The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Obama Calls Kassig’s Murder ‘Pure Evil’ 

    He went to Syria to help, but he paid the ultimate price after falling into enemy hands. ISIS has released a video of Abdul-Rahman (Peter) Kassig’s beheaded remains — a murder President Obama has labeled “pure evil.” But unlike previous footage of beheadings with choreographed final moments, only Kassig’s body was shown, prompting questions over whether something went wrong. While many hope ISIS is weakening under the strain of U.S.-led airstrikes, this grim video does little to raise hope that the militants’ days are numbered.


  2. Japan’s Economy Tumbles Into Recession

    The smart money totally missed it. The world’s third-largest economy unexpectedly shrank for a second quarter in a row, likely forcing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to delay the second stage of a controversial sales-tax boost that has already walloped consumer spending. Economists were stunned by the annualized 1.6 percent decline in GDP when forecasts had predicted over two percent growth. The shocker sent the benchmark Nikkei stock index down three percent and sets the stage for a confidence call on “Abenomics” via new elections, only halfway through the prime minister’s term. 

    FT (sub), NYTWSJ (sub)

  3. African Doctor Dies of Ebola in Nebraska

    When the first test came back negative, Dr. Martin Salia and his colleagues in Sierra Leone celebrated. But turns out that first test was wrong. The doctor, whose wife and two children live in the U.S., was then flown to America, but it was too late. As his family mourns, fears are spreading in the Freetown hospital where he worked and where his fellow health-care workers doffed their protective gear days following the first — false — test results.

    Washington Post

  4. Pharma Firms Join Forces, Haliburton Buys Rival

    Allergan, the maker of Botox, has been bought out for about $66 billion by Actavis, creating one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms and fending off a potential hostile take-over from a competitor. Meanwhile, Halliburton is acquiring rival Baker Hughes in a $34.6 billion deal, aiming to streamline the two companies (layoffs are expected). The oil-field agreement could be a sign of things to come in a world where oil prices have plummeted and companies are reconfiguring for the future.

    Fortune, USA Today

  5. Romanian Expats Impact Presidential Race

    Foreign influence figured heavily in choosing the Romanian president. Prime Minister Victor Ponta has conceded defeat in a runoff with anti-corruption opponent Klaus Iohannis, an ethnic German. The Romanian diaspora weighed in — thanks to absentee voting and polling places in major European cities — with many of the four million expats seemingly fed up with corruption and the current administration. But while Ponta acknowledged defeat in the presidential race, he said he has no intention of resigning his post as prime minister.


  6. Norovirus on Cruise Ship Infects Scores

    It wasn’t the waves making them ill. Some 172 Crown Princess passengers and crew have contracted the highly contagious tummy bug. The ship, which also suffered an outbreak in April, glided through the Pacific for nearly a month before being greeted by public health officials in California yesterday. Those with tickets to embark on its next voyage — a Mexican Riviera cruise in late November — will be happy to hear it will undergo “stringent disinfecting protocols” before being allowed to set sail.

    Reuters, AFP

  7. Missouri Gov. Activates National Guard, Child Homelessness Hits Record

    State of emergency declared ahead of Ferguson ruling. (Reuters)

    Child homelessness hits an all-time high. (AP)

    Europe seeks ‘urgent’ action after bird flu found at Dutch poultry farm. (DW) 

    DEA agents surprise NFL with medical staff checks. (LA Times)

    Rebels suspected in Colombian general’s kidnapping. (USA Today)

    Thai authorities question American tourist over body parts. (AP)

    Burkina Faso’s former foreign minister named provisional president. (Al Jazeera)


  1. Former Sex Slaves Get New Tattoos

    Jennifer Kempton was just another statistic in the $9.5 billion U.S. human-trafficking industry — and she had a tattoo marking her as a pimp’s property to prove it. Breaking free from her predicament meant getting new ink. Now she has started a campaign for other former sex slaves, whose tattoos serve as daily reminders of their previous hell. Survivor’s Ink in Columbus, Ohio, helps those who’ve escaped a world of bondage cover their tats in a bid to heal emotional, as well as physical, scars.

    The Guardian

  2. Could the Italian Lira Make a Comeback?

    The erstwhile European currency known for packing the weakest punch may be resurrected. An Italian comedian-turned-politician is circulating a petition — and it’s no joke — to leave the eurozone and readopt the lira. With the Italian economy in a profound depression, chances for the lira’s comeback are improving. Fellow EU nations like Spain and Ireland are recovering after painful restructuring, but Italy’s reform attempts have failed, leaving currency devaluation its best hope. To do that, it will need its money back.

    The Guardian

  3. Facebook to Launch Workplace Network

    If we wanted to work, we wouldn’t be posting friend requests. The social networking giant is heading straight for  workplaces with a new product supervisors might allow. Facebook at Work will function like the fun version — networks, groups, private messages — but will add document collaboration and other professional tools. It’s already used at Facebook HQ, but the public version is currently in the pilot stages. Work profiles will be separate from personal ones, so there’s no rush to delete compromising college-day selfies.

    Mashable, FT (sub)

  4. Mammoths Could Make Unlikely Comeback

    Scientists may be able to bring woolly mammoths back from extinction after ten thousand years and are pinning their hopes on the discovery of a 40,000-year-old female in Siberia last year. The animal was so well-preserved that researchers believe they can extract a complete genome, which could allow them to clone the creature. But ethical questions remain, including concerns that some unfortunate modern elephant would have to carry its ancient forebear to term with potentially damaging consequences.

    The Independent

  5. Critics Take Aim at ‘Assassin’s Creed: Unity’

    The latest version of Ubisoft’s action-packed adventure plunges players into a very bloody French Revolution. The game has drawn raves for detailed depictions of Parisian landmarks, but poison for a number of glitches. And politicians of la République have denounced the game as “propaganda” that portrays liberators as monsters and evil nobility as victims. But the revolution was no bloodless coup, and the game may have merely stirred up an old debate over the true heroes and villains in one of Europe’s most transformative periods.

    QuartzYahoo Games

  6. Bill Cosby Rape Allegations Resurface

    His accusers never went away. A decade of dark rumors have reached the light of day after a fellow comedian called the famously avuncular funnyman a rapist in a viral video, and two women published detailed accounts of Cosby allegedly drugging and assaulting them as teenagers. The actor further complicated his defense by refusing to speak during an awkward NPR interview. Despite repeated denials, including one issued by his lawyer yesterday, America may be turning against its favorite TV dad.

    Washington PostHollywood ReporterTelegraph

  7. Federer Injury Shocks Tennis Fans

    One moment you’re playing “Mario Kart,” the next you’re across the net from the world’s Number One. That’s what happened to Andy Murray, who was asked to play an exhibition match against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic when Roger Federer pulled out of the ATP World Tour Finals on Sunday. The Swiss legend announced his withdrawal due to a back injury less than an hour before the match, prompting rumors of a locker-room brawl and fears that men’s tennis could soon lose its greatest-ever player. 

    ESPNThe Guardian