The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Iraq Mints New Leadership as U.S. Seeks Allies 

    Teamwork couldn’t hurt. As Iraq battles to subdue Islamic State militants, its parliament has approved a new, minority-inclusive government featuring Sunnis and Kurds. After congratulating Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, President Obama turned his attention to expanding U.S. airstrikes and building an anti-IS coalition. Secretary of State John Kerry meets Jordanian and Saudi Arabian leaders today while Obama talks to congressional leaders, who don’t seem eager to authorize military action.

    NYTCNNPolitico, WSJ

  2. EU Levies Tough New Sanctions on Russia

    European leaders have whipped out their paddles and agreed to back tougher economic sanctions against Russia, but Putin won’t feel the crack for a few days. The sanctions will hit two of Russia’s state-controlled energy giants, Rosneft — which asked Moscow for a $42 billion loan recently — and Gazprom’s oil affiliate, as well as state pipeline firm Transneft, with tightened restrictions on access to European capital. But if Ukraine’s shaky ceasefire holds, the EU may further delay Putin’s trip to the woodshed.


  3. Federal Reserve Banks on Tougher Rules

    They’ll be crying all the way to the corner office. Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo unveils tough new plans for banking rules today, stiffer than those imposed by picky international regulators. The rules would impose higher capital surcharges, boost liquidity requirements and target short-term wholesale funding, given that reliance on that type of funding makes banks vulnerable. The tougher stance — inspired by the 2008 financial crisis — is aimed at adding buoyancy to financial giants that can’t go down without the rest of us.


  4. Home Depot Confirms Months-Long Hack

    Do they need a bit of DIY? Hackers ran roughshod through Home Depot’s accounts for up to five months before a breach was detected. The operation may have dwarfed last year’s Target hit, which nabbed info on 40 million debit and credit cards. It’s still unclear how much was gleaned in the hardware store’s attack, but the company believes it was in-store shoppers — not online buyers — who were targeted, and it’s rolling up its sleeves to upgrade credit card terminals.



  1. Moscow Takes Aim at Lithuanian ‘Deserters’

    Has Putin found a time machine? Russian authorities have channeled their inner Soviets and asked Lithuania — independent from the USSR since 1990 — to spill the goods on countrymen who refused to serve in the Soviet military a quarter-century ago. Funnily enough, not sacrificing oneself for Stalin’s dream isn’t a crime in Lithuania, so the request was denied. But the “deserters” have been encouraged to avoid traveling to Russia or non-NATO countries … and perhaps to reacquaint themselves with Orwell’s 1984.


  2. Volcanic Tornadoes Appear Over Iceland

    Mother Nature has a new Hollywood-style horror to feed your nightmares: Toxic volcano tornadoes at Iceland’s Holuhraun lava field. Spotted by a Norwegian scientist’s infrared remote monitor, they are most likely whirling sulfur dioxide gas and rise from dry air superheated by magma. Iceland’s Meteorological Office calls the vortices “wind anomalies from thermal convection,” but don’t let the boring name fool you. It’s best to steer clear of anything that’s likely to make Spielberg’s imagination run amok.

    Live Science

  3. GM to Introduce Semi-Autopilot Cadillac 

    You may think they’re fooling, but GM plans to introduce its first “hands-free, foot-free” Cadillac in 2017. A “Super Cruise” feature promises to keep the car in its lane, brake and drive while maintaining a safe distance from other cars. The idea is to spare drivers in stop-and-go traffic or on monotonous highway stretches. In the automated mode, drivers can let go of the steering wheel, putting a whole new spin on “riding in the back, cruising down the street.”  

    LA Times

  4. Ivory Tower Bows to Homer Simpson

    As Lisa would say, “Shut up, brain. I got friends now.” The Simpsons is finally getting the academic attention it deserves, with one professor digitizing all 552 episodes of the show’s 25 years into a searchable database. Using subtitles from each show to record the number of times the words “do’h”, “ay carumba” or “release the hounds” are used in each episode, it shows how Bart, Homer and crew linguistically evolved over time, while allowing fans to search and track their favorite Simpsons’ phrases. Mmmmm, respectability!

    The Atlantic

  5. The NFL Strikes Ray Rice Back

    Rice’s “worst mistake of his life” may cost him his career. The Baltimore Ravens cut the 220-pound running back yesterday after TMZ released video showing him punching then-fiancé Janay Palmer — now his wife — and dragging her unconscious from an elevator. Rice had initially been wrist-slapped with a two-game suspension, which sparked outrage and led to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell implementing harsher punishment for domestic abuse. Goodell extended Rice’s suspension indefinitely yesterday, and President Obama denounced the violence.

    ESPN, USA Today