The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. U.S. Deploys Planes as Nigerians Reject Girl Swap

    American officials have deployed manned surveillance missions over Nigeria in a bid to locate hundreds of schoolgirls kidnapped last month by Boko Haram. Nigerian officials, meanwhile, have rejected the militants’ offer to exchange the girls for prisoners. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau vowed to “never” release the girls as long as “our brethren” are in prison in a video showing 136 of the abducted girls, who militants claim have “converted” to Islam since being taken. Authorities say they will not support trading innocent citizens for criminals. 

    Sources: BBC, Washington Post

  2. German Diplomat Seeks Dialogue to End Ukraine Crisis

    German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has rushed to Kiev in a bid to start a national dialogue and broker a diplomatic solution to the Ukrainian crisis. The move comes a day after pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine declared autonomy following a referendum in Donetsk and Luhansk. The U.S. and EU say the vote was illegal, but many Ukrainians fear Moscow will annex the eastern regions, much like it did Crimea in March. Russia has said the results of the referendum should be implemented. Referring to the vote, Steinmeier said: “We cannot, and must not, take it seriously.”

    Sources: BBC, DW

  3. Clay Aiken’s North Carolina Primary Opponent Dies

    A challenger to American Idol candidate Clay Aiken in a North Carolina Democratic congressional primary died suddenly yesterday as votes were still being counted in the tight race. Keith Crisco, 71, reportedly died in a fall at his home. Aiken was leading by just 369 votes as the two battled to take on incumbent GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers. Aiken, now the almost-certain Democratic candidate, responded to the tragedy, calling Crisco “a good and honorable man and an extraordinary public servant.”

    Sources: ABC, LA Times

  4. Melting Glaciers Pose ‘Unstoppable’ Sea Level Rise

    The melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet could cause the world’s oceans to rise by as much as 10 feet over the coming centuries, according to a study by experts at NASA and the University of California, Irvine. The rapidly melting glaciers in the Amundsen Sea region “have passed the point of no return,” thanks to climate change, according to glaciologist Eric Rignot. The glaciers are melting even faster than scientists had predicted, and they warn the resulting sea level rise will devastate coastal communities.

    Sources: NYT, NASA Study, FT (sub)


  1. Ohio Twins Born Holding Hands

    Few moms were more touched than Sarah Thistlethwaite this Mother’s Day. Though her twin girls were born last Friday, holding hands, it wasn’t until Sunday that she was allowed to hold them. Jillian and Jenna were born sharing an amniotic sac and placenta, a rare condition known as monoamniotic birth. The twins have since been taken off their ventilator. Sarah said: “They’re already best friends,” referring to their hand-holding birth. She also said that it was the best Mother’s Day present ever. 

    Sources: The Guardian, CBC

  2. Iranians Celebrate Hijab Freedom on Facebook

    Women in Iran are letting their hair down and sharing their experiences online. The Facebook page “My Stealthy Freedom” features Iranian women throwing off the legally mandated hijab — if only briefly — and enjoying the wind in their hair. The page, launched last week by an Iranian journalist from her home in the UK, hosts 150 photos. “My hair was like a hostage to the government,” she says, insisting the page is not political but about women “talking from their hearts.” The page already has more than 130,000 “likes,” mostly from within Iran, from both men and women.

    Source: BBC

  3. Pregnancy Linked to Higher Car Crash Risk

    As if morning sickness and sleepless nights weren’t enough, a new study gives pregnant women something else to worry about: They are at greater risk of being involved in a car accident. The risk increases by 42 percent during the second trimester but decreases during the third. The study only looked at accidents serious enough to require hospital visits. Researchers suggest the higher risk may be linked to women feeling the full effects of pregnancy, suffering discomfort, fatigue, nausea and cramps, which may interfere with concentration. 

    Sources: ABC, NPR, USA Today

  4. Blondie Releases 40th Anniversary Album

    Debbie Harry turns 70 next year, but her voice shows no sign of aging — nor does her energy. The front woman of Blondie has no plans to retire and is releasing a new album, “Blondie 4(0) Ever.” It’s a double offering, with one disc of greatest hits, including re-recordings of former favorites, and new album, “Ghosts of Download.” By mixing the two, Harry and guitarist Chris Stein hope to satisfy old and new fans. The duo worked on the album remotely, only visiting the studio towards the end of recording, proving that they can keep producing … one way or another.

    Source: USA Today

  5. Donald Sterling Manages to Offend Again

    He’s been lambasted the world over for racist comments, so you’d think the Los Angeles Clippers owner would learn to hold his tongue. But no — taking to the airwaves again last night in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Sterling started by apologizing and then spiraled into another ignorant rant. He claimed some African-Americans did little for their community once they became successful, with Magic Johnson firmly in the firing line. But Sterling insisted that he loved the NBA and told viewers he wasn’t racist. “Am I entitled to one mistake?” he asked, revealing yet another weakness: an inability to count.

    Sources: BBC, CNN