The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Putin Signs Draft Treaty Annexing Crimea

    The move comes after Putin called the weekend’s referendum “democratic” in a parliamentary address today. The treaty still needs Russian parliamentary approval, but that’s considered a done deal. EU and U.S. sanctions against 32 Russian and Ukrainian officials don’t seem to have deterred Putin. On March 30, Crimea will move to Moscow time and adopt the Russian ruble within a month. But the currency has been weakened by the crisis, falling by 9.4 percent against the dollar this year alone. At that rate, Russia could soon be back in the red.

    Sources: NYT, Bloomberg, The Guardian, USA Today

  2. “Spectacular” Discovery Puts the Bang in Big Bang

    Yesterday may have been Day One of a ”whole new era of physics.” Researchers announced the detection of miniscule ripples in space-time formed in the first tremors of the Big Bang. The finding goes a long way to prove the theory of inflation, which holds that the cosmos experienced extremely rapid growth in its first infinitesimal fraction of a second. Physicists around the world are celebrating the breakthrough. According to Hakeem Oluseyi of the Florida Institute of Technology we can now “look directly at the origins of the universe.”

    Sources: BBC, Slate, Financial Times (sub)

  3. Hillary Clinton’s Ground Campaign Already Making Waves

    Technically the next U.S. presidential ballot is years away, but the Clinton faithful are quietly making inroads. A super PAC tied to the former secretary of state boasted earlier this month of ground operations in the vital primary state of Iowa, with representatives in 84 of 99 counties so far. Elsewhere, Ready for Hillary has started assisting other candidates, including tapping into Clinton’s 2 million strong supporter database. But some Democrats wonder if this Clinton initiative will siphon off funds better directed elsewhere in these tough off-year races. 

    Sources: McClatchy, Daily Beast

  4. Beijing Claims No Chinese Passengers Contributed to Plane Disappearance 

    A day after criticizing Malaysian authorities for withholding information about the missing plane’s diversion, China has announced that it has no reason to believe any of the Chinese citizens on board had terror links. It has also begun searching sections of its own territory based on possible flight trajectories. New information reveals that the plane’s deviation from its original course was probably done by someone with aviation experience. Twenty six countries are now involved in the search, but none of them seem to be getting warmer. 

    Sources: NYT, Deutsche Welle, South China Morning Post

  5. Thai Government will Lift State of Emergency

    As Bangkok’s protest movement dwindles, the Thai government is set to lift the state of emergency. In late January authorities were granted wide-ranging powers to respond to the disorder in Bangkok and surrounding provinces. A new “Internal Security Act” will take its place, but the move suggests that the country is moving towards normalization. Thais have protested against the government of PM Yingluck Shinawatra and the influence of her exiled brother Thaksin Shinawatra. But despite their anger, it seems the Shinawatra siblings have managed to wait out the protesters.

    Source: Al Jazeera


  1. Why Does a Bad Economy Make for Healthier Babies?

    Hard times make for healthier moms and babies, according to a recent Spanish study. When budgets are tight, mothers are more likely to stop stress-eating and shelling out for unhealthy habits like smoking. Without a working schedule, pregnant women also exercise more and get more sleep. This echoes a 2004 study, which found that when the U.S. economy stumbles, the number of birth defects falls. But, given that job loss still has drastic impacts on mental health (and your pocketbook), there are safer ways to improve your lifestyle than getting the professional boot.  

    Source: The Atlantic

  2. Fashion Designer L’Wren Scott Found Dead in Apparent Suicide

    Known for her understated yet sophisticated creations, fashion designer L’Wren Scott was found dead on Monday in her Manhattan home. Raised in Utah, Scott modernized the little black dress and designed for Oprah, Michelle Obama and Angelina Jolie, among others. But Scott’s professional life had floundered in recent years. A show last month was canceled due to production delays, and her company was facing multi-million dollar debts. Mick Jagger, her partner of thirteen years, received the news on arriving in Australia for tour dates with the Rolling Stones.

    Sources: NYT, The Guardian

  3. Vigorous Exercise Dramatically Cuts Risk of Flu

    If we all commit to regular exercise, 10 percent of flu cases could be avoided altogether. Research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has suggested that two and a half hours of vigorous exercise a week provides significant protection against the virus. However, the duration and intensity of the exercise is important — with moderate levels of exercise conferring no protective benefit on participants. You might want to hibernate on the sofa all winter, but the way to stave off a runny nose is to lace up your running shoes.

    Source: BBC

  4. Singer Behind Bars for Another Month

    Legal tips from Chris Brown: when on probation, take your drug tests and don’t tell your therapy group that you’re “good at using guns and knives.” Sadly, the singer himself had to learn the hard way. Yesterday he was refused bail by an LA judge on the basis of his probation violations. Given his steady rotation of incarceration, probation, and rehab, Brown’s only public performances of late have been on Los Angeles roadsides, where he picks up trash to fulfill his 750 required hours of community service.

    Sources: CNN, ABC

  5. FBI Investigates Former FIFA VP over World Cup Bribe Revelations

    How much is the greatest event in soccer worth? For Qatar’s top soccer official, Mohamed Bin Hammam, it’s worth $2 million in bribes to FIFA ex-vice president Jack Warner. Warner, his sons and a staff member are accused of receiving payments from Bin Hammam’s company just after Qatar’s bid was selected. But when Cayman Islands banks wouldn’t process the suspected funny money, Warner tried New York City and caught the attention of the FBI. The corruption revelations are just the latest in a series of scandals surrounding the 2022 Wold Cup. Whatever happened to the beautiful game?

    Sources: Telegraph, CBS