The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Tornadoes Kill at Least 12 in U.S.

    Tornadoes have churned through the center of the U.S., carving a path of destruction and killing at least 11 people in Arkansas and one in Oklahoma, with the death toll expected to climb. Rescuers are digging through rubble in the small Arkansas town of Vilonia, looking for the missing. Some 45 homes were destroyed, power lines downed, trees toppled and roads left impassable in the nearby town of Mayflower. Half of the buildings in Quapaw, Oklahoma, including the fire department, were nearly flattened. One of several tornadoes spotted in the area was half a mile wide, witnesses reported.

    Sources: NBC, CNN, ABC

  2. Tension Mounts Over Separatists’ Hostages

    In a chilling piece of political theater, pro-Russian separatists publicly displayed eight European observers taken hostage in Sloviansk. One was later freed for health reasons, but the militants are refusing to discuss the release of others, who were guarded by masked gunmen. The hostages, called spies by the self-proclaimed mayor of the city, have diplomatic status and were sent to the region to aid peace efforts. The Obama administration, meanwhile, is forging a tough new set of sanctions against Russia and pushing Europe to do likewise. The sanctions will likely target companies and people close to President Putin.

    Sources: CNN, NYT, The Guardian

  3. Barack Obama Forms Closer Ties with Philippines

    The U.S. president has signed a military deal with the Philippines, the last stop on his week-long Asian tour. Although Obama steered clear of Beijing, China has cast a long shadow over the trip. Today’s deal allows the U.S. to build a stronger military presence in the Philippines amid fierce territorial disputes over the South China Sea. The president spent the weekend in Malaysia, a moderate Muslim country seen as a valuable potential ally. Its Prime Minister Najib Razak welcomed greater cooperation with the U.S. but did not agree to the trans-Pacific trade agreement, which is at the heart of Obama’s Asian strategy.  

    Sources: BBC, Financial Times (sub), NYT

  4. Palestinian Leader Describes Holocaust as ’Most Heinous Crime’

    The Palestinian President has declared the Holocaust to be the ’the most heinous crime to have been committed against humanity in the modern era.’ Mahmoud Abbas’s words come as Israel prepares to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day today. Abbas has previously courted controversy over the issue, including a claim in his 1983 doctoral thesis that the genocide was a “Zionist fantasy.” The apology seems to have been prompted by American rabbi Marc Schneier, whose work on interfaith understanding was recently profiled on Ozy.

    Sources: Washington Post, NYT, ABC, Haaretz

  5. Toyota Plans to Move National HQ, Deadly MERS Virus Threatens to Jump Borders

    Toyota to move from California to Texas. (LA Times).

    SARS-like respiratory disease may spread from Middle East. (ABC).

    Presidential favorite al-Sisi encourages people to vote in Egyptian election. (Reuters).

    Elite Paris police officers accused of raping Canadian tourist. (France24).

    Sarah Palin describes waterboarding as ’how we baptize terrorists.’ (CNN).


  1. Booming Economies Rattled by Low Sex Drive

    Hong Kong and Singapore’s lackluster sex lives are becoming a public concern. Stressful work and urban environments, lack of privacy and economic pressures have left the wealthy city states largely sexually inactive, according to a new survey. Only 29 percent of Hong Kong residents and 35 percent of Singaporeans reported satisfaction with their sex lives. The chronically low birth rate of some 1.20 children per woman in Singapore has triggered government efforts to promote baby-making through speed-dating, informal gatherings of singles and some highly unorthodox public service announcements.

    Source: Global Post

  2. Eldest Children Achieve More Says Study

    A groundbreaking study has established that first-born children excel over their younger siblings. Excluding one-child families, the study ranked first-born daughters highest on the achievement scale, followed by first-born sons. Regardless of gender, the eldest child in a family is statistically the most likely to succeed, ranking higher in ambition and academic achievement. The study provides no concrete explanation for the trend. Some suggest that parents may simply be more attentive the first time around — supporting the suspicions of resentful younger siblings everywhere. 

    Sources: The Independent, Business Standard

  3. Cryptocurrency Falls After Chinese Squeeze

    The value of Bitcoin slipped almost 10 percent in three days as news from China put the squeeze on investors. BTC China, the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange, has decided that it will no longer accept local currency deposits from China Merchant Bank — vastly hampering the transfer of the cryptocurrency in the region. Given China’s vast influence on the Bitcoin market, global investors have been offloading the currency to compensate for lower-than-expected trading. While the currency still remains popular for speculation, the last few days have demonstrated how susceptible Bitcoin’s value is to external legislation.

    Sources: Tech Crunch, Bloomberg 

  4. Pioneering Musician Found Dead

    Rashad Harden — known professionally as DJ Rashad — has been found dead in Chicago’s South Side after a suspected drug overdose. The musician was a pioneer of the experimental music and dance movement Footwork, which combines rhythmically complex electronic beats with pulsating sounds. The news of Harden’s death comes just days before the release of his latest EP “We On 1,” which was expected to propel him from the Chicago underground scene onto the international stage.

    Sources: Contact Music, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times

  5. Jordan and Johnson Respond to ’Racist’ Remarks

    Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is being investigated by the NBA for alleged racism. In a recording released on Friday, a man identified as Sterling tells his girlfriend not to be seen with black people. Magic Johnson, mentioned in the transcript, said Sterling should be stripped of team ownership. Michael Jordan issued a statement saying that as a fellow owner and ex-player he was “completely outraged.” During Sunday’s game against the Warriors, LA’s players wore their usual warm-up gear inside-out, concealing the Clippers logo in silent protest. They lost, 118-97. 

    Sources: ESPN, USA Today