The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Nasdaq Tops 5000 In Different Era

    It only took 15 years and two recessions. The index ended today at 5008.10, marking a milestone last reached on March 27, 2000, when it was known for high-flying tech stocks that came crashing down in the “dot-com” bust that began that year. This is not the Nasdaq of the era. On average, the companies in the composite now are older, bigger and, most importantly, more profitable. Still, some wonder if another bubble is brewing.

    WSJ (sub), Quartz, USA Today

  2. Chinese Environmental Expose Goes Viral

    Call it Beijing’s An Inconvenient Truth. Under the Dome offers a detailed, reported look at China’s pollution problem. It’s narrated by a former state TV journalist who says she was inspired to speak out after becoming pregnant, and realized the health impact bad air could have on her unborn child. The video goes after the government and big business, but miraculously, hasn’t been censured yet. More than 25 million viewers watched over the weekend. Perhaps, some suggest, some in government secretly agree.

    NYT, Quartz 

  3. Iraq Launches Bid to Reclaim Tikrit

    The militants’ days in Saddam Hussein’s hometown may be numbered. Thousands of Iraqi troops have joined forces with Shia militia and Sunni tribesmen to drive ISIS from the 260,000-strong city they seized last summer. Vowing to liberate Tikrit from the “tyranny of terrorists,” Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi went so far as to offer Sunni fighters pardons if they abandon the so-called caliphate. It’s make-or-break time for the Iraqi military, whose forces reportedly now control an area west of the city.

    Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya

  4. Feds to Point Finger at Ferguson Police

    Residents are bracing again — not for violence, but for change. The U.S. Justice Department is set to release a report accusing Ferguson police of making discriminatory traffic stops and disproportionately incarcerating African-Americans, fueling the racial animosity that culminated in last summer’s shooting death of Michael Brown. Due out this week, the report will force the St. Louis suburb to negotiate or face a federal civil rights lawsuit — either of which should usher positive change for its police department and its citizens.


  5. Police: Homeless Man Reached for Officer’s Gun 

    The scenario is too familiar. Police fatally shot yesterday an unarmed, mentally ill homeless man in L.A.’s downtown skid row — and the confrontation is captured in a video that’s gone viral. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said today that the man tried to grab an officer’s gun before three colleagues opened fire, citing a “partially engaged” weapon as evidence. Once again, the shooting raises the debate over appropriate use of deadly force. Its resolution could hinge on footage from officers’ body cameras — an important test for technology that’s becoming more common.

    LA Times, NPR

  6. China Joins Global Fight Against Deflation

    Asia’s economic engine needs to hit the gas. China’s central bank slashed its benchmark rate over the weekend by a quarter of a percent, its second decrease in four months. The surprise move underscores signs of economic weakness, including a slumping property market and manufacturing sector, that threaten its growth goal of 7 percent. But Asian markets rallied today in response, with investors eyeing this week’s meeting in Beijing, where China may be forced to dial back its ambitions or pursue more aggressive monetary measures.

    WSJ (sub), The Economist, Yahoo

  7. First $5 Million African Prize Nod in Years

    There’s only been five winners since the prize began in 2007, and none since 2011. It is, apparently, hard to find a democratically-elected African leader who served out their term and “demonstrated exceptional leadership” to receive the Mo Ibrahim Foundation award. Outgoing Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba will accept the honor. A former rebel who took over the presidency in 2004, he is considered a “soft-spoken consensus builder.” Africa could use more of such leaders.

    BBC, Al Jazeera

  8. John Kerry Set to Meet Russian Counterpart

    Will they play nice? The U.S. Secretary of State is meeting Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, in Geneva today, where the two will discuss Ukraine’s shaky ceasefire. Setting the stage is a U.N. report highlighting that 6,000 have died thus far in the conflict, as well as the Friday murder of Putin opponent Boris Nemtsov. The killing sparked a massive memorial march, and while many hope it’ll stir stronger opposition, others fear it’s a sign of more violence ahead.

    NYT, BBC, The Guardian

  9. Google to Build Wireless Network, Mommy Blogger Convicted

    Tech giant confirms plans to offer U.S.-based wireless service. (WSJ) sub

    Mother found guilty in salt-poisoning death of son. (Gawker)

    North Korea, angered by U.S.-South Korea drills, fires short-range missiles. (Reuters)

    Netanyahu brings case against Iranian nuke deal to America. (NYT)

    Los Angeles police shoot homeless man in apparent struggle over gun. (LA Times)

    Authorities probe deadly bacteria release from Louisiana lab. (USA Today)

    Shopping tourism protests lead to dozens of arrests in Hong Kong. (BBC)


  1. Clinton Portrait Has Hint of Shame

    No, Monica, we can’t bury the blue dress. Artist Nelson Shanks says his 2006 portrait of Bill Clinton that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery contains a hidden reference to the Lewinsky affair. Outraged by the “most famous liar of all time,” Shanks now says he secretly added “a shadow from a blue dress” — symbolizing her infamous outfit and the stain on his presidency. The painting is one of 55 Clinton images in the gallery — and the Clintons don’t want it removed.

    The Atlantic,

  2. The Doyenne of the Senate Steps Down

    She’s the longest-serving female Congresswoman in U.S. history. And she won’t seek reelection next year, Barbara Mikulski announced. The Maryland pol spent five terms in the house before moving up in 1986. She said she would spend the next two years working for others from Maryland, but didn’t say who she supports. Baltimore’s mayor and the state’s former governor top the Democrat’s likely list, but controversial conservative Ben Carson, a former Johns Hopkins surgeon, could step forward. They’ll have some serious suits to fill.

    Politico, Baltimore Sun 

  3. Recovered Ebola Nurse Sues Hospital

    She was the American face of the disease. But Nina Pham, a nurse who contracted the virus last fall while treating Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, says she’s also a “symbol of corporate neglect” and filed a lawsuit today. Pham claims the hospital didn’t give her proper protective gear and made critical medical decisions on the fly — and then used her as “a PR pawn.” The hospital has apologized, but it may now need to pay damages.

    Dallas Morning News

  4. Smokers: Dare to Believe You Can Quit

    Is nicotine addiction going up in smoke? A new study suggests that smokers’ brains, not just the drug, can control how their bodies react and become addicted to tobacco. Participants who were falsely told their cigarettes had no nicotine showed less addiction-linked brain activity — which may mean that belief alone can induce a nicotine high. If reward-learning pathways can be harnessed, it could allow science to “reverse-engineer addiction,” lighting a path to longer, smoke-free lives.

    Medical News Today, News-Medical

  5. Ford Debuts New Electric Bike

    This isn’t just any bike. The MoDe:Me syncs with an iPhone app that would help the motor adjust to the user’s heart rate, and send signals for things like when to turn via vibrations on the handlebars. It was unveiled this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The idea is to give urban commuters a boost beyond cars, which is a bit of a shocker considering the company pushing the product: Ford. Maybe what’s old can be new again — they’re working on a driverless car, too.

    ZDNet, Business Insider

  6. ISIS Parody Is 50 Shades of Controversial

    They may be too terrifying to spoof. Saturday Night Live viewers got riled up by a parody of a saccharine Toyota ad featuring 50 Shades of Gray’s Dakota Johnson as a naive ISIS recruit saying goodbye to her father. With three British schoolgirls missing in Syria, the skit’s lighthearted take on Islamic extremism proved too flippant for many. But echoing some fans’ sentiments, Dakota’s SNL co-star tweeted: “Freedom to mock is our greatest weapon.” Freedom to offend is also allowed.

    Gawker, LA Times

  7. Tech Shuttle Workers Unite to Drive Change

    They’re really in the driver’s seat now. Shuttle bus operators servicing Silicon Valley campuses like Apple and Yahoo are joining the Teamsters union in a bid for better working conditions. The buses, which have become a flash point for those opposed to the tech-fueled gentrification of San Francisco, have allegedly been denying workers areas to rest and adequate pay for breaks between split shifts. Facebook’s drivers unionized last fall and are now awaiting approval of their new contract, which seeks to award a significant hourly raise.


  8. Samsung Eyes Apple With Latest Hardware

    It’s the battle of the Sixes. The South Korean tech giant has unveiled the most beautiful smartphones it’s ever produced, the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge, which are nearly on par with the iPhone 6 from its American rival. Completely rebooted with a design-first approach, the new phones ditch cheap plastic in favor of metal and glass, with sleek sloping sides for the Edge version. The apps still need more polish and some features like the waterproofing have been lost, but Samsung’s new hardware could cure its current woes.

    The Verge, Recode

  9. Baseball Pioneer Minnie Minoso Dies

    The legendary Cuban left-fielder known as Mr. White Sox died yesterday from a tear in his pulmonary artery. His age remains a mystery, but accounts place the nine-time All-Star — whose career spanned five decades — between 89 and 92. Minoso was Chicago’s first black major leaguer and is considered the first Latin American superstar. And while he was never inducted into the Hall of Fame, his “quintessentially American story embodies far more than a plaque ever could,” said Sox fan President Obama.

    Chicago Tribune, NYT