The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Jordan Executes Prisoners After Pilot Burned Alive

    The response came fast and final. After a video surfaced of ISIS setting its captured pilot on fire in a cage, Jordan executed Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman convicted in a suicide bombing attempt, and Ziad al-Karbouli, a top Al Qaeda lieutenant in Iraq, before the sun rose Wednesday morning. The gruesome killing of Lt. Moaz al-Kassasbeh marks a new level of brutality for ISIS and could prompt Amman to exact more revenge executions, as well as esclate air strikes against militants.

    The Guardian, NYT


  2. U.S. Official: We Can’t Keep World Afloat

    America can’t go it alone. That’s the message from U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, who has warned that the world’s major economies must do more to stimulate domestic demand. In congressional testimony, Lew claimed the U.S. economy — predicted by the IMF to grow three times the rate of the euro in 2015 — would grow much faster than all other advanced economies combined. But he warned that the world can’t depend on America as its “sole engine of growth.” Echoing the Fed’s concerns over global economic slowdown, Lew’s warning reflects rising concern over global demand.

    FT (sub)

  3. Dead Prosecutor Targeted President

    The documents ended up in the dead man’s garbage. Before dying from a bullet to the head, Alberto Nisman had drafted arrest requests for President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and foreign minister Héctor Timerman, accusing them of covering up the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires in exchange for access to Iranian oil. The requests would have “provoked a crisis without precedents in Argentina,” said a political analyst. The revelation comes after two judges refused to take the case — possibly trashing it for good.


  4. Obama’s Plan Offers Room for Compromise

    Is a deal taking shape? The president’s proposal was quickly rejected yesterday by Republicans and business leaders. But both sides say it could prompt talks on a bipartisan tax code and infrastructure spending. The proposed budget is a 6.4 percent increase, but projected economic growth would create a $474 billion deficit, the smallest since 2008. Don’t expect to find common ground on Obama’s call for new corporate taxes, but his planned 4.5 percent increase in military spending might signal the end of austerity.

    WSJ (sub), NYTFT (sub)

  5. U.S. Mulls Sending Lethal Aid to Kiev

    Russia keeps sending volunteers. So the U.S., which currently supplies Ukraine with non-lethal equipment like body armor and night-vision goggles, is considering a more militaristic helping hand. An uptick in fighting and Russian aid to rebels is fueling debate in Washington. Obama has balked at sending arms, but fellow Dems and NATO leadership are pushing for a change. White House-level discussions are expected this week, and Secretary of State John Kerry, who’s reportedly open to lethal aid, is heading to Kiev for talks.

    BBC, CNN

  6. French Arrests Made in ‘Jihadist’ Raids

    They’ve been on high alert since the newspaper massacre. Now French authorities say they’ve nabbed eight men suspected of recruiting fighters for jihad in Syria. It’s the latest sign of a country struggling with meeting the needs of a Muslim population often at odds with French culture and government. But both sides will need to figure it out unless they want more arrests — and to be fighting the same battles 10 years from now, that they fought 10 years ago.



  7. UN Court Rejects Balkan Genocide Cases

    Genocide is tough to prove. The International Court of Justice has told Serbian and Croatian complainants to call it a day, rejecting both sides’ claims of deliberate and systematic destruction of ethnic groups. While acknowledging the 1991-1995 violence where thousands died, the judge said neither had proven “specific intent” of genocide. No one will rejoice, but some hope it will bring closure to years of debate and mudslinging while opening the door to warmer relations between neighbors.

    BBC, DW

  8. FCC to Embrace Net Neutrality

    No slow lanes, ever. After years of acrimonious debate, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is expected to propose reclassifying high-speed Internet service as a utility, ensuring that content is not blocked. But the road to neutrality will be bumpy. Wheeler, who has the backing of the president, has the delicate task of crafting tough rules that are politically palatable and can thwart potential lawsuits from providers. The proposal is expected to drop this week, with the commission voting on it later this month.

    NYT, Politico, WSJ (sub)

  9. Will Oil Industry Buckle Under Pressure? 

    It may be on a slippery slope. As Russia outlines vague — and maligned — plans for bolstering its economy to contend with collapsing oil prices, the industry is facing tough realities. Today Royal Dutch Shell announced its intention to decommission the North Sea’s Brent oilfield, one of the UK’s biggest. BP, meanwhile, posted a fourth quarter loss and pledged to reduce spending on exploration. This year’s production is expected to remain high, but industry investment drops today mean fewer prospects tomorrow.

    WSJ (sub), BBC, FT (sub), NYT

  10. Several Dead in NYC Train Crash, Recent Photos of Fidel Castro Surface

    Metro-North train hits vehicle on tracks, killing driver and several passengers. (NYT)

    Jailed journalist renounces Egyptian citizenship in bid for freedom. (Al Jazeera)

    Fidel Castro photos published in Cuban newspaper. (NYT)

    U.S. drops investigation of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. (NPR)

    South Korean soldier faces death penalty for killing five colleagues. (Global News)

    Venezuela’s Maduro accuses Biden of ‘bloody coup’ attempt. (RT)


  1. Harper Lee to Release Second Novel

    She’s one of the most enigmatic, yet influential, writers of the last century. And she published just one book — To Kill a Mockingbird, thanks in part to a big break. Now, 55 years later, she’s announcing a follow-up. Lee actually finished Go Set a Watchman before her famous tome, but the manuscript was lost until a friend discovered it. The book follows her famous character Scout as an adult. It’s slated for release July 14.

    The Guardian

  2. Still Fooled by the American Dream

    It’s hard to let go of fantasies. Social mobility is one of the most-cherished myths. New research from the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology synthesizes four studies to show that Americans — especially the young, the rich and the conservative — still believe in rags-to-riches, even though statistics show class boundaries are increasingly impermeable. But don’t give up hope yet — strivers who believe in advancement often see physical and emotional benefits, even if they still drive a compact car.

    Pacific Standard 

  3. McDonald’s Trashes the Tamale in Mexico

    They’re not loving it. Mexicans are fighting back after the burger giant unveiled yesterday the McBurrito on its Facebook page with the tagline: “Tamales are a thing of the past.” The dig at the beloved national dish prompted an immediate backlash on social media. “I’d rather eat tamales than your horrible rotten products,” said one Facebook post. One of Mexico’s most popular TV anchors tweeted to his 4.5 million followers denouncing “the latest stupidity from McDonald’s.” Hamburger University apparently needs to add more cultural studies.


  4. France Cashes in on Monopoly’s 80th Year

    How do you say “payday” in French? Lovers of the property-buying board game are saying “Oui” to the chance of collecting a lot more than $200 as they pass Go. To celebrate its 80th anniversary in France, 80 game boxes — among some 30,000 on offer — have been filled with real money, and one promises a windfall worth $23,000. It’s not enough to buy a house or hotel, perhaps, but it’s certainly plenty to make someone feel like a winner.

    Business Insider

  5. Rodents Take Bite at Spring Forecasts

    Who can we trust? Punxsutawney Phil, the weathering woodchuck of Pennsylvania, saw his shadow, thus “predicting” six more weeks of winter. But New York’s groundhog survived an encounter with Mayor Bill de Blasio and claimed spring would come early. Phil’s accuracy is debatable, but a winter storm is dumping heavy snow across the Northeast today. While his prediction may have stung, at least it didn’t bite — which is more than can be said for one furry forecaster in Wisconsin.

    NPR, New York Magazine, JS Online

  6. Flirty Chats Target Syrian Rebels

    They fell for a classic Web scam. Hackers aligned with Syrian president Bashar Assad stole a trove of intelligence on Syrian opposition groups by posing as attractive female supporters on Skype and convincing the romance-starved rebels to download pictures tainted with malware. The stolen information included strategy documents, battle plans, personal names and birth dates. After receiving a photo from a fake femme fatale, one fighter texted back: “You drive me crazy.” The rebel handbook clearly needs to be updated.

    Gizmodo, Ars Technica

  7. Science Lights Up for Decriminalized Drugs

    The numbers aren’t blowing smoke. When states loosen marijuana laws, drug-related arrests and prison sentences drop — and kids don’t seem to light up any more than before decriminalization. That’s the effect most Americans want to see. What’s still debatable is exactly how much money is saved from the law enforcement cutbacks. One 1992 study also pointed to increased ER visits, but those results haven’t been replicated. Meanwhile, reefer tolerance is spreading — Obama’s budget would even ensure that D.C. gets to legalize pot, as voters requested.

    Popular Science

  8. Elsa Catches Cold in ‘Frozen Fever’

    Fans just can’t let it go. Disney has revealed stills from a seven-minute short that follows up on mega-hit Frozen. The mini-movie, which opens March 13 with screenings of the live-action Cinderella, reunites the entire cast as the famous ice queen shows off her warmer side for Anna’s birthday celebration. There’s also a new song that promises to be even more relentlessly catchy than the original Oscar-winning tune. Parents, consider yourselves warned.

    E! Online, ScreenCrush

  9. NASCAR Ad Upsets Gluten-Free America

    Wheat shall overcome. Nick Offerman (in character as Parks and Recreation’s libertarian grump Ron Swanson) starred in a NASCAR Super Bowl commercial deriding various groups he considers soft — including the gluten-free. So they fought back, collecting 18,000 signatures demanding that NBC pull the ad. The petition, which laments the bullying of gluten-free children, garnered a network response. But it’s unlikely to torpedo the ad unless it affects the amount of bread advertisers see rolling in.

    Independent, People

  10. Hall of Famer Warren Sapp Arrested, Fired

    The Super Bowl haunts more than Seattle. The NFL Network analyst was taken into custody yesterday for allegedly soliciting a prostitute and assaulting two women at a Phoenix hotel. Over his 12-year career, the once-unstoppable defensive end had his share of off-field troubles, including being arrested the day before the 2010 Super Bowl for domestic battery, though the case was later dropped. Police say the Orlando native, whose network contract was terminated, has admitted to soliciting a prostitute, but not to assault.

    SIUSA Today