The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Sphinx-like Justices Mull ACA’s Future

    Are tea leaves healthy? For now, reading them is all Americans can do to determine what will become of the Affordable Care Act. In oral arguments before the Supreme Court this week, two conservative justices tipped their hand that their votes could swing either way. A strict interpretation of tax-credit rules could gut the law, causing millions to lose coverage. That would impact the two-thirds of states without their own health-care exchanges, leaving some scrambling for makeshift solutions just in case.

    NPR, WSJ (sub), The Atlantic

  2. Iran Deal-Making Divides U.S. Leaders

    Will Obama have a tougher time with Iran, or the U.S. Congress? On Tuesday, ovations for Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu — visiting without administration consent — showed that GOP lawmakers were more enthralled by the PM’s anti-Iran stance than the president’s efforts to negotiate curbs on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions. There’s no deal yet, but Secretary of State John Kerry’s attempts to reassure nervous Arab allies suggests he knows something momentous is brewing in Geneva.

    USA TodayReuters, NYT

  3. Small Companies Booming in China

    Traditional pillars of growth — exports, heavy industry and real estate — don’t look so hot, but simple regulatory changes that cut red tape and lowered costs a year ago have led to a 68 percent surge in new businesses, creating 1.76 million companies. Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday reduced China’s growth target this year to around 7 percent, down from last year’s 7.4 percent, the lowest in 24 years. The days of double-digit growth are over, but this job-creation machine may have arrived just in time.

    OZY, FT (sub), NYT 

  4. Reasonable Doubt Cast on Nemtsov Probe

    They have five suspects and a confession, but there’s cause for skepticism. The Kremlin shouldn’t be trusted to solve Boris Nemtsov’s February 27 murder, says the head of a firm once heavily invested in Russia. Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister, led opposition protests and, in the hours before he was shot dead, publicly called Putin a “pathological liar.” That — and a history of cover-ups — is why Hermitage Capital Management’s Bill Browder believes U.S. pressure on international courts might be Nemtsov’s best shot at justice.



  1. For Rio Mental Patients, the Play’s the Thing

    Call it crazy, “yet there is method in it.” Brazilian doctor Vitor Pordeus claims his psychotic, schizophrenic and depressed patients emerge from their shells when playing Shakespearean characters for his “Madness Hotel” collective. The idea seems rooted in Samba culture that offered collective redemption by recalling past trauma, and in more recent advances in psychotherapy, which use painting and sculpting as means of self-expression. On a more controversial level, some believe that heightened creativity may even rewire our psyches.


  2. Why Millennials Love These Critters

    Nothing says aloof like a coat of spikes. But that’s part of the hedgehog’s allure, captivating millennials with enough cash for specialized vets and price tags reaching $300. One group of aficionados has even appointed a monarch and military to defend the peculiar pets, who can be potty-trained but usually prefer to poop on spinning hamster wheels. Before you pony up for one of these pint-size pets, be aware they may not make ideal companions: They are outlawed in six U.S. states and, like millennials, are slow to pay you much attention.


  3. One Man’s Fight Against Philly’s Cops

    Tony Wright’s still waiting. He wasted half of his life in prison, convicted of murder, before the Innocence Project conducted DNA tests implicating someone else for the brutal crime. But prosecutors are resisting, saying they’ll retry Wright, in spite of other overturned cases where the same cops appear to have manipulated suspects, witnesses and evidence. It’s all being linked to a dirty Philadelphia PD history dating back to the 1960s, when investigators reportedly were urged to “get the confession by any and all means.” 

    Rolling Stone

  4. ‘Friends’ Might Liberate North Korea

    The North Korea Strategy Center ships some 3,000 USB drives of movies, music and sitcoms across the border each year. Smugglers bribe guards and risk death to infiltrate Kim Jong-un’s fortress with bootleg copies of popular American shows, not to mention The Interview and crowd-pleasing Hunger Games. Depictions of a Western lifestyle, organizers hope, will help drive frustrated Hermit Kingdom citizens to demand change. In the wake of the Sony Pictures hack, a Friends-inspired revolution has an ironic ring that only Joey could miss. 


  5. Princess of U.S. Track Paces Herself

    She’s fast but in no hurry. Mary Cain first made headlines at 15, with a promise so bright that famed runner Alberto Salazar was soon phoning in tips, breaking his rule against coaching teenagers. The last time an American girl dominated running was the ’70s; she broke multiple records but endured 20 operations blamed on relentless competition. Cain, now 18, is protected by coaches who took those lessons to heart. She could break the 1,200-meter world record — if slow and steady really does win the race.

    NYT Magazine