The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Five NATO Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan by ’Friendly Fire’

    An Afghan official said that the five NATO troops killed in Afghanistan on Monday were Americans hit by friendly fire. Taliban fighters reportedly ambushed the troops as they conducted security operations in southern Afghanistan, prompting them to call for close air support. A coalition aircraft accidentally hit the U.S. position, killing five Special Operations service members and at least one Afghan soldier, according to the area’s police chief. There has been a surge of violence in Afghanistan ahead of the presidential election runoff this Saturday. The deaths bring the total number of NATO soldiers killed in the country this year to 36. 

    Sources: NYT, CNN

  2. Las Vegas Killers Harbored Anti-Government Obsession

    Police have “no doubt” that the married couple suspected of shooting two Las Vegas police officers and one bystander were motivated by extreme anti-government views. The couple, who later killed themselves, draped one officer’s body in a swastika and a yellow “Don’t Tread on Me.” flag, a symbol of The Tea Party. Amanda and Jerad Miller apparently acted alone, but investigators are continuing to probe possible links with militias. 

    Sources: NYT, Reuters

  3. Arrests Over Sexual Assaults in Egypt

    Seven men have been arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting women amid celebrations of the inauguration of Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi. Just days after Egypt criminalized sexual harassment for the first time, a graphic video of an apparent assault in Cairo’s Tahrir Square was uploaded to social media sites, although it’s not clear when the video was taped. At least five women were reportedly attacked on the square after the inauguration, undermining the new president’s claim that he would put an end to such crimes.

    Sources: BBC, CNN, TIME

  4. Tyson Acquires Hillshire in Biggest Ever Meat Industry Deal

    Tyson Foods will pay $7.7 billion for Hillshire Farms, the maker of Jimmy Dean sausages and Ball Park hotdogs. Tyson, the largest meat processor in the U.S., offered $63 a share, an unexpectedly rich premium that out-shot the next-highest bidder, Pilgrim’s Pride, by almost a billion dollars. The record-breaking acquisition reflects the potential for growth in the breakfast, portable and prepared foods markets. It also represents a growing trend of consolidation in the meatpacking industry, leaving consumers with fewer choices at the grocery store.

    Sources: WSJ (sub), Reuters, Chicago Tribune


  1. Paris Bridge Buckles Under the Weight of Love Tokens

    The iconic Ponts des Arts footbridge was evacuated over the weekend when a section of railing began to collapse under the weight of “love locks.” Since 2008, visiting lovers have attached locks inscribed with their initials onto the bridge and thrown the keys into the Seine, symbolizing their everlasting love. The practice has spread across the city’s bridges and landmarks, but many Parisians consider the tokens an eyesore on their historic sites. A petition calling on the city council to ban love locks has gathered over 8,000 signatures.

    Sources: The Guardian, Gawker

  2. Fistfights May Have Driven Evolution of the Male Face

    The strong jaw muscles and bigger bones characteristic of male faces may be the evolutionary result of five million years of fighting. According to research at the University of Utah, the features that protect against punches also tend to be the features that most distinguish the male face from the female face, suggesting that the greater historical likelihood of males getting into fights prompted evolutionary changes. This finding is an offshoot of research that links the evolution of the human hand to the shape best suited for giving a solid slug.

    Sources: Smithsonian Magazine, BBC

  3. Cybercrime Costs World $445 Billion Every Year

    A Washington think tank has estimated that the cost of cybercrime and espionage worldwide every year is equivalent to almost one percent of global income. Big economies, including the U.S., China, Japan and Germany, are hardest hit. While crime affecting individuals, such as stolen credit card details, are part of the problem, most losses are incurred through the theft of intellectual property or confidential business information. The study puts the $445 billion cost of cybercrime on a par with drug trafficking in terms of financial harm.    

    Sources: Washington Post, Reuters

  4. Automakers Donate Millions to Save Art Collection

    Ford, GM and Chrysler, have pledged $26 million to prevent Detroit from auctioning off its world-class artworks. The collection — including works by Van Gogh, Bruegel and Matisse — is facing the chopping block as the city struggles to emerge from the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. The Detroit Institute of Art must raise $100 million as part of a “grand bargain” that will allow the city to both keep its art and ease pension cuts for retirees. GM and Chrysler, which both required vast government bailouts to avoid bankruptcy, can no doubt empathize with their plight.

    Sources: NYT, CNN, USA Today

  5. Sterling Rescinds Support for Clippers Deal

    It seemed like a tidy end to a messy situation. The NBA finally booted Clippers owner Donald Sterling after years of deviance, he promised not to sue and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer rode in on his white horse with a $2 billion bid. Now, Sterling has withdrawn his agreement to sell the team and is pursuing a $1 billion suit against the league. In a letter to all those involved in the sale, Sterling wrote that the NBA’s actions “fly in the face of freedoms that are afforded to all Americans.” 

    Sources: SI, Deadspin, SB Nation