The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Ousted Ukrainian Leader Lambasts Protesters in First Appearance Since Fleeing

    Ex-President Viktor Yanukovych refuses to concede that he was ousted, instead saying he fled for his life. He also said he did not order anyone to shoot Kiev protesters, and accused the current leaders of “propagating violence.” He spoke at a press conference in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, continuing to assert that he remains Ukraine’s leader. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s general prosecutor has said he’ll ask Russia to extradite Yanukovych. But the former leader doesn’t appear very cowed. 

    Sources: CNN, BBC

  2. Fed Reserve’s Recovery Picture Boosts Market Performance

    The S&P 500 closed at an all-time high on Thursday, good news after the recent slowdown. The improvement is partly attributed to Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen’s assurance that the market had simply caught a chill during the period of unusually harsh weather. Speaking to the Senate Banking Committee, Yellen insisted that the Fed still intends to end bond purchases in the fall, as part of its move towards a tougher monetary policy. But she added that the stimulus rollback is not on a “preset course.” Even if we’re facing an equivalently hot summer, it seems that cool economic thinking will prevail. 

    Sources: ReutersUSA Today 

  3. British Spies Intercepted Users’ Sexually Explicit Webcam Images

    Britain’s surveillance agency GCHQ collected webcam images of nearly two million people via Yahoo chat, according to the latest Snowden revelations. The operation, known as Optic Nerve, has been described as the most far-reaching attack on net privacy to date. It aimed to create a massive image database, primarily including individuals not suspected of any wrongdoing. The program was developed with NSA assistance and is not forbidden from targeting Americans. The information gathered includes a large store of sexually explicit images. It seems the state is now — quite literally — in the bedroom.

    Sources: The GuardianTIME

  4. Plan to Empower Young Men from Minority Backgrounds

    President Obama has announced a $200 million, five-year initiative to support young men from black and Hispanic communities in an economy that has not been kind to them. In the past, the president has been heavily criticized by African American community leaders for neglecting the groups that bear the brunt of America’s socioeconomic disparities. Drawing on his own experience as a disenfranchised young African American, Obama outlined an initiative based on public-private partnerships, which will encourage philanthropic foundations, business and civic leaders to discover new ways to empower marginalized young men.

    Source: NYT

  5. Russian Military Reportedly Patrol Crimea Airport

    Ukraine’s interior minister has accused Russia of “occupying” Belbek International Airport in the Crimea port city of Sevastopol, an action he sees as tantamount to “armed invasion.” The action has fueled fears of Crimean secession a day after armed men raised the Russian flag over the Ukraine’s only Russian-majority region. Unidentified armed men were also spotted on Friday at another airport in the Crimean capital Simferopol. Since fugitive and former president Viktor Yanukovych fled last week, Kiev has been relatively calm. But many fear that the latest developments could trigger a civil war.

    Sources: NYTDW, Telegraph


  1. Elephant Herds Offer Comfort by Cuddling 

    We’ve long known of their intelligence and social skills, but new research suggests elephants share our fondness for the group hug. Joshua Plotnik, an elephant specialist based in Thailand, found that when a fellow elephant is in distress, others in the herd offer up their trunks to form a comforting protective shield. This so-called “consolation behavior” is relatively rare amongst animals, with only apes, wolves and some birds performing similar rituals. Even for the world’s largest land mammals, some problems can only be solved by a cuddle.

    Source: NYT

  2. Diet Coke Fails to Add Industry Fizz

    When Diet Coke was launched in 1982, the sugar-free alternative aimed to draw in consumers looking for a healthier drink. But diet soda is failing to revive an industry often associated with obesity and tooth decay. Since 2000, sales of soda drinks have only risen by 18 percent, and the increase is largely attributed to population growth and economic development. Strangely, U.S. diet soda sales have fallen sharply over the last five years, while sales of Coca-Cola have increased and Pepsi sales have remained stable. It seems that for consumers, sweeteners just don’t give enough of a sugar high. 

    Source: Quartz

  3. Japan Launches Satellite to Spring Clean Space

    The idea of a gigantic magnet floating in outer space may suggest a low-budget space thriller, but it actually describes Japan’s efforts to take out the cosmic trash. Today, the country will launch its Space Tethered Autonomous Robotic Satellite-2, which has been designed to give Earth’s cluttered orbital space a long-overdue spring clean. The satellite works by using the Earth’s magnetic field to slow down bits of space debris. The junk then dissolves as it re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere. Once the old satellites, hardware and scraps have been cleared, contemporary missions will enjoy smoother star sailing.

    Source: The Guardian

  4. Israelis Donate Copies of Anne Frank Diary to Japan

    The Israeli embassy in Japan has donated more than 300 copies of Anne Frank’s well-known memoir to Tokyo libraries, where copies of the book were recently vandalized. Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl is extremely popular in Japan, where sales are second only to the U.S. Police are investigating the surprising act of vandalism in a country with little history of anti-Semitism. Israeli officials have expressed trust in the authorities, stating that one act of vandalism should not be taken to represent the attitudes of the Japanese people.

    Sources: BBCDW

  5. French Soccer Star Banned Over Gesture 

    Nicolas Anelka has received a five-match ban and a fine of $134,000 from the English Football Association following accusations of anti-Semitism. During a match, Anelka made the “quenelle” gesture  also known as an inverted Nazi salute. Anelka denies accusations of racism, claiming his action was an “anti-establishment” display of solidarity with his friend, French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, inventor of the “quenelle.” Footballing bodies have introduced numerous anti-racism programs in recent years, but it seems the world’s most popular sport just can’t seem to kick out its players’ bad behavior.

    Source: The Guardian