The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Obama Warns Putin as Moscow Readies Law to Annex Crimea

    Crimea has spoken, and Vladimir Putin was listening. Russia’s parliament plans to pass legislation allowing Crimea to join the “motherland” following yesterday’s referendum in which 96.8 percent voted in favor of secession. Crimea’s Tartar community largely boycotted the vote, which has been rejected by the U.S. and other Western nations. President Obama told Putin the vote would never be recognized by the international community. EU and U.S. leaders imposed sanctions today, but such measures seem to be doing little to avert the Cold War-style crisis.

    Sources: ReutersNYTDW, Christian Science Monitor, BBC

  2. China Lashes Out as Australia Takes Lead in Southern Search for Missing Jetliner

    An op-ed in China today asks why Malaysian authorities waited a week before announcing that missing flight MH370 may have been deliberately diverted – a revelation that broke over the weekend. Malaysia said investigations indicate the plane was redirected towards either Central Asia or the southern Indian Ocean. So far, searches by 20 nations have come up with nothing, leaving the families of 239 missing passengers in utter despair. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has offered a bit of hope, saying his country will lead the southern search for the missing plane.  

    Sources: BBCDW

  3. Beer Producers and Politicians March Out on St. Patrick’s Day Parades

    Two of America’s biggest St. Patrick’s Day parades are less boozy this year. After parade organizers refused to let LGBT rights groups march as openly gay in New York City and Boston, Guinness, Sam Adams and Heineken all pulled sponsorships. To show their support for LGBT inclusion, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, the city’s first Irish-American mayor in two decades, refused to march in Sunday’s parade, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was absent from today’s march. Martin and Bill, the next round’s on us.

    Sources: Al JazeeraPeopleBuzzfeedNPR

  4. Paris Tells Half of Drivers to Leave Cars at Home

    Pollution is fogging the French capital, and Parisian authorities are fighting back. Today, the odds have it; police are halting cars with even license plates from entering the City of Lights. The temporary scheme will see vehicles with odd and even license plates allowed into the city on alternating days. A visible smog hangs over Paris owing to a series of warm days followed by cold nights. Officials may have angered drivers with the ban, but there was free public transport over the weekend. Air quality levels will determine whether only even-plated cars get the green light tomorrow.

    Sources: The Guardian, DW, BBC


  1. The Secret to Success May Be Learning to Fail in School

    Reading, writing, ’rithmetic — and grit? Schools are increasingly embracing lessons that teach children how to get back on the proverbial horse. Too many kids praised to the heavens turn into adults who are quick to quit, the thinking goes, so maybe teaching them at a young age to persevere despite setbacks can predict future achievement as much as any “A,” if not more so. Detractors call the grit lessons a fad distracting schools from focusing on more important improvements like, say, better teaching. But some students, at least, say they’ve seen a difference already.

    Source: NPR

  2. NASA Study Says Modern Civilization Faces Collapse

    In Hollywood, NASA always helps with last-ditch efforts to save humanity by diverting asteroids. But a real-life study funded by the space program cites more terrestrial dangers: inequality and consumption. It says historical data shows the rise and fall of civilizations throughout time and issued a warning about our own possible collapse thanks to wealth disparities and overconsumption. Much like in the movies, though, NASA has a way to save the day — by reducing consumption, redistributing resources and slowing population growth. No problem then.

    Sources: The GuardianMetroExaminer

  3. Acoustic Cloak Diverts Sound Waves 

    A newly developed acoustic cloak masks the object it covers by rerouting sound waves. Developed by researchers at Duke University, the cloak uses a complex pattern of perforated plastic to mask objects from sounds. It could be useful for the military as a way of shielding underwater objects from sonar detection. Engineers also hope to use it as a means for improving the acoustic performance of concert halls or opera houses. For those still awaiting their letters from Hogwarts, it’s the closest thing yet to invisibility. 

    Source: Wired

  4. Statistician Nate Silver’s Site Set for Launch

    Silver has little time for conventional journalism. After working as The New York Times’ in-house analyst, Silver is today launching a new form of his FiveThirtyEight with ESPN. Though he claims to hate the term “data-driven” journalism, Silver’s project is all about statistics. From sports and politics to lifestyle and science, FiveThirtyEight aims to cut past the flowery language and get to the cold, hard facts. His new project puts him at the head of a 19-strong team, meaning he’ll have to transition quickly from big-hitter to successful player-manager.

    Source: New York Magazine

  5. Lady Gaga Sparks Outrage With Vomit Performance

    The controversial singer shocked audiences at the SXSW festival by performing with vomit on her. X-Factor judge Demi Lovato has spoken out in anger, suggesting that the use of vomit artist Millie Brown served as a celebrity endorsement of eating disorders. During Lady Gaga’s performance, Brown could be seen forcing her fingers down her throat before vomiting fluorescent paint onto the singer. With as many as 20 million women and 10 million men in the U.S. suffering from an eating disorder at some point during their lives, some are calling it a sick stunt. 

    Source: Digital Spy

  6. March Madness Gets Into Full Swing With NCAA Tournament Field Selected

    It was obvious that the top-ranked Florida Gators would get top billing in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, set to tip off Tuesday. But below that, the picture was muddy. Sixty eight teams hope to cut down the nets on April 7 in Texas, with Arizona, Virginia and Wichita State joining Florida as regional top seeds. The surprise inclusion is North Carolina State, which analytics guru Ken Pomeroy ranked worse than 16 bid-less teams. Wolfpack, put on your dancing shoes.

    Sources: Ken PomeroyCBSESPNBracket Matrix