The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Iraq Crisis Continues as Militants Move Closer to Baghdad

    On Wednesday, the Iraqi city of Tikrit fell to militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – an al-Qaeda offshoot – days after the conquest of Mosul forced up to 500,000 residents to flee. Government forces have stalled the militants at Samarra, just 68 miles north of Baghdad, which is believed to be their ultimate target. Militants could also attack Baghdad from the west, where they control the city of Fallujah. Iraq’s prime minister reportedly asked the U.S. to carry out airstrikes against extremists last month but was rebuffed by the White House, which is wary of renewed involvement in Iraq.

    Sources: NYT, BBC, Al Jazeera

  2. Republicans Scramble as Cantor Announces He Will Step Down

    Eric Cantor has announced that he will resign as House majority leader, plunging his party into an ideological power struggle. Cantor, widely considered Speaker Boehner’s heir apparent, suffered a stunning primary defeat on Tuesday, losing by 11 points to Tea Party challenger David Brat. Cantor is backing Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy to fill the post that he’ll vacate at the end of July, but McCarthy is already being challenged by conservative Texans Jeb Hensarling and Pete Sessions. If McCarthy wins, a similar battle will begin over his current number three spot in the party leadership.

    Sources: WP, Reuters, Politico

  3. Indian Leader Breaks Silence on Violence Against Women

    India’s newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken out against gender-based violence in his first address to parliament. He argued that respecting and protecting women should be a priority for all 1.25 billion Indians and urged fellow politicians to refrain from “politicizing rape.” His comments are a response to a particularly extreme wave of violence in Uttar Pradesh state, where two teenage girls were gang-raped and hanged last month and two more women, aged 42 and 19, have been found hanging from trees in recent days.

    Sources: Reuters, CNN, BBC

  4. EU Probes Multinational Corporate Deals

    European authorities will investigate whether Apple, Starbucks and Fiat have violated anti-trust laws through their tax deals with Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, respectively. EU member states establish their own tax rates and some, like Ireland, offer huge tax incentives to multinational corporations. Although Brussels has long pushed members to close their corporate loopholes, it is now adopting a much more forceful strategy as part of a global crackdown on tax avoidance. Ireland’s 12.5 percent corporate tax rate particularly rankles with many in the EU, which spent some $90 billion to bailout the Irish economy in 2010.

    Sources: USA Today, NYT


  1. Homeless Teen Graduates at Top of Class

    For the past six years, Rashema Melson has slept in a Washington D.C. homeless shelter known for its poor conditions, but that hasn’t stopped her from achieving a 4.0 GPA and a full scholarship to Georgetown University. Melson says that the murder of her father inspired her to become a forensic pathologist and that goal has driven her to succeed at school and even become valedictorian. Melson advises other homeless teens to stay hopeful, reminding them that living in a shelter is “not who you are, that’s just where you reside at for the moment.” 

    Source: NPR

  2. Why do Young Russians Idealize the Soviet Union?

    Eighty six percent of 18-24-year-old Russians say they are Putin supporters, according to recent research from a Moscow-based polling organization. But the question is why? It could be that those with no living memory of the USSR idolize their sword-rattling leader for attempting to renew Russia’s former glory. Despite the extreme hardship and repression of the Soviet years, many older Russians feel nostalgic about their past and have passed that yearning for international power on to their children.

    Sources: The Independent, Washington Post

  3. ‘Magical Thinking’ Can Boost Ability

    Merely touching something a great artist or scientist held can boost performance, a study has found. But it only works for those who believe it works. The belief that ability is “contagious” likely increases a person’s confidence and can enhance accomplishment, researchers suggest. The study focused on the distinction between intuitive and analytical individuals, finding that the contagion effect primarily existed among the former. So, while an intuitive writer might work better at Dickens’ desk, a highly rational physicist might not be impacted at all by using Einstein’s.

    Source: Pacific Standard

  4. Movie Chain Bans Google Glass From Theaters

    The Drafthouse Cinema chain is banning use of Google Glass at movies because officials worry that the computers could be used to illegally record films. The CEO said he instantly recognized the potential for piracy when he attended a Google demonstration, but the independent chain only initiated the ban this month when staff began seeing Google Glasses in theaters. Earlier this year movie chain AMC said Google Glasses were “not appropriate” at films after a moviegoer in Ohio was questioned by Homeland Security officers for wearing them during a screening of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.

    Source: The Guardian

  5. Miami Heat Could be Looking for New Star

    The Miami Heat, known for superstar trio LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, may be looking to add a fourth all-star to the mix. Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony could be signed this summer, according to ESPN. There are obvious barriers in place: All four stars would have to opt out of their current contracts and take significant pay cuts. The NBA’s current collective bargaining agreement also poses problems. But it would take some pressure off James in offense and give Anthony his first real shot at a championship. 

    Sources: ESPN, CBS