The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Egypt’s Cabinet Abruptly Steps Down

    Today’s surprise mass resignation could leave room for the Egyptian military chief and defense minister, General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, to make a presidential run. Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi made the announcement on live TV Monday, and it wasn’t clear whether Beblawi himself would keep his position. Sisi is popular amongst Egyptians. But human rights watchers say abuses are increasing daily under Sisi. Love him or loathe him, the current money is on the resignation leading to Sisi’s candidacy in elections expected to be held soon. 

    Sources: Reuters, The Guardian

  2. Former Ukraine President Faces Arrest

    A warrant has been issued for the arrest of former President Viktor Yanukovych, who was stripped of his powers on Saturday. Ukraine’s interim interior minister said Yanukovych and other officials face charges for “mass murder of peaceful citizens.” Yanukovych’s location is unknown, but he was last seen on the Crimean peninsula. Parliament speaker Olexander Turchynov, who has been acting as interim president since Saturday, has indicated that Ukraine seeks European integration. Russia has responded by recalling its ambassador. Despite all the changes, some protesters are still roaming the streets, determined to demonstrate until Ukraine has a new president.

    Sources: Al Jazeera, BBCReuters

  3. Last Words From Sochi: Diplomacy, Debt and Some Laughs

    For Russia, the Olympics was always about winning — on the international stage and the podium. The jury’s still out about the lasting impact of Sochi, but the host country of the most expensive Games ever decisively struck gold with 33 medals overall. Canada edged ahead of the U.S. in the gold medal count by one after beating Sweden in Sunday’s hockey showdown. This left the U.S. in fourth place for gold but second in the overall medal count. In yesterday’s Closing Ceremony, Russian organizers were unable to resist a final cheeky tribute to their own Opening Ceremony Olympic ring gaffe.

    Sources: The GuardianBBC

  4. U.S. Seeks Extradition of Mexican Drug Lord

    Drug cops everywhere rejoiced over the weekend when Joaquin Guzman, Mexico’s reputed cartel godfather, was finally captured. Better known as “El Chapo,” Guzman’s organization has allegedly left a trail of blood in Mexico for years and could be responsible for up to 80 percent of the drug trade in major U.S. cities. Guzman has been in hiding since his 2001 escape from a high-security prison. But now that he’s been found, there’s a question of where he will stand trial. Despite the Mexican ambassador’s objections, the U.S. is now vigorously pursuing an extradition order.

    Source: The Guardian

  5. NSA Reportedly Steps Up German Surveillance

    After receiving an order from President Barack Obama to stop spying on the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the NSA has reportedly decided to step up its surveillance of other German officials, including Merkel’s close confidants. A German newspaper said its report stemmed from information from an NSA employee in Germany, and that Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere was one of the spying targets. Revelations about the NSA’s close monitoring of Merkel sparked a major controversy last year, and so far Berlin has not managed to seal a no-spying deal with Washington. 

    Source: Reuters

  6. Uganda Anti-Gay Legislation to be Signed, U.S. and South Korea Upset North with Joint Exercises

    Ghostbusters star and writer Harold Ramis dies at 69. (ABC).

    Longest-serving member of U.S. Congress in history to retire. (NYT).

    Ugandan president expected to sign anti-gay bill. (Al Jazeera).

    U.S., South Korea begin joint military exercises. (DW).

    Oldest known Holocaust survivor dies aged 110. (The Guardian).

    Doctors report polio-like disease in California. (BBC).


  1. World’s Oldest Crystal Dated to Earth’s Inception

    Researchers have found themselves a real gem, and although it measures just a touch wider than a human hair, it is causing scientists to rethink our planet’s early years. Two tests have dated the blue speck of rock — unearthed on an Australian sheep ranch — to 4.4 billion years ago, just a bit shy of the age of our planet. The Earth’s crust appeared just 160 million years after the very formation of the solar system, and the rock’s age suggests that the Earth had low enough temperatures to sustain oceans earlier than previously believed. Nothing like a having a microscopic specimen upend what our textbooks told us. 

    Sources: Reuters, NPR

  2. Dancing New York Seniors Help Revive Community

    A Brooklyn neighborhood better known for crime and poverty than its love of dance is being reinvigorated by local seniors taking their magic moves to the streets. Brownsville retirees as old as 97 are using the dance classes to overcome isolation and forge connections with younger generations. It’s good for the seniors’ health, but it’s also great for the neighborhood’s community spirit — young people and even a few drug addicts are stopping to chat with the gyrating older generations. Clearly, it’s never too late to be dancing in the streets.

    Source: NPR

  3. French Lingerie Prices Take a Plunge

    Low inflation and economic uncertainty have an upside: cheaper Parisian panties. Buying one’s undies in the French capital is a world-renowned luxury for women. And now they have even more reason to say “oui” to snapping up lacy underthings between their strolls along the Seine. Thanks to falling inflation, prices for women’s lingerie have dropped by 2.2 percent, and clothing prices in general are 4 percent cheaper. If the trend continues, the French may help offset their economic woes by slipping into something a little more comfortable. 

    Source: Quartz

  4. Comcast and Netflix Announce Plan to Team Up

    The largest U.S. cable company and broadband provider has announced a new deal with Netflix. The on-demand streaming media provider will pay Comcast for faster, more reliable access to Comcast customers. The deal comes 10 days after the cable giant agreed to buy Time Warner Cable, which stands to bring Comcast service to a third of American homes. It may be good news for both Netflix and Comcast customers, who stand to enjoy improved streaming quality, but it raises concerns about possibly affecting subscription prices later. It’s unlikely to get much applause from the competition either.

    Source: NYT

  5. World Bids Adieu to Last of ‘The Sound of Music’ Von Trapps

    Maria von Trapp, the last of the Trapp Family Singers made famous by the musical, has died at age 99. The film version saw her as Louisa, so as not to confuse her with her father’s second wife, Maria, played by Julie Andrews. Maria and her family escaped Nazi-occupied Austria, and the family won critical acclaim for their musical performances. In real life, the von Trapps settled in Vermont, where they ran a ski lodge.

    Sources: NPRThe Guardian

  6. Collins Becomes First Openly Gay Athlete to Play in NBA

    Jason Collins made history last night as the first openly gay player in a major American pro-sports game. He signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, enabling him to play against the Lakers. Collins announced he is gay last April, but he hadn’t had a chance to play professionally since. And until yesterday, no openly gay athlete had played in any of the traditional U.S. professional sports leagues. While Nets’ fans cheered for the team’s 108-102 victory, many more were applauding the dawn of a truly open playing field.

    Sources: NYTUSA Today