The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Mosul Falls to Militants as War Returns to Iraq’s Cities

    On Tuesday, the al-Qaeda splinter group ISIS captured Iraq’s second-biggest city. Invigorated by the civil war in Syria and flush with gulf oil money, the Sunni militants hope to bring “Greater Syria” — parts of Iraq and Syria — under their rule. Their biggest ally is the country’s sectarian fault line, first exploited by Saddam Hussein, then exacerbated by the U.S. occupation and now used by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s authoritarian Shiite government to discriminate against Sunnis. A stunned White House promised material support and is considering air strikes, which would effectively return the U.S. to combat in Iraq.

    Sources: New Yorker, Arabist, NYT

  2. White House Celebrates Innovative Citizens at First Maker Faire

    America is a country of shakers and makers, and the White House will celebrate that innovative spirit with its first-ever Maker Faire next Wednesday. President Obama will use the occasion to promote new initiatives to help ensure that future generations of inventive spirits can be “makers of things, not just consumers of things.” So roll out those 3-D printers, garage-built robots and basement craft projects because it’s time for American tinkerers to take the stage.

    Source: White House  

  3. The Republican Upstart Brought Down the House Majority Leader

    How did an economist at a tiny, liberal arts college in Virginia defeat one of the most powerful men in Washington? Dave Brat, the popular Randolph-Macon College professor who brought down Eric Cantor in Tuesday’s GOP primary, largely capitalized on voters’ anger with D.C. politicians seen as betraying small government principles in favor of Wall Street interests. Does Cantor’s defeat signal the beginning of the end for the conservatism movement, or can the GOP reclaim its banner from popular upstarts like Brat?

    Sources: New Yorker, New Republic, NYT

  4. Seychelles Offers Haven for Money Launderers and Tax Dodgers

    The Seychelles islands may be a paradise getaway for A-list celebrities, but it’s also a major destination for money launderers and tax cheats. An undercover investigation reveals how local “offshore” financial services use labyrinthine company ownership structures to conceal the sources of the money flowing through them. This financial anonymity offers anyone from corrupt political leaders to illegal mercenaries a place to hide their money until the time is right. For those trying to fight corruption, the Seychelles is becoming the number-one target.

    Source: ICIJ

  5. Arrest of 87-Year-Old Smuggler Brings Down World’s Biggest Drug Cartel

    Leo Sharp is a World War II veteran, a great-grandfather — and now a convicted drug smuggler. The notorious Sinaloa cartel, which pumped thousands of kilos of cocaine into Detroit from Mexico, relied heavily on the former day-lily farmer who delivered an astonishing 200-plus kilos of cocaine every month from Tucson to Detroit. Suffering from dementia, the man known as Tata — grandfather — was a “one-man cocaine fountain” whose arrest by authorities led to the unraveling of the world’s most notorious drug-trafficking ring.

    Source: NYT


  1. Brazil’s Yellow Jerseys Embrace Symbolism and Reject Historical Losses

    Following “The Defeat,” a 1950 loss to Uruguay in the World Cup finals in Rio that shook the country’s futebol-crazed culture to the core, Brazilians decided they needed to divorce themselves from the bad memories of their team’s white jerseys. When a young newspaper illustrator won the subsequent design contest with a blazing canary jersey, a national symbol was born. In soccer, it means superiority. In politics, popular support. In protests, revolt. For Brazilians watching this year’s World Cup, it’s a nostalgic ideal and a hopeful sign of victory.

    Sources: New Yorker, New Republic

  2. The FBI’s Secret Plot to Prevent MLK’s Commencement Address

    When Springfield College President Glenn Olds invited Martin Luther King to address the Massachusetts school’s graduating class in June 1964, he knew the civil rights leader was a controversial figure. But Olds had no idea that in the weeks leading up to graduation, he would be approached by FBI officials bearing evidence of King’s alleged philandering and communist ties or pressured to “uninvite” the famous guest. Olds stood firm, and despite being in a Florida jail the day before graduation, King made it to commencement and delivered a speech still remembered by Springfield’s graduates to this day.

    Source: The Atlantic 

  3. Endangered Apes Exhibit Human Kindness but Suffer Inhuman Violence

    Catching a yawn from strangers — a sign of empathy — seems uniquely human, but we share this ability with bonobos. Living in the Congo, the endangered species is distinct for being the only ape that don’t kill. Bonobos are also the first non-human primates seen helping strangers voluntarily — a behavior “aped” by small children throughout the world. Illegal trade of the animals to Asia and the local bushmeat market in Congo threaten their survival, spurring conservationists to raise the profile of our species’ genetic “first cousins.”

    Source: National Geographic

  4. The West Coast Scene Is Having Its Moment

    Los Angeles-based tech entrepreneurs are enjoying a renaissance. Facebook bought Oculus, Apple’s buying Beats, and mobile apps like Tinder and Snapchat are thriving — all signs that the L.A. scene is grabbing investors’ attention. Matt McCall, a venture capitalist, is used to people raising eyebrows in surprise when he describes the tech boom in the City of Angels. But for those who believe L.A. has a finger better placed on the nation’s pulse than Silicon Valley, along with startups better equipped to reach mass markets, the rise of Los Angeles was inevitable. The question now: Which company will next get its wings?

    Source: Recode

  5. Online Quiz Helps You Find Warm-Weather Song

    Whether it’s Mungo Jerry or Beyonce, summertime is always primed for a smash hit song. With 17 possible choices this year, Slate has released an interactive online quiz to help music lovers pick their sound of the summer. The quiz identifies which of the year’s classic hits appeal most. A few contenders include “Summer” by DJ Calvin Harris, “Sing” by U.K. singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran and “Good Kisser” by R&B smooth-man Usher. Whatever your tastes, summer airwaves are sure to be filled with artists competing to make their track the iconic sound of 2014. 

    Source: Slate