The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Passenger Plane Crashes in Ukraine Near Russian Border

    Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 with 298 people aboard was apparently shot down by a surface-to-air missile, according to U.S. and Ukrainian officials. The commercial Boeing 777 — en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur — crashed Thursday afternoon in eastern Ukraine, with no survivors likely. The flight fell off radar about 20 miles from the Russian border. Eyewitnesses reported seeing debris falling from the sky. Ukrainian and separatist leaders traded accusations over who holds responsibility, although Ukrainian military planes have been hit by missiles recently in the ongoing crisis with pro-Russian separatists. Major airlines, such as Delta and British Airways, have steered their planes clear of Ukrainian airspace in an abundance of caution.

    The Guardian, Bloomberg, NYT


  2. Putin Lashes Out Over Tougher U.S. Sanctions

    Vladimir Putin’s saber rattling along the Ukrainian border is proving costly. The White House slapped a new round of targeted sanctions on Russia’s financial, defense and energy firms, including the state-controlled oil group Rosneft, to punish Moscow for supporting militant separatists. The former KGB agent responded by declaring that Russian-American relations are now at a “dead end.” But whether Russian businesses hit their own cul-de-sac could depend on how willing the EU is to put additional screws to Putin. 


  3. Time Warner Rejects Fox’s $80 Billion Bid

    The world’s largest media conglomerate has rejected a cash-and-stock takeover bid of $80 billion from 21st Century Fox. Rupert Murdoch, Fox CEO, wants some of the world’s most recognizable media brands under the same umbrella to diversify assets as the industry negotiates online platforms. But he’s hit a hurdle: Time Warner wants more, and news of the rejection sent stock skyward. The question is, how much is Fox willing to pay to catch its prey?

    WSJ (sub), FT (sub), NYTReuters

  4. California’s Death Penalty Ruled Unconstitutional

    The Golden State’s 748 death row inmates — 40 percent of whom have awaited their fate for 19 years or more — will be happy to hear that the state’s capital punishment system is so wracked by delays that a U.S. district judge has deemed it unconstitutional. The judge’s order vacated the death sentence of Ernest Dewayne Jones, convicted of rape and murder in 1995, because California’s 20-year threat of “life in prison, with the remote possibility of death” constituted cruel and unusual punishment. 

    Washington PostNYT

  5. Actress Gets 18 Years for Obama Ricin Letter

    Bids to escape unhappy marriages should never involve sending toxic substances to the president. Texas actress Shannon Guess Richardson — who had a minor role in The Walking Dead — was sentenced to 18 years for sending President Obama and former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg letters laced with ricin. The 35-year-old mother, who sent the letters to implicate her estranged husband, pleaded guilty to a biological weapons charge, telling the court: “I respect my president” — just not her ex.

    BloombergCNN, USA Today


  1. Massive Crater Puzzles Russian Scientists

    Conspiracy-lovers take note: A mysterious and giant crater has appeared in Siberia. Russian scientists are baffled by the 260ft-wide hole — lying in a desolate part of the region nicknamed “the end of the world” — and are en route to investigate. Experts speculate that it wasn’t the result of a meteor or a UFO landing but perhaps the product of melting permafrost releasing large amounts of natural gas, generating “a champagne-cork effect.”

    USA Today, NPR

  2. Manuel Noriega Sues Over ‘Call of Duty’ Role

    You can convict him of murder and drug trafficking, but when pop culture portrays him as a villain, the former Panamanian dictator takes aim. In his sights? Activision, the creators of Call of Duty: Black Ops IIwho allegedly used his image without permission. Noriega’s suing the game-maker from a Panamanian prison, complaining that the popular shoot-‘em-up portrays him as the “culprit of numerous fictional heinous crimes” — without sharing any of the profits.


  3. Drinking Heavily Can Make You Popular

    Here’s to popularity! Those who drink more alcohol than their pals tend to enjoy a higher social status among friends, a Canadian study has found. The theory is truer for men than women, and there is a limit: The booze effect levels off at about 12 drinks a night. The only hiccup to binge drinking? Being the life of the party can also kill you, as it does 88,000 Americans a year.


  4. Karl Marx Book Fetches $40K at Auction

    The famous German economist believed capitalism was driven by the exploitation of labor, but supply and demand also have a role to play. A rare first edition of his capitalist critique, Das Kapital, sold on AbeBooks for $40,000, netting a nice profit for the tome’s owner on the back of Marx’s own labors. Despite warning us of “commodity fetishism,” the book and its sale prove that when demand is high and supply is low, even Marx can’t escape market forces.

    The Guardian

  5. Golfers Pull Out Long Irons for British Open

    The oldest of golf’s major championships gets under way today at Royal Liverpool, the 145-year-old seaside links course in northwest England. English fans are rooting for Justin Rose, while Americans will enjoy watching Tiger Woods — recovered from back surgery — chase his 15th major title. Defending champ Phil Mickelson, who used his trusty 2-iron to navigate Britain’s hard, windswept links last year, also hopes to clasp the Claret Jug again.

    NYTDaily MailBBC