The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Promising Lead in Hunt for Missing Plane

    An Australian vessel is believed to have the “most promising lead” in the hunt for Malaysia Flight MH370 when it tracked pings for more than two hours, suspected of coming from the plane’s flight recorder. The signals, detected by a “ping locator,” were consistent with those emitted by aircraft black boxes, said the head of the Australian search team. But he also cautioned that further confirmation is needed. The vessel is staying in the area as new ships steam toward the region to join the search.

    Sources: SMH, Malay Mail, SCMP, BBC, NYT

  2. Afghans Defy Taliban in Large Vote Turnout

    The votes are being counted after a larger-than-expected election turnout in Afghanistan and people are wondering: Have the Taliban lost their teeth? The insurgents claimed they launched more than 1,000 attacks and killed dozens during Sunday’s vote but officials said there were mostly only minor roadside bombs with a few deaths. Sixty percent of the nation’s 12 million eligible voters turned out. But the danger isn’t over. Early returns suggest many people voted along ethnic lines, signaling possible future conflict.

    Sources: Reuters, Washington Post

  3. Pro-Russian Separatists Seize Ukraine Buildings 

    Ukraine is facing a new crisis as gangs of pro-Russian separatists stormed at least five government buildings in three eastern cities. Protesters busted through doors and broke windows in buildings in Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv to raise the Russian flag and call for a referendum on independence. Ukraine’s interior minister accused Vladimir Putin of ordering the “separatist disorder” near the Russian border, and vowed to oust protesters without bloodshed. Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov canceled a trip to Lithuania to call an emergency session of the heads of the nation’s security services.

    Sources: BBC, Reuters, Mashable

  4. Hollywood Actor Mickey Rooney Dies at 93 

    America’s beloved actor, who started his career on the silver screen when he was six, has died at the age of 93. Mickey Rooney passed away at his North Hollywood home. The Brooklyn-born son of vaudeville entertainers sang, danced and joked his way through some 200 movies in an 87-year career in the industry. “I’ve been short all my life,” Rooney quipped in his memoir. “If anyone wonders what my dying wish will be, I’ll tell them: ‘I’ll have a short bier.’”

    Sources: USA Today, Hollywood Reporter, NYT


  1. New Drugs Could Stop Cancers in Their Tracks

    Researchers have announced advances in treatments for both lung and breast cancers. In a clinical trial, a drug cut in half the chance of breast cancer progressing in patients. It did not significantly prolong survival rates but researchers hope that the drug can be used to halt the progression of the disease while other medicines are used to treat it. Meanwhile, a blood test that analyzes DNA has shown significant promise in early diagnoses of lung cancer and in tracking the disease, offering a lifeline to sufferers.

    Sources: NPR, NYT, WSJ (sub)

  2. Nine-Month-Old Baby Charged With Attempted Murder

    Police in Pakistan booked a toddler on attempted murder charges after his family reportedly threw bricks at cops trying to collect an unpaid gas bill. The nine-month-old boy was photographed and fingerprinted at a police station, and was booked in a courtroom as he was held by his grandfather. How the baby was directly implicated in the murder attempt was unclear. After local media attention sparked a furious public response, the official who registered the charges was suspended. 

    Source: CNN

  3. Web Use in the U.S. Linked to Decline of Religious Belief

    Those who worship at the altar of the Internet apparently have far less energy to devote to religion, a new study finds. Between 1990 and 2011, some 25 million Americans lost their religion and, according to research published in the MIT Technology Review, the increasing use of the Internet could account for 25 percent of that drop. The findings raise some interesting questions such as whether religious institutions should invest more in their online presence to add followers. Pope Francis may have 3.8 million of them on Twitter, but he has a long way to go to match Lady Gaga’s 41.2 million.

    Sources: CNET, Christian Post, MIT Technology Review

  4. Voting Opens to Choose Next NASA Spacesuit

    The U.S. space agency has launched an online contest to decide the fashion fate of future astronauts. Members of the public can now vote for their favorite next-generation spacesuit. The contest features three different designs for the Z-2 suit, which will replace the current Z-1 suit now worn by astronauts on the International Space Station. Designers, engineers, and physicists teamed up to design the suits, which range from ocean-inspired gray to luminescent green and purple. The winning spacesuit will be tested next year before taking to the stars.

    Source: USA Today

  5. Oxford Wins Big Over Cambridge in Annual University Race

    Oxford has come away from this year’s Boat Race with its biggest win over Cambridge in almost 40 years. More than 250,000 tourists, students, and Londoners turned out in the rain to watch the university teams go head-to-head on the River Thames. Cambridge’s race turned sour early on when a clash of oars slowed their boat, giving Oxford a widening gap to cruise to victory in the 160th Boat Race. These rowers were no ordinary students though: Oxford’s lead rower took bronze in the 2012 Olympics.

    Sources: The Guardian, The Telegraph