The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Poet, Author and Activist Maya Angelou Dies at 86

    “Phenomenal woman. That’s me,” she once wrote. And so she was. Angelou, one of the world’s leading literary lights, danced with the famed Alvin Ailey troupe and sang throughout Europe, but it was her memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, that became required reading for American students. Her voice, honed in the nation’s civil rights battles, spoke for the downtrodden everywhere. “You may trod me in the very dirt. But still, like dust, I’ll rise,” she wrote in the famous poem, “Still I Rise.” Angelou lived in Winston-Salem, N.C.

    Sources: NPR, USA Today

  2. Obama: U.S. Will Withdraw from Afghanistan by 2016

    The president has announced plans to pull all U.S. troops from the country by the end of 2016, keeping in place 9,800 of the current 32,000 military personnel after the war formally ends this year. The new timeline is largely in keeping with military leaders’ recommendations. ”Afghanistan will not be a perfect place, and it is not America’s responsibility to make it one,” Obama said, noting that Afghans must carve their own future. Republican critics fear the troop departure will reverse hard-fought gains against the Taliban and destabilize the country.

    Sources: Reuters, NYT

  3. Students Attend Memorial for Rampage Victims as Dad Demands Action

    Thousands of students at the University of California, Santa Barbara, attended a service last night in memory of the six students killed last Friday. Richard Martinez, the angry father of one shooting victim, told the crowd he was uninterested in condolences. Instead, he wants politicians to pass legislation that will prevent future rampages like the one that claimed his son Christopher. Inspiring those gathered to stand and shout, “Not one more,” Martinez told the media he wants the public to take action by sending a postcard with those same three words to every politician. 

    Sources: NYT, Washington Post, LA Times

  4. Edward Snowden Says He Was a Trained Spy

    The NSA whistleblower claims he was a high-tech spy for both the NSA and CIA in an NBC interview that airs tonight. Snowden, who faces U.S. espionage charges and has been granted temporary asylum in Russia, says he was trained as a spy and worked undercover abroad under a false name. Snowden says he used his technical skills to “put systems to work for the United States.” He made the surprise revelation to counter the often dismissive attitudes of U.S. officials who he claims have used misleading terms, like “hacker” or “systems administrator,” to describe him. 

    Sources: NBC, BBC, NYDN

  5. Google Unveils Its Driverless Car

    The Internet giant has developed a two-seat, electric vehicle to further test automated driving technology. The cartoon-like car is rounded with a “friendly” face and offers a foam-like front end and flexible windshield to soften any possible blows. Google has ordered 200 prototypes with an eye toward rolling out driverless cars without steering wheels, accelerators or brake pedals. Drivers would just have ”stop” and ”go” buttons. Google aims to transform modern mobility while redefining the term “automatic.”

    Sources: BBC, DW


  1. Global Warming a Worry but Not Climate Change

    To shock people into caring about the environment, a new study suggests using the words “global warming,” rather than the more vague term “climate change.” Researchers at Yale University found that average Americans associated “global warming” with alarm, a sense of personal threat and a greater certainty that it’s a real problem, conjuring images of melting ice and coastal flooding. “Climate change,” on the other hand, just made them think of weather patterns. Armed with this advice, activists can now heat up their fight for the environment.

    Sources: The Guardian, Smithsonian Magazine, NBC, Time

  2. Bill Murray Crashes Bachelor Party to Talk About Love

    The Ghostbusters and Lost in Translation star waded into a bachelor bash at a South Carolina restaurant to deliver a funny speech about getting hitched. Just like funerals aren’t for the dead but for the living, bachelor parties are really for the guests, not the groom, Murray told the stunned party. Pointing at the intended and saying “it’s too late for this one,” Murray told the others that if you think you’ve found “the one,” don’t just propose and set a date. Instead, he urged, travel the world together — and marry when you get back, if you’re still in love.

    Sources: Deadspin, ABC

  3. Former Hacker Goes Free While Another Wages War

    Infamous hacker Hector Xavier Monsegur, known as Sabu, has been spared a 26-year prison sentence in exchange for helping the FBI nab other hackers and prevent at least 300 other attacks on U.S. government systems. Sabu — who had confessed to cyberattacks — was sentenced to time served and freed with a year’s supervision. The news may not sit well with those who awoke yesterday in Australia and Britain to find a hacker had remotely “locked” their iPhones and iPads. “Oleg Pliss” exploited an app to remotely freeze the devices and demanded ransoms to unlock them.

    Sources: NYT, USA Today, The Telegraph, Wired

  4. Black College Graduates Twice as Likely to be Unemployed

    African-American college graduates face double the risk of being out of work, a new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research shows. The unemployment data for 2013 shows that 12.4 percent of black college graduates aged 22-27 were unemployed, compared with the average rate of just 5.6 percent. The researchers blame entrenched discrimination within the labor market. Professor Nancy DiTomaso, an expert on racial inequality in the workplace, says the bleak findings should come as no surprise and notes the need to better understand bias in the job market.

    Source: The Atlantic 

    Workplace Discrimination

  5. Montreal’s Win Forces Rangers to Keep Champagne on Ice 

    New York can’t celebrate a Stanley Cup final berth just yet. The Montreal Canadiens rode a Rene Bourque hat trick to a smackdown of a win in Game 5, beating the Rangers 7-4. Montreal, now trailing 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, scored three unanswered goals and spent a hefty amount of time in the penalty box. Tuesday’s game won’t make for any goaltending instruction videos; both starting goalies proved less than impenetrable. Sloppiness aside, Montreal fans are happy to be guaranteed another game. 

    Sources: NYT, The Globe & Mail