The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Turkish Tragedy Reminds World of Mining Dangers 

    The death toll from Turkey’s worst-ever mining accident has risen to 301. The last bodies were removed on Saturday afternoon, and authorities now believe they have recovered all of the victims. On Sunday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office said that 16 people had been detained in connection with the tragedy. The operating firm has denied wrongdoing, but Turkey — the seventh-largest producer of coal in the world — is well known as one of the world’s most dangerous mining locations. Protests erupted nationwide in response, and many criticized Erdogan for telling mourners, “These types of incidents are ordinary things.” 

    Sources: BBC, Quartz, The Guardian, NYT

  2. 9/11 Museum Opens to the Public

    The National September 11 Memorial Museum will open its doors to the general public on Wednesday. The project’s development has embodied the challenges of creating a memorial that honestly communicates the horror of the event without reawakening the trauma. The curators also had to grapple with the ongoing repercussions of the attacks and the variety of opinions on how it should be commemorated. Ultimately, they have relied heavily on artifacts and individual testimony, allowing witnesses to communicate directly rather than imposing a single interpretation of the country’s “collective agony.”  

    Sources: New York magazine, Wired       

  3. Women Senators Urge Action to Rescue Nigerian Girls

    Twenty women senators have demanded that the U.S. government take immediate action to rescue 276 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. Claims that the victims have been sold as brides highlight the problem of sex trafficking in Nigeria, which feeds into Europe’s illegal sex industry. Thursday’s congressional hearings revealed frustration with Nigerian authorities, who are seen to have responded slowly to American intelligence. At a security summit in Paris this weekend, West African leaders declared “war on Boko Haram.”

    Sources: NYT, Women Under Siege, LA Times, CNN

  4. Far-Right UKIP Set for European Election Win

    Nigel Farage may not be a name known outside of Britain, but his U.K. Independence Party is set for an unprecedented victory in the European elections later this month. The loquacious leader has been a member of the European Parliament for 15 years, but he advocates cutting Britain’s EU ties. His message of British independence has galvanized support from all walks of life, though his opposition to immigration has often been labeled as covert racism. Current polling puts UKIP ahead of both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, which currently form an uneasy government coalition.

    Source: NYT

  5. Glenn Greenwald’s New Memoir Recounts Drama Behind NSA Leak

    In his new memoir, No Place to Hide, reporter Glenn Greenwald reveals how he came across the biggest scoop of the century — the NSA spying scandal — and nearly blew it. Greenwald initially brushed off NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden until he was given a thumb drive filled with top-secret documents. While narrating the story behind the story, the reporter discusses being dismissed as a “radical” even as he fought for seemingly conservative ideals by demanding that government respect Americans’ constitutional right to privacy.

    Sources: Mother Jones, New Yorker, The Atlantic


  1. How Magic Johnson Stemmed the Spread of AIDS

    Donald Sterling’s claim that Magic Johnson should be “ashamed” of being HIV positive has reignited the debate about prevention. Since bravely revealing his condition in 1991, Johnson has done much to destigmatize the illness. In New York, those seeking HIV tests rose by 60 percent within a month of his announcement. More than 20 years later, the rate of new infections has stabilized at about 50,000 a year. With condom use falling, federal health officials have advocated that some use daily antiretroviral drugs to prevent infection. The drug is covered by most insurers, and prescriptions are expected to rise to 500,000.

    Sources: New Yorker, NYT

  2. Forty-Year-Old Icelandic Murders Reveal Pitfalls of Human Memory

    The 1974 murders of two men near Reykjavik demonstrate how innocent people can end up confessing to crimes they didn’t commit. By the time the murder investigations ended, six people had confessed, even though they had no memory of it, and no physical evidence existed. A detective involved in the investigation is now using the diaries of the suspects, which show their initial protestations of innocence giving way to confessions, to convince authorities worldwide of how false-memory syndrome can result from isolation, crime re-enactments and aggressive police tactics, leading to false confessions.

    Source: BBC

  3. Group Promotes Outdoor Adventures as Therapy for Veterans

    Military life, despite its horrors, is characterized by deep camaraderie, commitment and excitement. As a result, many returning veterans experience severe boredom and isolation. In response to the soaring rate of veteran suicides, a nonprofit group called Veterans Expeditions offers “wilderness therapy” to former military members. The founders hope that the physical challenges and teamwork required for the outdoor adventures will allow veterans to replicate “the fellowship of arms” without exposing them to the negative aspects of conflict. They hope to draw thousands of veterans outdoors by 2020.

    Source: National Geographic

  4. Science Challenges Edison’s Attack on Sleep

    Scientists are denouncing our cult of sleeplessness and suggesting that it’s foolish to abandon “four billion years of evolution.” The decline of sleep dates back to Thomas Edison’s invention of the incandescent light bulb and, perhaps unsurprisingly, Edison was a staunch opponent of sleep. In Alan Derickson’s new book, Dangerously Sleepy, he describes how Edison promoted the idea that success in life was dependent on staying awake for longer. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher trained herself to survive on four hours a night, describing sleep as being “for wimps.”

    Source: The Atlantic

  5. NFL Considers Changing Marijuana Rules

    Facing a one-year suspension for smoking weed, Browns’ star receiver Josh Gordon has inadvertently drawn attention to the NFL’s stance on marijuana use. Following the legalization of marijuana in several states, the league is about to hammer out a new drug policy. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, the NFL players union and several teams have committed to following medical opinion on whether to allow use of the drug in certain contexts. Some argue that marijuana could provide pain relief for players without damaging their livers.  

    Sources: ESPN, ESPN, Bleacher Report