The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Ukrainian Military Loses Two in ‘Anti-Terror’ Push

    Ukraine’s defense ministry confirmed this morning that two of its pilots were killed when military helicopters were shot down by pro-Russian separatists with shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles. Ukrainian forces are waging an “anti-terror” campaign in the eastern city of Sloviansk, but the rebels claim to still be in control of the city. Efforts to push back the separatists continue despite a warning from Russian leaders that assaults by Ukraine’s troops in the east would bring “catastrophic consequences.” Many fear a pending Moscow invasion.

    Sources: BBCDW

  2. Pfizer Ups Ante to $106 Billion, but Astra Rejects Bid

    The New York-based drug firm issued a new and higher offer today to get its hands on British rival AstraZeneca, but it was reportedly rebuffed. An earlier bid had valued the UK firm at just under $100 billion, but today’s offer had Pfizer weighing up Astra at nearly $106 billion or $84.47 a share, which represented a 32 percent premium on Astra’s share price. If it had been accepted, Pfizer would have been well on its way to forming the world’s largest pharmaceuticals company.

    Sources: FT (sub), NYT, USA Today

  3. SEC Fines New York Stock Exchange $4.5 Million

    The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has fined the NYSE $4.5 million for failing to abide by its own rules and operating without required regulations between 2008 and 2012. The NYSE and its affiliates have agreed to pay the fine — a fraction of the exchange’s daily trading — without confirming or denying the charges. The charges are more bad press in the wake of Michael Lewis’s recent book Flash Boys, which sparked debate about how fairly the market is structured.

    Sources: ForbesBloombergUSA Today

  4. U.S. Military Sexual Assault Reports Jump 50 Percent

    Reports of sexual assaults in the U.S. military soared by an unprecedented 50 percent last year to 5,061, according to the Pentagon. Critics blasted the figures as further proof of an assault epidemic, while officials hailed them as a sign that victims are now more comfortable reporting the crimes and confident that attackers will be prosecuted. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel acknowledged more remains to be done and announced further initiatives. 

    Sources: ReutersCSMNYTChristian Science Monitor


  1. Snobby Shop Clerks Are Good for Business

    Why do fancy stores often have snobbish clerks? Because they tend to drive up sales. Snooty clerks reinforce the notion that posh labels are truly high-end and reserved for society’s upper crust. In the study, consumers who interacted with rude salespeople were the ones who expressed a greater desire to splurge. One researcher compared it to the high school drive to be part of the “in group.” And if you’re still not buying in to the notion of elite spending, then you can always shop online.

    Source: NY Daily News

  2. How Do You Win at Rock, Paper, Scissors?

    You can’t really win … right? Turns out you can — if you play the odds, and throw in some psychological gamesmanship, says a new study. Players who win one round of the classic hand game are more likely to repeat the same play, while those who lose two rounds often switch it up, usually to beat the last tactic successfully played against the player. So be alert, gamers, and remember the “win-stay, lose-shift” strategy. The only possible snag? Your opponent may also read this.

    Source: Ars Technica

  3. Study Shows Handwriting Beats Laptops for Class Note-Taking

    Students looking to get the most out of their lectures should probably leave their laptops at home. Two Princeton psychology researchers studied the success rates of students in quizzes depending on how they took notes in class — handwritten versus typed. Unlike those students who typed their notes — trying to record lectures verbatim — those taking them by hand were forced to be more selective and thus processed more of the information. The writing on the wall? Jot it down.

    Source: The Atlantic

  4. Italian Appeals Court Upholds Dolce & Gabbana’s Tax Convictions

    Luckily, stripes are in this season, because the fashionable duo are one step closer to donning prison attire. An Italian appeals court upheld the 18-month jail sentence and 500,000 euro fine levied by a lower court for the fashion designers’ failure to pay 40 million euros in taxes. Dolce & Gabbana plan to appeal the ruling to Italy’s Supreme Court of Cassation. Apparently, run-ins with the law are trending among Italian runway designers. Prada and Armani recently paid 420 and 270 million euros, respectively, to settle disputes.

    Sources: CNNVanity FairHollywood Reporter

  5. Favorites Fight Off Elimination in NBA Playoffs

    Losing the opening round could prove a fireable offense for Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel and Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks. But not yet. Facing elimination in their respective best-of-seven series, both the Pacers and Thunder prevailed in Game 6, keeping their coaches out of the unemployment line. Kevin Durant led OKC over Memphis with 36 points and 10 rebounds, while David West and Paul George led Indiana over Atlanta with 24 points each. Both teams will get a final say in Game 7 in front of loud crowds in their home arenas.

    Sources: ESPNCBS