The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Islamic State ‘Executes Second U.S. Journalist’ 

    With the brazen taunt, “I’m back, Obama,” an Islamic State executioner apparently made good on his threat to behead a second American journalist, 31-year-old Steven Sotloff. Delivering a “second message to America” to halt airstrikes in Iraq, the videotaped killing ended with yet another threat: A British hostage is next. Sotloff’s parents believe their son was murdered, but U.S. officials are still working to verify the recording. Obama, meanwhile, has signed off on sending more troops to Iraq.

    The GuardianCNN

  2. Ukrainian Leader, Putin Working On Cease-Fire

    Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko says he’s agreed to a cease-fire process with Moscow to stand down Ukrainian forces fighting separatists backed by heavily armed Russian “volunteers.” Meanwhile, the U.S. commander-in-chief is visiting only a 90-minute flight away from Moscow to tell NATO’s newest members he’s got their back. Obama is meeting in Estonia’s capital today to reassure Baltic leaders that Putin’s disregard for neighbors’ sovereignty is “not OK.” Tomorrow, Obama summits with NATO leaders to create a Putin-inspired rapid-deployment force.


  3. DNA Frees Brothers 30 Years After Murder Rap 

    Two mentally challenged half-brothers, Henry Lee McCollum and Leon Brown, are free after three decades in prison because DNA evidence cleared them in the murder-rape of an 11-year-old girl in North Carolina. A cigarette at the scene — tested in 2010 — contained DNA from another man who is serving life for a very similar killing. As their attorney said, “it’s impossible to put into words what these men have been through and how much they have lost.” 


  4. Halliburton Pays $1.1 Billion for Gulf Oil Spill

    The oil services multinational has agreed to pay $1.1 billion to cover damages from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill. The Houston-based company provided cement that failed as the rig exploded, killing 11 workers and gushing crude into the Gulf of Mexico. The payout is an attempt to reduce Halliburton’s liability as it waits with rig operator BP and owner Transocean Ltd. for a judge’s liability ruling. BP has paid out $28 billion and may be tapped for billions more.

    WSJ (sub), BusinessWeekTimes-Picayune


  1. Germany Struggles with Radioactive Boar

    Wildschwein is a delicacy in Germany, but careful, it’s hot. One year, more than a third of the wild boars tested in Saxony had 16 times the legal limit for radioactive cesium, which experts blame on the Soviet Union’s 1986 reactor meltdown in Chernobyl, 700 miles away. While many of the disaster’s effects have faded, wild mushrooms and truffles — the preferred snacks of hungry boars — are virtual cesium sponges. So where to go for those wild pigs? Japan has tons of ’em — right around Fukushima.


  2. Study Casts Doubt on Double Mastectomy Benefit

    Women with breast cancer or genetic risk factors have increasingly opted for the radical surgery to improve their chances, as Angelina Jolie did. But a Stanford University and Cancer Prevention Institute of California study found that subjects who had lumpectomies and radiation were just as likely to survive. OZY’s Melissa Pandika urges caution with the findings, noting that another recent study shows women with genetic risk factors “cut their risk of dying from breast cancer nearly in half by removing both breasts.”

    The GuardianSF Gate

  3. Australia Withdraws Reef Dumping Plan

    They’ve admitted their plan was all wet. Australia’s government has dumped plans to drop four million cubic yards of “dredge spoils” into the protected sea surrounding the Great Barrier Reef. Plans to expand a Queensland coal port and drop enough rock and mud to build another Great Pyramid had angered environmentalists. While politicians and energy firms deny caving to reef-huggers, they blinked after UNESCO considered placing the world’s largest living organism on a list of threatened heritage sites. New plan? Dump the dredge on land instead.

    WSJ (sub)

  4. ‘Doctor Who’ Lesbian Lip-Lock Censored in Asia

    The sci-fi blockbuster’s lesbian kiss escaped an entire continent. The BBC broadcasts to Asia from Singapore, which pulled the plug on an interspecies lesbian kiss between the lizard-like Silurian Madame Vastra and her Victorian English wife Jenny. The deletion applied to broadcasts as far afield as Thailand, Hong Kong, South Korea and Indonesia. The decades-running hit starring the regenerated Peter Capaldi drew in millions of viewers for its latest premiere and received only six kiss-related complaints in the UK.


  5. Broncos’ Receiver Benched in Bizarre Drug Violation

    An NFL player at the Kentucky Derby wins $50,000 and hands out $100 bills dressed like a tout from Guys and Dolls. What could go wrong? Turns out Denver wide receiver Wes Welker was turned on as well, according to reports of his drug violation and four-game suspension. The Bronco’s passing target reportedly didn’t know the ecstasy he took (a league violation) that day was laced with speed (a more serious violation). May 3 was a high, but the hangover remains.