The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Thailand’s Military Summons Politicians

    Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was summoned to Bangkok today, along with more than 100 other politicians, by the military leaders who took control of Thailand yesterday. It was unclear whether Shinawatra — who was forced out over nepotism by a court last month — would be detained. The coup follows several months of protests and a contested general election. As of Thursday, the army enforced curfews, banned political gatherings of more than five people and restricted 155 political figures from leaving the country. The U.S. called the coup unjustifiable and threatened revoking monetary aid while the UN urged the country to return to democratic rule.

    Sources: BBC, DW, Washington Post

  2. U.S. House Passes Bill to Limit NSA’s Data Collection

    The House of Representatives took a legislative step toward limiting the National Security Agency’s powers to collect data from phone records yesterday, passing the U.S.A. Freedom Act in a 303-121 vote. The White House-backed bill, which aims to curtail the agency’s ability to collect records about Americans in bulk, won bipartisan support. But critics claim the bill fails to limit the mass surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden last year.

    Sources: The Guardian, NYT, BBC

  3. Fears Over Possible Contamination Prompt U.S. Product Recalls

    A growing number of food products have been recalled this week owing to fears of E.coli and Listeria infections. Seven cases of E.coli have been linked to clover sprouts in Idaho and Washington and have led health authorities to warn consumers about eating raw sprouts. Meanwhile, concerns over possible Listeria contamination have prompted recalls of some hummus products and walnuts. Also, 1.8 million pounds of ground beef products were recalled over another possible E.coli contamination. 

    Sources: CNN, Boston Globe

  4. Tennessee Prepared to Bring Back the Chair 

    Lethal injection drugs may be hard to get these days, but Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has a solution: the electric chair. Haslam signed a bill yesterday allowing his state to electrocute death row inmates when prisons are unable to procure the drugs. Europe has been boycotting the lethal drug sales to protest capital punishment. Tennessee will no longer give the inmate an option as to how to die — a point that will likely pose legal challenges. Lethal injections are being scrutinized across the U.S. following a recent botched execution in Oklahoma.

    Sources: TIME, USA Today


  1. Japan’s Love of the Adorable Turns to Hamsters’ Behinds

    From Hello Kitty to Pokemon, Japanese popular culture is known for putting cuteness on a pedestal. There’s even a name for the tendency: kawaii, and it’s reflected in everything from toys and food to photos. The latest craze? Pictures of hamsters’ bottoms. Photo books dubbed “hamuketsu” — Japanese words for hamster and bottom — are hot sales items, with 40,000 copies having sold so far. A similarly themed Facebook page has hundreds of photos and thousands of fans. So far, there’s no sign of this fad bottoming out.

    Source: BBC

  2. Facebook Boosts Privacy in Wake of Mounting Criticism

    The social media giant has announced it will give its 1.28 billion users privacy checkups in response to concerns about its complex settings. In what the Wall Street Journal has dubbed the “Privasaurus Rex” initiative, a blue cartoon dinosaur will guide users through a series of privacy tutorials to ensure they are aware of what they are sharing and with whom. Those new to the network also get help; the default share setting for new users has switched from “public” to “friends,” ensuring Facebook’s former privacy position goes the way of the dinosaurs.

    Sources: WSJWashington PostNYTCNET

  3. Levi’s CEO Advises World to Stop Washing Jeans

    Chip Bergh, CEO of Levi Strauss, hasn’t washed his jeans for a year, and he’s encouraging others to help save the planet by resisting the urge to throw their dirty 501s in the washing machine. “I have yet to get a skin disease,” Bergh said, noting that the water used to wash jeans is an unnecessary waste. His comment was made this week at Fortune magazine’s Brainstorm Green Conference in California. How should you clean your jeans? By washing them rarely, spot cleaning and air drying, says Bergh. 

    Sources: FortuneWashington Post

  4. London Black Cab Drivers Lash Out at App Firm

    Angry drivers of the British capital’s famed black cabs are foaming over an app firm’s bid to work with private hire minicab services. Hailo — whose app enables people to hail taxis via smartphone — was founded by former cabbies and had originally been exclusively for black cabs, but the firm has applied for a license to expand its service. ”People want a choice,” according to the firm. The tensions led to Hailo’s office being vandalized and an altercation between cabbies and staff. The drivers plan to take their protest to the streets by blocking traffic on June 11.

    Sources: BBC, Evening Standard

  5. Canadiens Use OT Goal to Grab First Win Against Rangers

    It was as brutal and accidental as the best playoff hockey ever is, as the Montreal Canadiens cut the series deficit to 2-1 with a 3-2 overtime win against the New York Rangers last night. There was a bone-jarring hit and a brawl, and one Ranger got tossed for hitting a referee — that was just the first period. The third saw Montreal take the lead with minutes to go on a puck accidentally kicked into New York’s net, before the exact same thing happened to tie it up with 28 seconds left.  

    Sources: ESPN, The Globe & Mail