The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Greece to Accept Bailout Extension

    Athens is blinking. The new Tsipras government will seek tomorrow an extension of its eurozone borrowing for up to six months after its current bailout expires this month. Greek officials pointedly positioned the new aid package as a loan rather than a continuation of the existing program, which comes with austerity measures the government told voters it was ditching. The new deal allows Greece leeway in adopting reforms, but still commits the country to paying back its creditors and avoids a crisis that would have induced a default and financial panic.

    The Guardian, BBC, FT (sub)


  2. Rivals in Ukraine Cease-Fire Keep Big Guns

    It’s all over but the fighting. Despite a ceasefire, forces on both sides are refusing to pull their heavy weaponry back from the front. Kiev says rebels are still attacking, while the rebels say they’ll consider backing off their armor — after more negotiation. Meanwhile, U.S. officials tweeted that they were monitoring reports that new Russian weaponry was rolling toward the government-held rail junction of Debaltseve. The EU has strengthened sanctions against Russia, but the German chancellor admits that “much remains to be done.”

    TIME, The Guardian


  3. Judge Halts Obama’s Immigration Leniency

    It might be a temporary setback — or not. A Republican-appointed federal judge in Texas has issued an injunction against Obama’s immigration plan to defer deportation of certain illegal immigrants, in response to a lawsuit from 26 states. The new program that would have started tomorrow was suspended as the White House vowed to appeal the ruling. With the Supreme Court taking up the Affordable Care Act, two key parts of the president’s agenda now face judicial review. Obama’s legacy appears to be up for legal challenge.

    Washington Post

  4. Egypt Seeks U.N. Intervention in Libya

    After an ISIS video flaunted the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi launched airstrikes against the militants. Now he wants help: A U.N.-backed coalition, similar to the 2011 NATO alliance that helped topple dictator Moammar Gadhafi. After that effort, el-Sissi said, “We abandoned the Libyan people as prisoners to extremist militias.” It’s not clear if Western nations — already busy fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria — will agree, but France’s president has already called Cairo to confer.

    Reuters, AP

  5. ISIS Burns to Death 45 People

    Their brutality knows no bounds. The jihadist militants have immolated 45 people in the fallen Iraqi town of al-Baghdadi, recalling the gruesome burning of Jordanian pilot Muadh al-Kasasbeh in January. The local police chief speculated that the unknown victims served as security personnel in the besieged city. These latest killings come as the U.S. and Turkey tentatively agreed today to train and arm moderate Syrian opposition forces fighting the militants. They also underscore a growing perception that the U.S. won’t be able to avoid putting troops on the ground.


  6. Oil Train Derails, Explodes in West Virginia

    “It was like an atomic bomb went off,” said one Boomer, W.Va., resident of yesterday’s rail crash that sent a fireball 300 feet into the air. The 109-car CSX train derailed in a snowstorm, igniting more than a dozen tankers and plunging one into the Kanawha River. Hundreds have been evacuated and nearby water treatment plants have been closed due to North Dakota crude in the waterway. Politicians are sure to demand tougher safety standards, but with exploding U.S. production, oil’s got to move.

    Washington Post, BBC

  7. Shooting Dubbed ‘Hispanic Ferguson’

    He had come from Mexico in search of a better life. But Antonio Zambrano-Montes fell on hard times in Pasco, Washington, at one point living in a homeless shelter. He was throwing rocks at passing cars when police approached. He turned, raised his arms — and was fatally shot. Pasco is 56 percent Hispanic, while the town’s leadership is mostly white. Video of Zambrano-Montes’ shooting went viral on YouTube. Protesters have demanded change. But as Missouri residents can attest, it’s not easy.

    NYT, The Guardian

  8. Myanmar Declares Martial Law, S&P 500 Ends At Record High

    Myanmar puts army in charge in troubled Kokang region. (AP)

    The S&P 500 ends above 2,100 on Greece hopes. (Reuters)

    Battle for railroad town escalates despite Ukraine truce. (NYT)

    Southern states suffer ice, snow and 3,000 canceled flights. (NBC)

    Haiti parade float hits power line, killing at least 20 revelers. (AP)

    Aftershocks from deadly 2011 quake trigger warnings in Japan. (WSJ) sub

    Russian firm fingers massive cyber-espionage operation. (Mashable)


  1. Singer Lesley Gore Dies at 68

    Her 1960s girl power odes “It’s My Party” and “You Don’t Own Me” still resonate. Producer Quincy Jones discovered Gore when she was just another Brooklyn high school student. She returned to Fame (the movie) in 1980 with an Oscar nomination for “Out Here on My Own,” written with her brother. She’s also remembered as a gay pioneer who lived with her partner of 33 years and hosted several episodes of a PBS series about LGBT life. May the songs of the “teenage voice of heartbreak” live on.

    Salon, People

  2. France May Stay Open Longer 

    Shoppers, ready your credit cards. The prime minister used emergency measures to pushed a reform plan through the National Assembly that would allow business to open 12 Sundays a year instead of five — and in certain tourist zones, like along the Champs Elysees, every Sunday. Stores could also stay open later. There’s a host of other proposals attached, such as relaxing restrictions on some professions, in an attempt to revamp the moribund national economy. The measures now go to the Senate for a vote.

    France 24, Bloomberg 

  3. Feminists Cheer Raw Cindy Crawford Photo

    Is there glamour without Photoshop? An un-retouched photo of the 48-year-old model has become a rallying cry for activists fighting unrealistic expectations of aging women. The leaked image, from a 2013 Marie Claire cover shoot, shows Crawford in black lingerie — with a soft and wrinkled midriff. “It is real, it is honest, and it is gorgeous,” the magazine declared. The subject’s been silent, but her husband posted a poolside candid, possibly revealing how supermodels feel about the unfiltered truth.

    People, ABC

  4. Rapid HIV Strain Discovered in Cuba

    This is one scary-fast virus. Researchers in Cuba have delineated a new variant of HIV that is startlingly aggressive, progressing to full-blown AIDS in three years — twice as quickly as the most common strain. The disease’s acceleration means there might not be time for effective treatment. While this brutal new mutation doesn’t spread as readily as other HIV variants, the discovery comes at a frightening time. As President Obama restores diplomatic relations with Cuba, more Americans will soon be visiting their island neighbor.

    The Independent, Science Times

  5. Oil Could Hit $10 a Barrel

    It’s a game of chicken. Strong-armed by pump-happy Saudi Arabia, other OPEC members haven’t blinked as crude prices have dropped from more than $100 to about $50 a barrel. One analyst argues the floor could be as low as $10, as a slumping world economy, better fuel efficiency and new U.S. oil sources conspire to constrain demand. Riyadh’s goal is to force competitors to cut production, thus restoring prices. But desperate countries without Saudi-level cash reserves won’t stop until it costs more to drill than to sell.


  6. ‘Game of Thrones’ Declares War on Spoilers

    The cheat sheet is gone. Fans of the depravity-and-dragons HBO series have been able to thumb through George R.R. Martin’s novels to learn which character was next for death or dismemberment. But the author has ripped the rug from under readers by revealing that this season’s on-screen deaths won’t match those in the books. Readers will have to wait for the broadcast to learn of the carnage — or hold out for the last two 1,500-page installments of the seven-book series.

    AV Club

  7. Lance Armstrong Loses $10M Decision

    Penance ain’t cheap. The disgraced cyclist has lost a $10 million arbitration decision to Dallas insurance company SCA Promotions. They want a refund of $9.5 million in bonuses for Armstrong’s 2002, 2003 and 2004 Tour de France victories — among the seven stripped for doping. The payment due includes a penalty for what an arbitration panel called an “unparalleled pageant of international perjury, fraud and conspiracy.” Next Armstrong still has to face a civil suit from SCA and a federal lawsuit that could cost him $90 million.