The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Boston Remembers Victims as Terrorists Kidnap Nigerian Schoolgirls

    Bostonians gathered to pay tribute to the marathon bombing victims in a ceremony that marked the anniversary of the blasts. Things took a disturbing turn when police were called to investigate — and later detonated — two unattended bags near the site of the marathon’s finish line. In Nigeria, meanwhile, more than 100 schoolgirls were kidnapped a day after dozens of people were killed in a bus station bombing in the capital, Abuja. The militant group Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the bombing but made no comment on the abduction, for which it is also believed to be responsible. 84 girls are still missing. 

    Sources: Boston GlobeBBCAl Jazeera, Reuters, CNN

  2. Barack Obama Visits Asia, Focusing on Economics and Security

    The president will spend Monday rolling Easter eggs on the White House’s South Lawn before devoting the rest of the week to rolling with Asian leaders. Starting in Japan, the trip will incorporate visits to South Korea, the Philippines and Malaysia. The intention is to strengthen U.S. diplomatic, economic and security ties with the Asia-Pacific region as part of the administration’s highly publicized “pivot to Asia.” It is also intended to make up for the president’s cancellation of an Asian trip in the midst of last October’s government shutdown.

    Sources: Washington Post, Reuters

  3. Economies Suffer as Ukraine Crisis Deepens

    Russia teeters on the edge of a recession, Ukraine is close to bankruptcy and Western inaction carries a hefty price tag. President Putin’s domestic popularity is soaring, but with $70 billion in capital leaving the country and sharp declines in the stock market, that could soon change. Meanwhile, Ukraine will likely require $30 billion in international loans over the next two years, with the economy set to contract by as much as 5 percent. And if the crisis continues, Europe and America will pay in the form of global instability and a volatile commodities market.

    Sources: NYT, Quartz, The Economist

  4. What the Pistorius Trial Says about Race and Violence in South Africa

    Oscar Pistorius’ claim that he killed his girlfriend because he mistook her for an intruder has prompted international skepticism. But his defense team has emphasized the panic white South Africans feel in the face of potential black violence, even though most violent crime is against black residents in poor areas. Only Pistorius really knows what he was thinking that night. But his defense, that it was acceptable to use lethal force against a — presumably black — figure who had yet to pose a threat, raises uncomfortable questions about white South Africa’s perceptions of crime, and the relative worth of black lives.

    Sources: New Yorker, New Republic

  5. Are College Athletes Being Shielded from Prosecution?

    When college football star Jameis Winston was accused of sexual assault, Tallahassee police failed to conduct timely interviews, resulting in lost video and witness evidence. In fact, the police investigation was reportedly so riddled with errors that when the story broke three weeks later, there was little chance the player would ever see trial. Under Florida State policy, a student athlete charged with a crime cannot compete until cleared. While we don’t know whether or not he was guilty, the fact that Winston avoided charges altogether raises questions over whether sportsmen receive preferential treatment from universities or, more worryingly, from the law.

    Source: NYT


  1. Inside the Resegregated Classrooms of a Southern School District

    Sixty years after Brown vs. the Board of Education, segregation is back in Tuscaloosa, Ala. After the U.S. Justice Department eased its civil rights requirements on school segregation, many black kids found themselves attending under-resourced all-black schools, just like their grandparents. While there are no all-white schools, pernicious economic inequality is still hurting black families most. The black students who can afford it go to nicer schools — leaving some schools 99-percent black, almost entirely poor and even unable to get a young woman who is an honor student, class president and homecoming queen into college.

    Source: The Atlantic

  2. Google Glass Heralds the Tech-Wear Revolution

    Google Glass went on sale last week with a hefty $1,500 price tag, but it’s already becoming old news as wearable technology progresses from the personal to the intimate. Though there has been some resistance, the future promises gadgets small enough to be completely invisible. Among the many products in development are sensory-equipped athletic socks, a bicyclist’s airbag collar and a dress that turns transparent when the wearer is aroused. Wearable technology may enhance our lifestyles, but is it an almost literal case of the emperor’s new clothes?

    Source: CNN

  3. Allergies Will Hit Hard This Year, But We Have New Ways to Fight Back

    Sorry, allergy sufferers, the polar vortex has a parting gift for you. Thanks to the deep freeze, plants are just now coming out of hiding, releasing all their pollen in one sneezy nightmare for hay fever sufferers. But if your symptoms are so bad they trigger asthma, you may be in luck. A new inhaler is helping public health experts get ahead of the wheezing curve by GPS tracking the density of asthma symptoms. The rollout isn’t complete yet, but with more preventative solutions on the way, you’ll soon be able to take a deep breath.

    Sources: Mother Jones, New Republic

  4. Tracking Down the Most Influential Musicians You’ve Never Heard Of

    Elvie Thomas and Geeshie Wiley changed the course of American music, and then promptly disappeared. The women’s obscure, pre-blues record from 1930 influenced countless musicians and drew an obsessive following — from early 20th-century ethnomusicologists to the hipster music writers at But the album was made as an afterthought by a phonograph maker, and the performers were total unknowns. John Jeremiah Sullivan’s multimedia chronicle tells of his attempts to discover where the women came from and why they vanished. 

    Source: NYT Magazine

  5. Human Traffickers Send Death Threats to Cuban Dodgers Star

    Details continue to trickle in after this week’s story of how Los Angeles Dodgers star outfielder Yasiel Puig managed to defect from Cuba in 2012. After a small-time crook in Miami arranged for Puig to stow away on a smuggler’s boat to Mexico, Puig was ransomed in a seedy Yucatan motel. Now, smugglers with cartel connections claim that Puig owes money, and they’ve made death threats. While the player has refused to comment on his escape and what follows, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly expressed concern. “If you care about Yasiel, you worry about it,” he said. 

    Sources: LA MagazineESPN, LA Times