The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Australians Spot Objects That May Be Plane Debris

    Officials are investigating at least two large objects in the Indian Ocean, seen on satellite images, as possible remnants of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. The “reasonable in size” but “indistinct” objects reportedly constitute credible sightings of possible debris, a spokesman for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said. Air Force planes have been dispatched to the area, but Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott has warned that the objects — located about 1550 miles southwest of Perth — may be “extremely difficult” to find. The U.S. Navy is set to join the search.

    Sources: BBCAPSMHVOA

  2. New Evidence of Iraqi Atrocities Caught on Video

    Torture, executions, and humiliating videos have become regular practice on both sides of a war between Iraq and a Sunni militant group tied to al Qaeda, according to a new report. The fighting has spurred 380,000 to flee their homes. Iraqi troops, operating without key equipment in conditions described as “hellish,” say they’re only doing to their opponents what’s wreaked upon them. The U.S. has started training Iraqi Special Forces, and some of the fighting has spilled over into Syria’s civil war. An Iraqi officer calls some of the actions “normal.” Let’s hope not.

    Source: Reuters

  3. Ukraine Plans to Pull Troops Out of Crimea

    So much for a face off. Ukrainian leaders have drawn up plans to evacuate military personnel from the region now annexed by Russia. Pro-Russian forces seized two naval bases in Crimea on Wednesday, detaining Kiev’s navy chief. Ukraine had threatened to “take appropriate measures” if he wasn’t released. Now that troops are preparing to leave, the commander has been set free. European leaders are meeting today to discuss tougher sanctions against Russia, and UN chief Ban Ki-moon is meeting Russian leaders in Moscow in the hope of securing a diplomatic solution.

    Sources: BBCWashington PostHurriyet Daily NewsNYT

  4. Rand Paul Calls for NSA Probe in Berkeley Speech

    The Libertarian senator used the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement at the University of California, Berkeley, to call for an overhaul of the intelligence community in what could be an early stump speech. “If Congress is spied upon without their permission, who exactly is in charge of the government?” he asked a 400-strong crowd. Paul may seek the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. There aren’t too many who can get a standing ovation at both the Conservative Political Action Conference and Berkeley, noted Professor Robert Reich.

    Sources: San Jose Mercury NewsPoliticoNYT

  5. Genius Machine Takes on Cancer 

    IBM’s Watson computer bested Jeopardy champions, and now it’s taking on a bigger opponent: cancer. The company announced that Watson will look at devising the best drug treatments for cancer. The first effort will involve 25 patients with a rare brain cancer. Each patient’s genome and tumor will undergo DNA sequencing, and then Watson will compare the two to come up with possible customized treatments. The computer’s strength is ingesting a massive volume of information, quickly sifting facts and “learning” from trial results. This is one battle man would happily concede to a machine.

    Sources: Ars Technica, Forbes, USA Today


  1. Rare Predator Dies Mating With Mouthy Male

    That was a rough ride, honey. A rare crocodile gave up the ghost at an Amsterdam zoo while mating with a dominant male who suffocated her in a deadly show of machismo. The male false gavial croc typically uses his mouth to hold down a female to show his superiority, said a zoo spokesman. But this play got out of hand, and the female died with bite marks all over her body. There are only 2,500 false gavials left in the wild. It seems the females need better protection during sex.

    Sources: SMHAustralian Broadcasting Corporation

  2. What If Canada Were the 51st State?

    If you think Crimea is complicated, imagine a political merger between the U.S. and Canada. That’s exactly what Washington D.C.’s Woodrow Wilson Center did in a recent “thought experiment” where it weighed the pros and cons of bringing the northern neighbor into the union. Canadians say it’ll never happen, but some economists suggest that both countries could benefit from doing away with border regulations and sharing energy resources. A North American equivalent of the EU might not be as far-fetched as it sounds, but let’s hope if things go wrong people don’t do a South Park — and “Blame Canada.”

    Source: The Guardian

  3. Breakthrough Provides Hope for Alzheimer’s Sufferers

    A protein normally found in developing fetuses may be the brain’s key to fending off Alzheimer’s. Harvard scientists found the protein, called REST, also appeared in the brains of healthy older people, potentially to defend them from age-related stresses. Brains can be filled with Alzheimer’s-associated plaques, but as long as REST is present and active, individuals do not seem to get dementia. In Alzheimer’s patients, it was found to be absent or mostly depleted, paving the way for future research on a way to halt this heartbreaking disease.

    Source: NYT

  4. Russell ‘Noah’ Crowe Seeks Pope’s Blessing

    Everyone’s a critic, except the pope it seems. Despite plaintive tweets from Crowe encouraging Pope Francis to watch his latest star vehicle, Noah, the pontiff’s spokesman said it was a no-go. Crowe did manage to get a blessing at the Vatican yesterday at the pope’s general audience. But he failed to get an endorsement for his movie, which has been criticized by some religious leaders for taking too many liberties with the Bible story. Publicity stunts clearly don’t float the pope’s boat.

    Sources: Hollywood ReporterNew York Daily News, USA Today

  5. Andy Murray Ends Partnership With Former Great Ivan Lendl

    One of the most successful coaching partnerships in tennis ended yesterday. Since hiring Lendl in 2011, Murray has played calmer, better tennis than ever before, culminating in last summer’s Wimbledon win. But the once hotheaded Scot has struggled to regain his form this year, slipping to world number six. There doesn’t seem to be any bad blood between the two, but Lendl’s departure raises two questions: Can Murray retain his Lendl-era calm and find a winning new coach?

    Sources: The GuardianESPN