The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. The Stories That Gave Us Pause for Thought in 2013

    It was a year of meaty stories: a big sports lie, a mind-blowing leak of classified information, significant revelations from a new pope. With so much to chew on, these and other stories have been captured in savory long-form reads. We’ve rounded up the tastiest top long-form stories of 2013 that defined our world this year. Visit for the full links to these amazing stories. Do you agree with our year-end picks? Tell us what we missed

  2. Found: Family of Six Russians Isolated for over 40 Years

    In 1978, a geologist from the Soviet Union discovered a family that had been cut off from civilization for over 40 years. Living more than 150 miles from any other humans, the Lykov family had survived on whatever they could find in the vast desolation of the icy Taiga. Having left for the remote mountains in 1936 to escape religious persecution, they were unaware that events such as WWII had taken place. The children, two of whom had been born in the Taiga, knew of cities and apartment blocks, but such concepts were little more than abstractions. Their reality, by contrast, was one of constant famine and basic, handmade technology.

    Source: Smithsonian magazine

  3. Laura Poitras Is Half the Key to the Snowden Files

    Documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras had been researching government surveillance for two years when she received a mysterious email in January 2013. The message was from Edward Snowden; he was looking for a person he could trust to help commit the most controversial leak of classified information in history. Initially suspicious, Poitras took the leap: “I thought, OK, if this is true, my life just changed.” Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald are now the only people with full access to the Snowden files — and they’ve landed on U.S. terrorist watch lists because of it.

    Source: New York Times

  4. Brother Was Living the American Dream — What Went Wrong?

    Dzokhar “Jahar” Tsarnaev gained international notoriety in April after he and his older brother, Tamerlan, killed three people and wounded hundreds of others at the Boston Marathon finish line. Headlines painted them as Muslim extremists, terrorists and even Al Qaeda — but the truth was perhaps even more disturbing. Jahar immigrated to the U.S. from Chechnya as a child and grew into an American college kid: a good wrestler, ambitious student, partier and community volunteer. Some experts suggest that Jahar, whose motivations remain a mystery, was “never truly radicalized.” If so, what really makes a terrorist?

    Source: Rolling Stone

  5. Jobless Benefits Ending, Ship Rescue Setback, Newtown Report Released

    Emergency unemployment benefits ending for one million Americans. (NYT).

    Antarctic ship still stuck: Rescue icebreaker turns back. (USA Today).

    Clashes on Cairo campus as Egyptian students fight police. (BBC). 

    “Painful” and “disturbing” details in Newtown shooting final report. (BBC, USA Today).

    China’s one-child policy formally relaxed after three decades. (The Guardian). 

  6. Silicon Valley: “Most Unequal Place” Eyes Up Politics

    The Valley has exploded into a glitzy digital paradise over the past few decades, but as this year’s National Book Award winner George Packer argues, it needs some serious shaking up — and fast. The area has become a microcosm of America’s social problems, including rising rent, a huge disparity in school quality and immigration controversies. At the same time, Facebook co-founder Joe Green was recently caught creating a list of big shots who could be “one of the most powerful political forces.” If Silicon Valley enters the politics game, Packer warns, watch out: The track record at home is worrying.

    Source: New Yorker, Politico


  1. The (Corporate) Feminist Manifesto of the Moment

    Hundreds of thousands of women like ”Lean In” on Facebook, a movement started by Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg. Lean In claims to offer women “the ongoing inspiration and support to help them achieve their goals.” However, Sandberg has been notoriously loath to address policy gaps in gender equality. The suggested workplace strategies for getting ahead may work well for multimillionaires like Sandberg, as some suggest. But early women’s labor movements like the Lowell “mill girls” got ahead by going on strike, not leaning in.

    Source: The Baffler

    Leaning In, Looking Out?

  2. “Safest Painkiller” Is Killing More Than Pain

    Tylenol, touted as the “safest painkiller you can buy,” causes up to 150 deaths a year, according to a major investigation published earlier this year. Users taking just two pills more than the recommended allowance over a period of weeks could seriously damage their livers. The active ingredient in the drug, Acetaminophen, has a narrow safety margin, with the FDA describing minor overdoses as a “persistent, important public health problem.” Although the accidental deaths are most commonly associated with heavy drinkers whose livers have already been under stress, people with healthier lifestyles have also died. 

    Sources: NPR, ProPublica

  3. Pope Francis Shares Something of the Man Beneath the Miter

    In an interview for Catholic magazine America, Pope Francis reveals his love of Caravaggio’s paintings and also that he is “a bit naïve.” The election of the new pope has re-enlivened the Catholic faith around the world. In words that speak to the pontiff’s grounded sense of self, he described himself as “a sinner who the Lord has looked upon.” Francis has been noted for his opposition to acquisitive capitalism; however, it seems that he is more concerned with how people connect to one another in the modern world. 

    Sources: America magazineThe Guardian

  4. 10 Years Later, Dave Chappelle Isn’t Done Yet

    When he left Chappelle’s Show mid-production, ditching his friend and co-writer of many years, rumors swirled: Was Dave Chappelle on drugs? Was he crazy? At the moment, he is decidedly neither, and he lives with his family in his childhood home of Yellow Springs, Ohio. In the early 2000s, Chappelle’s Show tackled issues of race, the N-word and “post-racial America” head on. Today, Chappelle practices comedy and political commentary on his own terms.

    Source: The Believer

  5. Manti Te’o Makes One of the Year’s Most Memorable Lies

    It was an emotional story to inspire a nation: Within six hours of the deaths of his grandmother and girlfriend, college linebacker Manti Te’o overcame his grief and triumphed on the field. Tragedy soon turned to farce when it was revealed that Lennay Kekua, Te’o’s girlfriend, did not exist. The elaborate fiction, fueled by media speculation, spiraled out of control; more than $3,000 was pledged to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in Kekua’s memory. Though Te’o claimed to have been duped by a fake Twitter account, the fabricated stories of time spent with the fictional girlfriend reveal that he wasn’t quite so innocent.

    Source: Deadspin