The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Ukraine Launches ‘Anti-Terrorist Operation’

    Acting president Oleksandr Turchynov announced this morning that Ukraine had launched a campaign against pro-Russian separatists in the east, but the protesters appeared to be fortifying their positions. Turchynov told parliament the effort would be conducted in a “responsible and balanced manner” just a day after asking the UN to send in peacekeepers, which was seen as a desperate plea given Russia’s power to veto Security Council votes. President Obama, meanwhile, spoke with Vladimir Putin by phone, encouraging the Russian leader to reign in the separatists.

    Sources: NYTUSA Today, AP, BBC

  2. Snowden Revelations Spell Pulitzer Wins for Papers

    The Washington Post and The Guardian newspapers have been named as winners of the prestigious Pulitzer Prize Public Service award for their coverage of the NSA’s widespread secret surveillance. But the man behind the leaks, Edward Snowden — who called the prizes “vindication” — still faces charges of espionage and theft. The Boston Globe won the breaking news award for its Boston Marathon bombing coverage, and the Center for Public Integrity won for investigative reporting about the denial of health benefits to miners with black lung. Mississippi novelist Donna Tartt, author of The Goldfinch, took home the prize for fiction. 

    Sources: Pulitzer Prize CommitteeWashington PostThe GuardianNPR, USA Today

  3. Google Acquires Drone Maker Titan

    The Internet giant is taking its online supremacy battle to the skies by purchasing a company that makes high-altitude, solar-powered drones. Google confirmed that it bought Titan Aerospace — which is trying to develop jet-sized drones that can fly nonstop for years — for an undisclosed sum. Google executives hope drones can be used to offer online access to remote areas not served by telephone or cellphone towers. The Titan Aerospace team will remain in New Mexico, where they have been based since the firm was founded two years ago.

    Sources: CNNWall Street Journal

  4. Asian Smog Whips Up Stronger Pacific Storms

    Air pollution in Asia is being tied to more dramatic storms over the Pacific, wreaking further havoc on weather patterns in the Northern Hemisphere, according to researchers at the California Institute of Technology. The scientists made the discovery using computer models, which demonstrated that polluting particles blow toward the north Pacific where they interact with water droplets in the air. The interaction creates denser, taller clouds and heavier precipitation, especially in winter. The more powerful storms, in turn, impact weather systems throughout the world. 

    Source: BBC


  1. Young Girl Tweets Terror Threat to Airline

    A Dutch girl, 14, was arrested in Rotterdam after tweeting a “joke” to American Airlines about being a member of al-Qaeda and planning “something really big.” The airline tweeted back that her IP address was being forwarded to the FBI. The apologetic girl confessed she was only kidding. “I don’t have evil thoughts,” she said, bizarrely adding: “Plus I’m a white girl.” The prank apparently triggered a number of copycat tweets against both American and Southwest Airlines, neither of which have found the jokes at all funny.

    Sources: NY Daily NewsCNNDutch News, Washington Post

  2. Study Shows Men Often Grow Grumpy at Age 70 

    Happiness appears to have an expiration date. As men hit 50 and above they become happier, but once they reach 70 they become far more crotchety. A 15-year survey of mostly military veterans revealed that the presence of fewer obstacles and annoyances make it easier to hit half a century, but declines in health and cognition and the loss of loved ones cause grumpiness to take hold later on. And the grumpy old gents may be on to something: Those who voice unhappiness are more likely to get attention than those who suffer quietly.

    Source: NPR

  3. British Woman Crowdfunds $7,500 for Boob Job

    Gemini Smith, a 23-year-old British undertaker, recently had breast augmentation surgery funded solely by benevolent online “investors.” Smith said she felt self-conscious about her 34A chest, so she turned to the My Free Implants website to raise the $7,500 she needed to move up to a 34DD. The catch? Women on the website are expected to web-chat with investors in exchange for “chat credits.” Not to worry, though, because Smith says she never felt any pressure to do anything she was uncomfortable with on the site. 

    Source: Daily Dot

  4. Spy Mural Raises Suspicion of Banksy Job

    Like a spook in the night, elusive British artist Banksy is believed to have slipped out of the shadows to skewer the intelligence community. A crew of trenchcoat-wearing, gadget-loaded, eavesdropping snoops have been painted onto a house wall next to a phone booth. The mural, painted overnight, shares a neighborhood with Britain’s GCHQ — similar to the NSA — and was done in the style of the mysterious artist. “It’s taking a swipe at GCHQ and commenting on the establishment, which is something [Banksy] does very well,” said a gallery owner.

    Sources: NPR, BBC, Gloucester Echo

  5. Miami Loss Gives Indiana Top Seed in NBA Playoffs

    When the season started, the question was how easily the Miami Heat would waltz through a weak Eastern Conference to the NBA Finals. But after a 21-point loss to Washington on Monday — in which stars LeBron James and Chris Bosh rested — the Heat were eliminated from contention for the top seed. That honor now goes to the Indiana Pacers, who go into the last day of the regular season with a one-game lead and a tiebreak over Miami. It’s a relief for Indiana, who have struggled offensively over the last months of a grueling schedule.

    Sources: ESPN, CBS