The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Stormy Oscars Mixes Silly and Serious

    The red carpet got soaked, but the show went on. As hard rain fell outside, Hollywood handed out its biggest prizes to Birdman and its director, Alejandro González Iñárritu. Patricia Arquette (who made a passionate plea for women’s rights), J.K. Simmons, Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore all scored acting statuettes. Largely snubbed, Selma won best original song. Host Neil Patrick Harris joked about the ceremony’s lack of diversity, proving that it wasn’t all wet: “Tonight we honor the best and the whitest — I mean brightest.”

    Associated Press, Variety

  2. Greece and Germany Wrestle at the Abyss

    The “Grexit” pentathlon continues. All week, Germany and Greece have squared off, with markets heaving as it seemed a deal was done Thursday, followed by Berlin’s “Nein!” Then on Friday, eurozone ministers allowed a four-month extension of Athens’ $273 billion loan program. By Monday, Greeks must map their reform, then win German legislators’ approval . Some liken the struggle to the U.S. letting Lehman Brothers go under in 2008, a choice Europe still suffers from. In spite of its petulance, Greece may be too big to fail.


  3. Are Police Brutality and Gitmo Linked? 

    American police brutality has become such a concern that even the Russian provocateurs Pussy Riot chose “I Can’t Breathe” for their first English song. Meanwhile, an investigation has exposed a link between police interrogation practices and harsh treatment at Guantánamo: Richard Zuley, a onetime Chicago officer and Navy reservist brought to Gitmo in 2002. Documents suggest that Zuley, the subject of a federal civil rights lawsuit, used brutal practices at his Chicago precinct that mirror cruel treatment in Cuba. Were these practices effective police work or inhumane?

    The Guardian, Billboard

  4. ISIS

    Rethinking the Ties Between ISIS and Islam

    The U.S. president called ISIS “not Islamic,” but the evidence doesn’t back him up. ISIS is an extreme by-the-book movement, providing the faithful with hitherto unavailable opportunities. One of those is pledging allegiance to a caliphate — as the Prophet required — which hasn’t been possible since 1924. Scholars say the West ignores this at its peril, and one of the most promising weapons against staggeringly successful ISIS recruitment is other extreme adherents, Salafis included, who don’t share the movement’s bloodthirsty apocalyptic obsession.

    The Atlantic


  1. Big Data Could Deliver More for China

    The Internet is often seen as a democratizing tool, widening cracks in totalitarianism through education, links to the outside world and avenues to connect in secret with others who share like values. But data can be vulnerable. China may be realizing that the government’s best defense against protesters isn’t to shut down their connections, but to covertly track them — building “a more efficient form of authoritarianism.” Big Brother may be watching — more closely than ever.


  2. He Spoke to Fox News and Ended up in Jail

    The story was a “nothing burger.” But the non-scoop that appeared on Fox’s website in 2009 would lead to FBI harassment, the breakup of his family and a 13-month prison term for violating the Espionage Act. The crime? Stephen Kim, a U.S. citizen and State Department expert on rogue nations, speculated to a reporter about North Korea’s reaction to U.N. sanctions. Unfortunately, Kim’s 30-second conversation took place as the Obama administration was cracking down on leaks. Wrong call, wrong time.

    The Intercept

  3. Why Counting the Homeless Matters

    How do you count people who live outside our social systems? Cities nationwide struggle to quantify their homeless population, often sending volunteers out to canvass neighborhoods. Counts are “more art than science,” an imperfect approach but one that’s considered better than U.S. Census methods, which statisticians discount as useless. Whether or not they add up, these counts have added value as the Obama administration set goals to end chronic homelessness this year. 

    Fusion, Mother Jones

  4. Jonathan Ive Is Apple’s Core

    He’s painfully shy. But Apple’s legendary design guru gave rare access for an epic 17,000-word profile. Among the revelations: Apple Watch is his baby. He loves cars, more proof that the company is developing an iCar. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, he wanted to replace Ive — until they clicked instantly and “Jony” became Jobs’ “spiritual partner.” Together, they cranked out products that made Apple the world’s most valuable company. That’s nothing to be shy about.

    New Yorker, The Awl

  5. A-Rod’s Road to Self-Discovery

    The path to redemption seems an anguished journey for Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez. During his now-completed yearlong suspension, he’s been on a program of self-improvement, doing everything from psychotherapy to gleaning batting tips from fellow disgraced home-run hero Barry Bonds. He’s made lots of apologies to his friends but still hasn’t revealed the full story of his years of cheating and lying. As he continues his penance, he keeps asking: I had it all, so how could I have thrown it away?