The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Torture Report Paints Gruesome Picture

    The spies misled us. A Senate Intelligence Committee report says the CIA lied to Congress, the White House and the public about the extent and brutality of its torture program. One especially horrific procedure involved “rectal feeding.” Perhaps most damning — the information gleaned never led to the disruption of plots nor the capture of terror leaders, including Osama bin Laden. In the wake of the scathing report, U.S. outposts overseas were placed on alert. Meanwhile, many Americans reacted with horror at what Senator Feinstein called a “stain on our values and our history.”

    NYT, Washington Post, CNN

  2. Congress Reaches Deal to Avert Shutdown

    With two days to go, congressional leaders agreed Tuesday night on a $1.1 trillion spending bill to keep most of the government open through September 2015. The legislation maintains domestic spending for the most part, and funds efforts to fight Ebola and Islamic militants abroad. In an unexpected move, lawmakers allowed some troubled pensions to reduce their benefits. The 1,603-page bill won’t make everyone merry, but at least Christmas is safe from another shutdown.

    Washington Post, NYT

  3. Stocks Stage Comeback After Deep Plunge

    U.S. markets made a nice recovery after a steep selloff in global markets this morning. Chinese stocks saw their biggest one-day percentage fall since August 2009, sending ripples worldwide. European markets, meanwhile, flinched over concerns that early Greek elections could bring more turmoil. But investors shook off those worries. The S&P 500 ended nearly flat, the Dow lost just 51 points and the Nasdaq squeaked into the green. Expect more volatility when the Fed meets next week to decide on the longevity of low interest rates.

    USA Today, WSJ (sub)

  4. Calif. Demonstrators Seethe, NYC Simmers

    They’re royally frustrated. The visiting Duke and Duchess of Cambridge got an eyeful of protests outside an NBA arena last night, but the real action was in Berkeley, California, where a thousand demonstrators blocked two highways. Tensions are flaring over decisions not to indict police officers in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Monday’s activism proved less destructive than weekend protests, and Berkeley’s mayor — referring to violent protesters as “thugs” — has urged demonstrators to peacefully express their views.

    The Daily Californian, USA Today, CNN

  5. U.S. Puts More Mortgages Within Reach

    The three-percent down payment is back. Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have said they will start backing loans with much lower upfront costs, making homeownership more accessible for low-income and first-time buyers. The catch? Fixed-rate loans are only for single-family homes that are primary residences. And no “liar loans” — full salary and credit documentation will safeguard against what critics of the plan see as a return to irresponsible lending.

    NYT, CNN Money, Washington Post

  6. Malaria Deaths Drop by Half

    It’s great news, but no reason for complacency. Since 2000, deaths linked to the deadly mosquito-borne disease are down 47 percent globally, and 54 percent in Africa. Thirteen of the 97 malaria-stricken countries reported zero new cases this year. Testing, treatment and distribution of mosquito nets have aided advancements. But WHO officials warn the progress is fragile. While some nations verge on eliminating malaria, others — especially those plagued by Ebola — risk suffering a resurgence.

    Al Jazeera, Popular Science

  7.  Soda Can Lining Linked to Blood Pressure Hike 

    The study is relatively small, as such things go, but add it to the growing pile of concern over a chemical used to coat soda cans. The can linings’ resin contains bisphenol A, which according to Korean researchers via an American Heart Association journal was shown to increase blood pressure slightly. Healthy people may not notice such a small jump, but it could impact those who already have heart health problems. The FDA says BPA is safe. But maybe next time, consider a bottle.

    NBC News

  8. Pistorius Prosecutor Seeks Tougher Sentence, Bombers Kill Five in Yemen Attack

    Prosecutor bids to appeal Pistorius verdict, sentencing. (Sowetan)

    Suicide bombers hit military command in Yemen, killing five. (Al Jazeera) 

    Developing currencies fall to 14-year low against the dollar. (FT) sub

    U.S. sues Deutsche Bank over alleged tax avoidance. (The Local)

    Greece prepares for snap election after netting bailout extension. (France24)


  1. St. Louis Paper Shuts Down Comments

    They’re gonna send letters. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is banning reader comments on its opinion pages for at least two months in an attempt to elevate the conversation on race and police brutality in the aftermath of the Ferguson controversy. “Let’s give civility a try,” urged the editors. Other outlets have made a strong case for doing away with comments for good. Still have something to say? Try sending a note — the old-fashioned way.

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch

  2. Covering the President Costs a Mint

    The White House shocked newspaper editors when it billed them around $90,000 for each reporter who tagged along on the president’s Asia trip last month. That was just airfare. Though a lucky few travel on Air Force One, each journalist pays a share of the cost for the chartered press plane, which had been estimated at around $60,000 per person. Using commercial economy flights, The New York Times figured the same itinerary would cost under $6,000. No wonder more papers are staying home.

    NYT, Washington Post

  3. Can Time in the Kitchen Beat Depression?

    Call it behavioral therapy for foodies. Psychologists are increasingly using cooking as a treatment for depression and anxiety. They believe the practical, goal-oriented activity provides respite from negative thoughts and procrastination, and encourages self-care and healthy eating. What’s more, offering food is a primal way of developing human connections, so by sharing your culinary achievements with others, you could also improve their mental health.

    WSJ (sub)

  4. Grumpy Cat Isn’t Worth $100 Million

    The Web’s most famous feline is scratching out quite a living. A British tabloid reported that the kitty’s frown-face had earned its owner, a 29-year-old former waitress, a ridiculous amount of money. Though “completely false,” the figure quickly went viral. While Tabatha Bundesen refused to disclose how much Grumpy Cat (née Tardar Sauce) really earned, the furry star has her own agent, paid endorsements and a motion picture. Not exactly good reasons to pout.

    Washington Post, CNET, Jezebel

  5. King James Gives Nets a Royal Beating

    He wasn’t the only nobility holding court. Prince William and his wife Kate arrived fashionably late to Cleveland’s 110-88 victory over Brooklyn on Monday — the Cavs’ seventh straight win. During a break, the duo shook hands with NYC royals, Jay Z and Beyoncé. The dramatic night also featured LeBron, Kyrie Irving and several Nets players sporting “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts in support of Eric Garner. They’re the latest athletes to protest the decision not to indict the officer whose chokehold led to Garner’s death.