The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. sinai plane crash bodies removed getty images 495100950

    Russian Agency: KGL 9268 Broke Apart ‘in Midair’

    Russia’s Interstate Aviation Commission says that the Metrojet Airbus A-321 that crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula yesterday “broke up in midair,” with debris spreading out over nearly eight square miles. Both Russian and Egyptian officials have dismissed ISIS-linked militants’ claim that they brought the Sharm el-Sheikh-to-St. Petersburg flight down, killing all 224 aboard, but the commission’s director said it’s still too early to determine the tragedy’s cause. Egyptian president Abdul Fattah al Sisi warned that the probe was a “complicated matter” that could go on for months.


  2. supreme court building

    SCOTUS to Hear Case on Excluding Black Jurors

    How striking! It’s been illegal since 1986, but many U.S. prosecutors continue to exclude Black jurors — they fear they’ll acquit — by using loosely defined peremptory challenges. On Monday, death-row inmate Timothy Tyrone Foster’s lawyers will try to convince the Supreme Court that racially biased jury selection — replete with coded ratings of Black candidates — provides grounds for a retrial. Georgia’s attorneys will defend the process, but it’ll be up to the justices to decide whether this is a form of discrimination and how to stamp it out.

  3. Paul Ryan speaking

    Republicans Shift Agenda Into Overdrive

    The GOP had a busy week, with Congress passing a major compromise budget and electing Rep. Paul Ryan as House Speaker. Meanwhile, the presidential contenders set their sights on the media and one another, with Marco Rubio scoring big, netting billionaire investor Paul Singer’s backing on Friday. The pack now heads to Iowa, where it’s looking to translate talking points into votes. But don’t discount Donald Trump: Some polls pegged him as the debate winner, and he’s gearing up to show his lighter side as guest host of next weekend’s Saturday Night Live.

  4. 1280px 18th national congress of the communist party of china

    Can China Outdo Democracy?

    It’s a brave new world. Political theorist Daniel Bell asserts that Beijing may be surpassing democracy with “meritocracy,” a system of elected local leaders but appointed, highly qualified national ones. They help cut back on democracy’s endemic gridlock, enabling sometimes unpopular efforts like tackling climate change. Some colleagues call Bell an apologist for a regime that denies freedoms and lacks democracy’s checks and balances. But Bell admits he prefers the theory to the practice, and both sides think fast-evolving China needs a more workable system because, as one critic says, failure would be “disastrous.”

  5. armed man in c.a.r.

    CAR Schedules Elections, Braces for Violence

    They’re voting for a more peaceful future. Violent rebels from the largely Muslim Seleka coalition who seized power in 2013 and plunged the Central African Republic into turmoil could see their government lose power on December 13. The national vote was scheduled for earlier this month, but was canceled following deadly sectarian clashes in Bangui, the country’s capital. But now the electoral commission says it’s determined to forge a democratic future — a runoff vote for the presidency will follow in January if needed — and get the country back on track. 


  6. Erdogan’s Party Recaptures Turkish Majority, Assad Regime Loses Town to ISIS

    Ruling AKP party regains parliamentary majority in Turkish vote. (Bloomberg)

    ISIS takes town from Syrian government amid surge in fighting. (Reuters)

    Car strikes trick-or-treaters in New York City, killing three. (USA Today)

    Police hunt for assailant in fatal North Carolina campus shooting. (NYDN)

    Mets must do or die tonight in World Series Game 5 against Royals. (SI)


  1. papua new guinea mummy head shutterstock 147791579

    Meet the Witch Savior of Papua New Guinea

    She’s not afraid. Monica Paulus was once an accused witch, and in her native Highlands in PNG that tends to get you burned alive. She escaped but is now back and crusading to stop the murder of “witches,” believed to be responsible for the death of loved ones in a spirit-worshiping society that was largely Paleolithic 80 years ago. She’s saved a few of the many victims but is now seeking help to create a rapid-response team equipped with vehicles and cash to pay off angry mobs.

  2. Julia galef washburn 024

    Ubernerds Are Making Philosophy a Business

    Silicon Valley’s smartest programmers aren’t exactly the types to seek therapy. But they will pay almost $4,000 to learn how to be more rational. And the lucky folks raking in the financial rewards are semiprofessional philosophers like Julia Galef, founder of the Center for Applied Rationality in Berkeley, Calif. She has one simple goal: to get us all to be a little “less wrong” by identifying biases that shape our decisions. These so-called rationalists are taking the Valley by storm, but can they mend the “irrational” further afield?

  3. wine 16239571718 9195bf0928 k

    Armenian Vineyards Fight to Save Wine Heritage

    Raise a glass to tradition. Wineries in the Vayots Dzor province of Armenia are in a battle to salvage ancient grape varietals that helped put the village of Areni, and the world’s earliest known winery, on the map in 4,100 B.C. They still employ the same ceramic storage vessels that have been used for millennia. Only now they’re trying to reverse the overly weighted focus on the Areni’s oval-shaped red grape — exploited to feed Russian demand — in favor of ancient varietals on the verge of extinction.

  4. bolshoi ballet dancers

    Dancers Caught in East-West Shuffle

    Dreams of success have kept them on their toes — but headed in opposite directions. Joy Womack made a splash as a 15-year-old American dancer invited to study with the Bolshoi Ballet, where she asserts corruption kept her from landing coveted roles. Now she dances within the Kremlin walls, still struggling to fit in but lunging toward Sergei Polunin-style success. Dubbed the “bad boy of ballet,” Ukraine’s Polunin moved to London at 13, obtained superstardom and then watched his career swan-dive amid drugs and angst only to rise again … in Moscow.

  5. Russell Westbrook

    Russell Westbrook Gives as Good as He Gets

    He just wanted a free ride through college. But the Oklahoma City point guard has evolved into one of the NBA’s greatest weapons. It’s a seismic shift from when the Thunder star was accused of only looking out for his own stats. While he led the league in scoring last year after Kevin Durant went down with an injury, he also became the fourth leading assist creator, elevating the games of teammates like Serge Ibaka. And with Durant back in the game, the two are looking forward to taking rivals by storm.