The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. American Hostage ‘Murdered’ in Rescue Bid

    A bold attempt to save two al-Qaida hostages in Yemen has ended in tragedy. U.S. commandos raided homes in the southern province of Shabwa in a bid to free an American journalist. But by the time American soldiers reached Luke Somers, 33, he had been fatally shot, along with South African Pierre Korkie. President Obama, who was trying to deliver on a pledge to use all possible “military, intelligence and diplomatic capabilities to bring Americans home safely,” said the hostages had been murdered by the militants. 

    ABC, NYT

  2. Science, Tech Take on Injustice

    This week’s decision clearing the policeman in the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York didn’t quiet cries for justice. Some would employ technology to attack the growing racial schism — President Obama has requested $75 million to equip police with body cameras. But video didn’t help Garner’s case, and studies have repeatedly shown whites’ knee-jerk negativity toward blacks. Seems that fighting racial stereotypes will take more than technology, thought exercises and politicians’ pleas for “healing.”

    Mother Jones, New Republic


  3. China Eyes End to Government Corruption

    No one is immune — that was the message China’s government issued with the arrest this week of former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. He faces corruption charges that range from suspected bribes to the leaking of official secrets. In an editorial today, Chinese president Xi Jinping — who is determined to root out malfeasance — likened corruption to a “cancer that has invaded the party’s healthy tissue.” Zhou’s arrest and expulsion from the Party signals that Xi’s dead serious about finding a cure.

    NYT, WSJ

  4. One Man Fights to Bring Syrians the News

    Raed Fares, a Syrian broadcaster at odds with both the Assad regime and ISIS, is lucky to be alive. Gunmen sprayed him with bullets, shattering bones in his shoulder and puncturing a lung, but he continues his humor-tinged protests on YouTube and Facebook. Online snark is not enough, though. Under constant threat of assassination, Fares is smuggling U.S.-funded radios into Syria to give people the opportunity to hear the news of their own struggle, with commentary that spares no one, especially not Obama.


  5. Malala, Satyarthi to Get Nobel Peace Prizes

    “Who is Malala?” Few of us could have answered that question when a Taliban gunman in Pakistan’s Swat Valley uttered it before shooting 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai in the face in 2012. Today, partly because of that savage act, much of the world knows exactly who she is: a tireless advocate for universal education who will receive the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on Wednesday. Another advocate for children, Kailash Satyarthi, will also receive a Peace Prize for his work on behalf of exploited children in India.

    Forbes, USA Today, Norwegian Nobel Committee

  6. Currency Trading Wave Mimics Pros

    It’s not for the fainthearted, with chances you’ll profit one time out of three. But now there seems to be a trick to improve your odds: copycat trading. Sit back and put your money where someone else’s mouth is, making trades that automatically follow an expert’s orders. So far, it’s been successful roughly half the time, but some analysts say that can’t last. And the British government is considering heaping new regulations on the practice, threatening to make it a poor copy of its former self.



  1. The Rise of the Halal Vacation

    Most travelers can’t imagine Hawaii without bikinis, Munich without beer or Spain without chorizo. But that’s exactly what many Muslim travelers want. Halal-friendly tourism is on the rise worldwide as millions of Muslims choose to explore increasingly exotic destinations every year while staying true to their faith and lifestyle. Turkey and Malaysia have long been the friendliest places for them, but now even non-Muslim majority countries — from Spain to Japan — are jumping on the profitable bandwagon to offer alcohol-free minibars, prayer rooms and women-only swimming pools.


  2. Experts Try to Save Asia’s Sunken Treasure

    Vietnam’s Cham Islands are known for their tropical beaches — and history of shipwrecks. Situated along one of the busiest ancient trade routes, it’s collected some 1,000 wrecks dating back to the Middle Ages. In village shops, one can find ceramic Ming Dynasty artifacts collected by local fishermen and often sold to collectors. One vessel yielded some 250,000 objects. Now archaeologists want to apply method to this plunder, forging a coalition between themselves, national authorities and treasure hunters to glean historical data before surrendering the booty.


  3. Hans Ulrich Obrist Curates Conversation

    He’s more than your typical art-show organizer lurking at the back of the stage. No, he’s a talker, listener and traveler. When Obrist isn’t working at London’s renowned Serpentine Gallery, he’s adding miles to his 2,000 or so trips over the past two decades, discovering emerging artists, catching up with favorites and spreading his love of all things creative. What sets him atop the modern art world? His knowledgeable conversation about art, weaving together his boundless network and the magic of his travels with lyrical ease.

    New Yorker

  4. For Woman Scientist, a Pointless Death

    She should have known better. As a young technician before World War II, Marguerite Perey worked at the Radium Institute of Paris under Marie Curie. She helped study radioactive decay, discovered the element francium and became a leading scientist in her own right. But her work, which she hoped would improve cancer diagnosis, led to her untimely death from that very affliction. Working unprotected despite strong evidence of radioactivity’s danger, Perey fell prey to the researcher’s ethos of fearlessness. Today, a relative traces her life and its lessons for intrepid pioneers.


  5. Bass Fishing Battles Its Dark Side

    With hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line, competitive bass fishing was once rife with cheating. Two busted conspirators in the 1980s met violent ends, and the sport associated with tranquil contemplation of nature found it necessary to add polygraph tests to its contest routines. Why? Imported specimens were concealed underwater or beneath raincoats, and one brazen scammer even “caught” a 13-pounder from a local aquarium. This sordid history is no fish story, and contest organizers would just as soon throw it back.