The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Iraqi Government Loses More Ground as U.S. Considers Options

    President Obama acknowledged that the U.S. is considering “all options” as Iraq struggles to hold back Islamist militants who have seized two more towns in their push towards Baghdad. Despite historical animosity between the two countries, Iran says it has deployed an elite military unit to assist with the protection of the capital. The goal of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is apparently to create an Islamist emirate spanning Iraq and Syria. One observer argues that if ISIL consolidates its control of Iraqi cities it will be the most significant act by a jihadist group since 9/11.

    Sources: WSJ (sub), BBC, Al Jazeera

  2. Bergdahl Returns to U.S. Amid Controversy

    Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl arrived back in the country early this morning. Having been treated in Germany since his release, Bergdahl will continue his recovery at a military medical facility in San Antonio, Texas. The circumstances of Bergdahl’s return have sparked controversy, with widespread claims that he was captured while attempting to desert and criticism of the prisoner swap that allowed the release of five Guantanamo detainees. The Pentagon has stated that its priority is “making sure that Sergeant Bergdahl continues to get the care and support he needs.”

    Sources: CNN, NYT, LA Times

  3. Russia Accused of Sending Tanks into Ukraine

    Ukraine’s interior minister has accused Russia of sending an armored column that reportedly crossed into Eastern Ukraine on Thursday and clashed with Ukrainian troops. Reuters journalists reported sightings and a video posted online claims to show a tank rolling through the town of Snizhne. Russia has not responded to the allegations and the origin of the tanks cannot be confirmed. Although Vladimir Putin discussed ways to end the crisis with his Ukrainian counterpart yesterday, if the tanks were sent by Russia an escalation is more likely than a resolution.  

    Sources: NYT, The Guardian 

  4. Tesla Releases Patents for Electric Cars

    In a bold effort to promote sustainable transport, Tesla Motors has released its 203 electric car patents into the public domain. In a blog post, CEO Elon Musk expressed frustration over automakers’ reluctance to embrace low-carbon technology; electric models make up less than one percent of car sales in the U.S. He hopes that an open-source approach will encourage more automakers to develop long-range electric cars. The move is generous but not entirely selfless: in an infrastructure-heavy industry, a small player like Tesla can’t drive the development of a charging network on its own.               

    Sources: Forbes, USA Today


  1. Feminist Quote Hotline Helps Women Fight Unwanted Attention

    While women have long used fake phone numbers to bat off aggressive come-ons, now they can sweeten the blow with a feminist reprimand. Recognizing that women are regularly pushed into this kind of unpleasant corner, an anonymous group has established the Feminist Phone Intervention Hotline. When dialed or texted, the hotline delivers automated quotes from feminist scholar and activist, bell hooks. When women give the hotline number instead of their own, their unwelcome suitors will be left to ponder pointed epigrams such as: “Whenever domination is present, love is lacking.” 

    Sources: Daily Dot

  2. Popular Kids in High School Lose in the Long Run

    Being cool isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. A study by the University of Virginia followed 180 13-year-olds for a decade and found that by age 22, the “cool group” had a 45 percent higher rate of problems related to alcohol and substance abuse. According to the researchers — specialists in child development — part of the problem may be that as high school rebels get older, they feel the need to undertake increasingly extreme behaviors in order to receive the same amount of attention

    Source: NPR 

  3. Recession Has Led to Increase in Suicides

    The economic crisis caused more than 10,000 extra suicides in North America and Europe, a new study suggests. Researchers from the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine analyzed data from the U.S., Canada and 24 EU countries. Job loss, house repossessions and debt were identified as major contributing factors. But some countries, like Finland, Austria and Sweden, saw no increase, suggesting that supportive social and health care policies could be especially important during periods of economic hardship.

    Source: BBC

  4. Actress, Poet and Civil Rights Activist Ruby Dee Dies

    Ruby Dee, a powerful force on stage, screen and in society, has died in New York at the age of 91. Best known for her role in the landmark Broadway production of A Raisin in the Sun and her Oscar-nominated role in American Gangster, Dee was also a poet, playwright and a civil rights activist. She and her late husband, Ossie Davis, were jointly awarded a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album, the National Medal of Arts and the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, among other honors.

    Sources: Variety, Hollywood Reporter, NYT

  5. Brazil Beats Croatia in Controversial World Cup Opener

    Before the opening match of the 2014 World Cup between host nation and powerhouse Brazil and squarely average Croatia, most expected a South American beatdown. And while Brazil did win, the game was closer than the 3-1 score suggests. Croatia scored first, and Brazil’s first two goals, one of which was a contentious penalty, came from star striker Neymar, who arguably should have been on the sidelines having received a lenient yellow card for a forearm to Luka Modric’s temple. But nothing was going to rain on the home crowd’s parade; the Sao Paulo skyline lit up with fireworks when Oscar scored Brazil’s third goal.

    Sources: SB Nation, ESPN