The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Police Say They Killed Denmark Gunman

    They say they got him. Just a month after the al-Qaida-linked massacre at a newspaper office and deadly standoff at a kosher supermarket in Paris, a gunman in Copenhagen fired on a gathering of supporters of threatened Muhammad-mocking cartoonist Lars Vilks, killing a man. Hours later and three miles away, a man near a synagogue was also gunned down. Police then staked out a residence where their suspect turned up, began shooting and was shot dead by officers. If authorities are right, the Danish capital can end its lockdown.

    BBC, NYT, USA Today


  2. Will Both Sides Stick to the Ukraine Deal?

    They want Putin’s big stick, and they’re not talking softly. European leaders rushed to Minsk, Belarus, last week to negotiate a demilitarization agreement for Ukraine. Fighting between pro-separatist rebels and government troops was called to a halt early today. While both sides say the ceasefire seems to be holding, some shelling has reportedly continued. Western leaders aren’t counting on Moscow to play by the rules, and they’ve threatened to use their own stick — and a carrot for Kiev — to beat Russia with new sanctions if it falls out of line.

    The Guardian, NYT, BBC

  3. ISIS Attacks Within Earshot of U.S. Troops

    The war is getting closer. As many as 25 ISIS fighters breached the perimeter of a military base where 400 U.S. soldiers are training Iraqi troops. National forces repelled the attack, led by suicide bombers in Iraqi army uniforms, on the al-Asad Airbase, military officials said. The American troops were “at least a couple of miles away,” a Pentagon spokesman said. But that distance may shorten soon. A tribal leader predicts that Iraqi military resistance to the militants could collapse quickly without local militias’ support.

    ABC, CNN

  4. China Welcomes the Year of the Sheep

    They’re about to make a mass exodus. To mark the Lunar New Year that starts next week, urban Chinese are putting the national travel system to the test, with literally millions taking trips to visit their families. Tech firms are scrambling to cash in on the annual holiday spending spree, which is expected to ring up a whopping $100 billion. A lottery giveaway sponsored by Alibaba has generated massive controversy already, and the national People’s Bank of China is struggling to make sure there’s enough cash on hand to support the holiday binge. 

    Bloomberg, CNBC, Quartz

  5. Incarceration Loses Its Lock on Crime

    The idea was to put away more criminals and reduce crime rates. Yet lots of states actually reduced their incarceration rates, and crime still dropped. So what has cut crime rates in half since 1990? There are lots of factors, including improved policing and oddities such as cutting lead from gasoline, but mostly it’s a mystery. What we do know, though, is that reducing the prison population could save money and future trouble, because it lowers the number of people without jobs, money and parents.

    The Atlantic 

  6. Greece, Creditors Near Final Showdown

    Who’s gonna blink? Greek officials have gotten nowhere in discussions with eurozone creditors this week. Their calls for debt repayment leniency are falling on deaf ears, and the European Central Bank is demanding that Athens extend its $272 billion bailout deal and stick with current economic reforms. With an end-of-February deadline looming and Greece hell-bent on ending austerity, the country is inching closer to a precipice of not securing funds, defaulting and exiting the eurozone. Officials meet again on Monday, but progress depends on one side agreeing to budge.

    DW, Spiegel

  7. Feared New Snowfall Hits New England, Canadians Charge Two in Mass Murder Plot

    Snow falls in New England as authorities brace for new blizzard. (NBC)

    Canadians charge Illinois woman in Valentine’s mass murder plot. (Toronto Sun)

    Yemeni rivals accuse Houthis of torturing, killing opponents. (Al Jazeera)

    Myanmar recovers bodies from latest clashes with ethnic rebels. (AP)

    ’Fifty Shades of Grey’ sets holiday box office record. (L.A. Times)


  1. Some Ultra-Orthodox Jews Don’t Believe

    They may be atheists, but their world revolves around rabbis and rituals. Some men who reside in the most devoted of Jewish communities continue going through the motions, even if they don’t believe. Why? Because anything less could cost them their marriages, jobs or even access to their kids. Internet support and research is enabling some to see beyond the fundamentals of religion. And it’s not only within Judaism; many faiths are being impacted as adherents hop online to study conflicting ideas, rather than continuing to take a leap of faith.


  2. Don’t Mess With My Sweethearts!

    Tried, true and they even come in blue. Charming candy hearts have been a part of the Valentine’s Day tradition since 1902. The chalky confection’s messages have evolved with the times — from the 1920s “Oh You Kid” and ’90s “Bite Me” to today’s “Occupy My <3” — reflecting slogans from each era. A 2010 recipe tweak had fans souring on the new taste. Still, a whopping two billion hearts sell each year, which suggests we still love the idea of candied conversation.


  3. Wartime Meteorologists Brave the Fronts

    Call them the Pentagon’s secret weapon. An elite cadre, trained as both scientists and Special Forces, drop into combat zones and gather data — like cloud cover, atmospheric pressure and wind speed — to maximize mission success. For example, these “commando forecasters” were on the ground before the mission that killed Osama bin Laden. In our data-driven world, this Special Operations Weather Team is being seen as a vital element for winning on any military front.


  4. A Killer App Could Save Your Life

    What’s that weird thing growing on your shoulder? There’s an app for that — and it could save you money and time getting a skin cancer check from a local doctor. First Derm, which securely sends photos of your suspicious-looking moles to dermatologists in six countries, is the brainchild of 39-year-old Norwegian orthopedic-surgeon-turned-tech-entrepreneur Alexander Börve. For as little as $25, you can cut your diagnosis time by 25 percent, which might just be the difference between life and death.


  5. He Made the Catch of the Year

    He was trained to handle anything, but he never dreamed it would be a falling girl. Donnie Navidad, a former U.S. Marine, and Brittany Bryan were strangers when they visited the Oakland Raiders’ stadium back in 2013. But they’re forever bonded now. The young mom doesn’t know whether she fell or jumped, but she’s happy Donnie — who never got to serve in combat — responded quickly and broke her fall. Both have come away better prepared for whatever life throws their way.