The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Gunmen Storm Libyan Parliament, Fighting Erupts

    Fierce fighting hit Tripoli yesterday after forces loyal to a maverick army general stormed Libya’s parliament. Routes to the General National Congress building were reportedly blocked by men with heavy weapons mounted on trucks, and the road to the airport was closed. Residents reported hearing rocket fire. The weekend’s clashes, which killed at least two and injured 66, represent some of the worst violence in the city since the 2011 revolution. Retired General Khalifa Haftar said his forces and allies — reportedly militias from the western city of Zintan — launched the assault to rid the nation of Islamist militants.

    Sources: Reuters, LA Times, CNN

  2. AT&T Buying DirecTV for $48.5 Billion

    AT&T is purchasing satellite TV operator DirecTV for $48.5 billion. The deal will add DirecTV’s 20 million subscribers to the five million already signed up to AT&T’s U-verse TV service. If the move is approved by regulators, AT&T will become the country’s second-largest pay TV provider, behind Comcast, and will be able to package phone, high-speed Internet and pay-TV services. Regulators have expressed growing concern that the nation’s TV and Internet services are increasingly controlled by a handful of corporate behemoths. Comcast agreed earlier this year to buy Time Warner Cable, and Sprint wants to merge with T-Mobile.

    Sources: TIME, NYT

  3. Vietnam Cracks Down on Demonstrations as China Evacuates Thousands

    Vietnam is pouring police into major city streets to block mounting anti-China riots. China has sent five ships to retrieve its citizens, and state media reports that about 4,000 have already been evacuated. Vietnamese police made several arrests in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as protesters prepared to launch a new wave of demonstrations against Beijing’s provocative installation of an oil rig in a disputed part of the South China Sea. China has reported two deaths and up to 100 injuries. Vietnam is stepping up efforts to control the situation, hoping to assuage mounting anxiety among foreign investors.

    Sources: Reuters, The Guardian

  4. U.S. Helps Coffee Fungus Fight in Central America

    The U.S. government is stepping in to help Central American farmers battle a devastating fungus known as “coffee rust.” The fungus, which particularly affects the premium Arabica bean, has already caused some $1 billion in damage to coffee plants. Production could drop as much as 40 percent in coming years, sending prices sky high, and putting as many as 500,000 people out of work. The U.S. believes that such instability could cause increased drug trafficking and associated violence in coffee-growing nations. USAID is launching a $5 million partnership with Texas A&M University to seek a cure.

    Sources: Al Jazeera, Washington Post

  5. Astra Shareholders Disappointed by Rejection, Severe Flooding Continues in the Balkans

    AstraZeneca rejects ‘final’ Pfizer offer, sending shares down. (The Telegraph).

    Balkans flooding raises fears over landmines and power plants. (NYT).

    South Korea to dismantle Coast Guard in wake of ferry sinking. (BBC).

    Four arrested in Turkey over mine disaster. (Al Jazeera).

    First case of MERS infection transmitted within the U.S. (CNN).


  1. Can Wealth Disrupt Your Moral Compass? 

    A recent study from Berkeley shows that rich people really do believe that greed is good. As a result, they’re likely to be less ethical than the rest of us. One researcher commented that “the really well-to-do have lost a little of their moral character.” The study, which used a variety of creative ethical measurements involving more than 1,000 participants, found that visibly wealthy people proved far more likely to ignore rules, refuse to share and put themselves ahead of those with lower incomes.

    Source: ABC

  2. Scientists Poised to Create Matter from Light

    British scientists expect to create matter from pure light within the next year. Physicists at Imperial College in London say they can use high-powered lasers and other advanced technology to convert light into subatomic particles. Two U.S. physicists theorized in 1934 that on rare occasions two particles of light, or photons, could combine to produce an electron and its antimatter equivalent, a positron. But back then they believed it would be impossible to achieve in a lab. Imperial’s lead researcher describes the process as “one of the purest demonstrations of E=mc2.”

    Source: The Guardian

  3. Global Warming Is Latest Education Battleground

    Take a back seat, Darwin. The newest conflict over science teaching involves global warming. The GOP-controlled state legislature of Wyoming, where the coal and oil industries wield major clout, has rejected national science standards for schools because they include lessons on how humans have contributed to global warming. The rejection comes despite a committee of state science educators unanimously recommending the standards; they have also been publicly supported by both Exxon and Chevron. Other states are also expected to reject the guidelines, known as the “Next Generation Science Standards.” 

    Source: NYT

  4. Beyonce and Jay-Z Release Hot New ’Movie’ Trailer

    Music’s foremost power couple caused a sensation when they released a movie trailer for Run, starring themselves as well as Sean Penn, Rashida Jones and Jake Gyllenhaal. In addition to an impressive all-star cast, the four-minute trailer featured guns, explosions and chases. Fans will be disappointed though. Why? The movie isn’t real. The Run trailer, which ends with the words “Coming Never,” is an elaborate promo for the pair’s On the Run summer tour. The term “teaser trailer” has never been more apt. 

    Sources: Rolling Stone, USA Today

  5. Pacers Take First Game in Dominant Display

    The Indiana Pacers had to fight tooth and nail against substandard opponents to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals, while the Miami Heat cruised past over-matched competition. That didn’t matter on Sunday, when the Pacers surprised many by beating the Heat, 107-96. Paul George was key for Indiana: He led the team with 24 points, and his defense against LeBron James held the Heat star to 25 points, five below his playoff average. Miami will be scrambling to figure out what went wrong ahead of Game Two on Tuesday night.

    Sources: ESPN, CBS