are reportedly targeting abandoned homes as lava up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit edges closer to the Hawaiian town of Pahoa. The path of the searing liquid from the still-erupting Kilauea volcano has raised fears that the small town could be wiped away. Most residents have already fled, and the lava — currently 70 yards from one home — is expected to hit later today.

    The Atlantic, CNN

  3. China Goes on Holiday to Cut Smog

    Time to get out of Dodge. Beijing officials are instituting a sudden week-long break, shutting schools and factories, and urging citizens to take a hike. The “holiday” is a bid to clear the dirty air before November’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Shutting down will stall productivity, but China doesn’t want a repeat of days earlier this month when smog levels were 16 times higher than World Health Organization guidelines — especially with heads of state like President Obama there to breathe it in.


  4. Australian Plan Deemed Insufficient

    It’s just not good enough. Australia’s Academy of Science has slammed an official plan for protecting the Great Barrier Reef. “This is a plan that won’t restore the reef,” one scientist said. The Australian government will submit its Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan to UNESCO for consideration by the World Heritage Committee, which may place the reef on its list of endangered sites. The natural wonder — considered the Earth’s largest living thing — risks extinction due to climate change and coastal development.


  5. Wal-Mart Drops ‘Fat Girl’ Costumes 

    The retailer got a big serving of sensitivity training yesterday when social networks erupted over its online listing of “Fat Girl Costumes” for Halloween. “What the heck is wrong with you people?” asked one tweeter. Wal-Mart responded with an apology, noting that the gaffe was unacceptable. “This never should have been on our site,” it tweeted. The costumes are still available to purchase online, but they are now labeled “Women’s Plus Size Halloween Costumes.” 

    JezebelBusiness Insider

  6. MIT Releases Rare Data on Rapes

    These are not numbers to call home about. Yet the Massachusetts Institute of Technology revealed that among its undergraduates, 17 percent of women and five percent of men reported conduct that clearly constitutes rape or sexual assault. The shocking statistics were even more surprising since universities are notoriously guarded with this kind of data. “A big-name school like MIT being ahead of the curve like this matters,” said one advocate. About 35 percent of the school’s nearly 11,000 students participated in the survey.


  7. Apple CEO Fires Back at Drugstore Chains

    The wallet wars are heating up. After CVS and Rite Aid stopped accepting mobile payments made through Apple Pay, Tim Cook suggested the retailers were playing shortsighted defense that risked offending customers. “You only are relevant as a retailer or merchant if your customers love you,” Cook told the WSJ Digital Live conference on Monday. Dismissing the dispute as a “skirmish,” the CEO said the tech giant had the “rest of the world” to sign up to its mobile payment system.

    Reuters, Fortune

  8. ’Interstellar’ Pays Tribute to Stanley Kubrick

    Director Christopher Nolan’s first post-Batman film is an epic journey across the heavens, made possible by real-life research into the tantalizing possibility of time travel. The sci-fi drama geeks out on physics and astronomy, yet manages to produce a thrilling space opera in the vein of 2001. Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Michael Caine all have the right stuff, and critics are praising the three-hour spectacle, even if the film does get a bit lost in space.

    Variety, The Guardian, USA Today

  9. Flying ‘Without Walls’ in Wild Blue Yonder

    Imagine flying in a plane without walls. British firm Centre for Process Innovation is in competition with a French company to make the idea take off with plans to replace an airplane’s windows and walls with high-definition, flexible screens. Passengers will be able to see — thanks to cameras mounted on the plane’s exterior for a panoramic view — what’s happening outside as the craft soars through the clouds. The plan may redefine what’s in “plane” view, but it won’t be for the faint of heart. 


  10. NFL Expands Its British Invasion

    American football has jumped the pond and plans to stay. The NFL confirmed that Wembley Stadium will host three more league games in 2015. Europe’s appetite for America’s top sport has been hesitant in the past, but all three UK games this year sold out. More than 80,000 fans watched the Detroit Lions’ thrilling win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, which allowed Americans to indulge in pro football with their morning coffee. With the stateside market thoroughly saturated, London is ripe for overseas expansion.