The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. North and South Korea Exchange Fire at Flashpoint Border

    A military exercise took a dangerous turn when North and South Korea launched artillery shells at one another across their disputed western maritime border. North Korea had announced live-fire drills along the sea border. When shells landed in South Korean waters, fire was returned with K-9 Howitzers, said a South Korean official. Residents in the south were taken to shelters, but there was no immediate word of injuries. The border was drawn by the United Nations after the Korean War, but North Korea has never recognized it.

    Sources: BBC, CNN, SMH

  2. Ebola Outbreak in Guinea Sparks Epidemic Fear

    Since January, 78 people out of 122 suspected cases of the frightening disease have died, with 22 cases confirmed by lab tests, according to the Guinea health ministry. The outbreak centers on the nation’s southeast coast, and includes cases in Conakry, a port city of 2 million. But suspected cases have erupted hundreds of miles apart. Sierra Leone has begun a screening process along the shared northern border with Guinea, and Senegal closed its border with Guinea and halted weekly markets, Reuters reported, in a bid to halt the spread.

    Sources: Reuters, The Guardian

  3. Talks Between Russia and U.S. End in Disagreement

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry failed to achieve a meeting of minds with Russia’s foreign minister during “frank” talks in Paris yesterday. Kerry demanded a “pullback” of the estimated 40,000 Russian troops massing on Ukraine’s border, but Sergey Lavrov insisted that Russia would continue to defend the rights of ethnic Russians in Ukraine. Lavrov also demanded European and U.S. support for a federalized Ukraine, with eastern and southern regions getting greater autonomy from Kiev. Moscow claims that “fascists” have taken over the Ukrainian government but insists there are no plans to invade.

    Sources: Guardian, NYTNPR

  4. Embattled Turkish PM Claims Election Victory

    Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared victory in Turkey’s local elections, with preliminary results indicating a big win for his Justice and Development Party. Sunday’s election was seen as a referendum on his recent actions, ranging from corruption allegations to protest crackdowns. Erdogan has received heavy criticism in recent weeks for banning access to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube — popular channels among his most outspoken critics. In his victory speech, Erdogan had an ominous message for his opponents: “They will pay and account for their deeds.” 

    Sources: Al Jazeera, Middle East OnlineWSJ (sub)

  5. U.S. Safety Agency Failed to Investigate Crash Deaths

    Federal regulators opted not to launch an inquiry into General Motors cars — twice — despite four fatal crashes, according to a memo released by a U.S. House subcommittee. GM itself apparently approved a faulty ignition switch design in 2002 although the manufacturer warned that it didn’t meet specifications. Thirteen deaths have been linked to the problem, and GM has recalled 2.6 million cars. CEO Mary Barra — who has already offered a personal apology — will testify before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee tomorrow.

    Sources: NYT, Reuters, USA Today 

  6. UN Report Details Climate Change Risks, MH370 Relatives Demand Apology

    U.N. warns that global warming impacts are “severe, pervasive, irreversible.” (Washington Post).

    Chinese relatives of MH370 demand a Malaysian apology. (The Guardian).

    Deadline day is here, but the jury’s still out on Obamacare. (Reuters).

    Pakistan’s former leader Musharraf charged with treason. (BBC).

    Major League Baseball fans celebrate Opening Day. (USA Today).


  1. Nordic Town Relocates to Dodge Drilling Trouble

    When mining began to shift the earth beneath Sweden’s northernmost town, it could have spelled drilling doom. But instead of halting extraction, the 18,000-strong town of Kiruna is packing up and moving away from the iron mine. In an unprecedented operation, the town center — including 3,000 homes, shops, schools and a health center — will be shifted two miles east. Some heritage buildings will be exactly reproduced, while others will be redesigned.  

    Source: CSM

  2. Marriage Linked to Healthier Hearts

    Married people are less likely than divorced, widowed or single people to suffer from any type of heart problem, according to a study of 3.5 million Americans. The findings hold true for either gender, any age and despite other heart disease risk factors. Why the connection? Researchers speculate that it might be because spouses help look out for each other’s health, encouraging better diets, exercise and keeping doctors’ appointments. So a partner’s nagging could just save your life. 

    Source: CBS

  3. Phone Company Launches Line of African Emoticons

    Few people notice that in the world of emoticons, virtually everyone is yellow and perfectly round. But in the last week the campaign for a more diverse range of emoticons has gathered speed. Apple announced that it was working to develop a more diverse range of emoji characters, but an African company has beaten them to it. Oju Africa — a division of the manufacturing giant Mi-Fone — has created a full range of “afro” emoticons. What’s more, Android users are for once getting access before the iOS set.

    Source: Ars Technica  

  4. New Book Exposes Dark Side of Wall Street

    “The United States stock market, the most iconic market in global capitalism, is rigged,” according to Michael Lewis, whose new book, Flash Boys, hits the shelves today. According to the financial journalist, high-speed traders use legal supercomputers to make billions of trades a second, cutting in front of regular investors. Some traders have refuted the claims, arguing that high-speed trading is a natural market evolution and that Lewis is simply Wall Street’s boy who cried wolf.

    Sources: Bloomberg, International Business Times

  5. Kentucky, UConn Best Michigan Teams to Make Final Four

    With just 2.3 seconds on the clock, Kentucky freshman guard Aaron Harrison drained a three-pointer to edge past the mighty University of Michigan and win his school a berth in the Final Four. The state’s day only got worse when seventh-seeded Connecticut upset fourth-seeded Michigan State 60-54 to grab its Final Four slot. The Kentucky Wildcats will take on the Wisconsin Badgers next Saturday in the national semi-finals, while the Huskies will meet Florida, the nation’s top-ranked team.

    Sources: ABC, CBS, Hartford Courant