The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Two Officers Shot in Ferguson

    Two officers were shot this morning as demonstrations celebrating Thomas Jackson’s departure turned violent. Both were hospitalized but were quickly released. The police chief’s resignation — along with those of the city manager, municipal judge and court clerk — followed a scathing Justice Department report exposing widespread racial discrimination in the city’s ranks. Many question whether the turnover will be enough to transform the department, and the city could still fight the call for reforms in court. But first it must stem the renewed violence.

    The Atlantic, NYT, CNN

  2. Secret Service Agents Disrupted Bomb Investigation

    Were they trying to swerve and protect? Two senior agents are under scrutiny after allegedly disrupting an active bomb investigation and ramming a government-issued car — possibly while drunk — into a White House barricade on March 4. The men actually drove by the suspicious package, sources said. It’s the latest black mark on the beleaguered agency and the first scandal under new chief Joseph Clancy, who faces pressure from Congress to provide a full accounting of the incident. At his appointment, Clancy promised to restore America’s trust in the men and women charged with protecting the president.

    Washington Post, NYT

  3. Venezuela Casts U.S. as Evil Empire

    President Nicolas Maduro’s increasingly isolated, increasingly unstable nation has become a headache for the U.S. Obama recently portrayed Venezuela as a threat to national security — giving Maduro a foreign target to lash out against. Now last-minute visa requirements are stymieing — and in some cases stranding — American travelers. And Venezuela’s Congress just approved expanded powers for the president, so Maduro can enact laws without anyone’s approval for the next six months. Final passage of that deal is expected Sunday.

    Al Jazeera, NYT, Miami Herald


  4. Weather to Blame for Low Consumer Spending

    The warm thaw of spring is coming, but Americans’ wallets are – still – in sub-zero mode. The U.S. Department of Commerce reported a small drop, of 0.6 percent, in spending for the month of February, a result blamed on challenges posed by consumer austerity and a difficult winter. While some reported flat sales, volatile businesses like restaurants and home retailers were negative. But economists say they’re optimistic: Low unemployment rates usually lead to spending growth, especially once people can leave the house.


  5. Feds Ding Big Banks on Stress Tests

    Most passed, but not all with flying colors. In its second round of fiscal health exams, the Federal Reserve asked three U.S. banks to tweak their capital levels, and is requiring Bank of America to resubmit its spending plan in September. Led by Citigroup, many of the stronger institutions responded with big dividend increases and stock buybacks. Only two flunked outright — the U.S. arms of Deutsche Bank and Santander — signaling a banking system better equipped to weather future financial crises.

    Bloomberg, WSJ (sub), FT (sub)

  6. GOP vs. Iran Fallout Continues

    The Ayatollah and John Kerry agree on one thing: Neither are happy with the GOP. Iran’s Surpreme Leader says he’s worried about the American history of “backstabbing.” The Republicans, meanwhile, are stunned by the reaction to their missive, signed by 47 office-holders and sent to Iranian leaders, over Iranian nuclear negotiations. At least one Republican, Sen. Marco Rubio, is using the controversy in fundraising efforts. Others see the letter as a symbol of the GOP finally finding a united foreign policy voice.

    Reuters, Politico, Bloomberg, NYT

  7. Aid Groups: The U.N. Is Failing Syrians

    It’s just getting worse. Despite three Security Council resolutions last year aimed at improving the lives of civilians caught in Syria’s civil war, 21 charities say the U.N. isn’t doing enough. A new report calls 2014 the deadliest year since the unrest began in 2011, with 76,000 Syrians killed. Aid funding has fallen, doctors have fled and the U.N. has abandoned hard-to-reach areas and those controlled by ISIS. Without a solution to the conflict and an increase in humanitarian aid, Syria’s future looks even bleaker.

    BBC, Reuters

  8. UN Talks Held to End Iran Sanctions, Marines Missing Following Crash

    Major world powers discuss lifting U.N. sanctions on Iran. (Reuters)

    11 Marines presumed dead after Florida helicopter crash. (Washington Post)

    Nemtsov’s daughter: Putin ‘politically responsible’ for murder. (The Guardian)

    Mayoral candidate found beheaded in Mexico. (DW)

    Euro hits 12-year low against the dollar. (WSJ) sub

    Sri Lanka plans war crimes inquiry. (BBC)


  1. Neanderthals Wore Eagle Talons as Jewels

    They wanted to look pretty. A University of Kansas paleoanthropologist says the extinct species of human adorned themselves with the sharp claws of white-tailed eagles as jewelry, showing they were as capable of symbolic behavior as modern Homo sapiens. Found over a century ago in northern Croatia and recently rediscovered, the 130,000-year-old notched-up talons came from eagles with two-meter wingspans. This and discoveries of early human art suggest that our understanding of ancestral commonalities is just dawning — fashionably late.


  2. Author Terry Pratchett Dies at 66

    For all his fiction victories, in the end, Pratchett couldn’t overcome the monster that is early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The British writer penned more than 70 books, including the popular “Discworld” series, and sold more than 85 million books world-wide. He was the rare best-selling fantasy author whose masterful storytelling also drew praise from the high literary echelon. Pratchett, who had just released a compilation of early short stories in February, died at home surrounded by family.

    Daily Mail, Telegraph

  3. Twitter Cracks Down on Revenge Porn

    The nude selfie is here to stay. But Twitter is now expressly prohibiting the posting of nonconsensual intimate photos, making it easier for users to request their removal. Promising to take down unwanted images “in a timely manner,” the microblogging service says it will suspend accounts until they comply and ban repeat offenders for good. Having admitted that it “sucks at dealing with abuse,” Twitter is now moving ahead of a trend toward clamping down on online harassment in all its hateful forms.

    Fusion, Buzzfeed

  4. U.S. Agency Approves Powdered Alcohol

    It’s called Palcohol but has nothing to do with a Sarah Palin dependency. The Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade bureau has green-lit powdered, dilutable cosmopolitans, margaritas, vodka and rum for sale in 4-6 ounce pouches. They may hit the shelves as early as this summer, with critics warning that the dry drinks will make it easier for kids to illegally possess or even snort the stuff. But it’ll probably be a hit with responsible adults — once the dust settles.


  5. Cholera Meets Its Match in a Haiti Building

    The 2010 quake kicked off a terrible cholera outbreak in the island nation. While it’s mostly under control, poor sanitation means the epidemic could return. A new health center may offer a different way to address the problem, with creative architecture. Perforated walls keep air flowing, and hidden tanks cycle water through extra layers of purification. Even the floors slope just so for easy spray-downs. The building stands as a living experiment. If it works, it could be a model for clinics throughout the third world.


  6. Study: Marijuana Use Affects Hippocampus

    You might be smoking too much weed, bro. A preliminary study has found that the memory center of developing brains might be adversely affected by excessive cannabis use. Scientists looked at 97 people who toked up daily and found that the shape of their hippocampus physically changed. Participants also performed worse on long-term memory tests, suggesting that pot may affect one’s ability to file and recall facts. More research is needed, but teens are being warned that their recreational habits … wait, what were we talking about?


  7. Paris Knocks Out Chelsea in Thriller

    Revenge, with a cherry on top. Paris Saint Germain played 90 minutes without star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, after the Swede was sent off for a foul in the 31st minute, and managed to secure a tie at Stamford Bridge with just 10 men. It must feel like payback to PSG, having been knocked from the final eight last year by Chelsea. After giving up a handball and penalty score to the men in blue, Thiago Silva put away a header for a 2-2 final, clinching their spot in the Champions League quarterfinals.


  8. ‘Breaking Bad’ Fans Are Misbehaving

    It’s a cheesy prank. Walter White’s house — or rather, the suburban home used to film exterior scenes — has become an Albuquerque tourist attraction, and some fans have taken to lobbing pizzas onto the roof, recreating a famous scene from Season 3. But the residence is actually owned by a retired couple who have had to shoo away pie-tossing trespassers. It’s happened so often that show creator Vince Gilligan has demanded fans stop, saying “it’s just not funny” — no matter how you slice it.

    Daily Dot, Esquire

  9. Study: Homeopathy Pretty Much Useless

    They’re no more effective than placebos. After a meta-review of 225 studies and 1,800 scientific papers, Australian researchers have concluded that homeopathic remedies can’t be relied upon to treat any condition, and people who use them may be putting their health at risk. Homeopaths think substances that cause illnesses can be used to treat them, once highly diluted. The report said earlier studies that showed some effectiveness weren’t properly conducted, and the researchers are urging sick people to pick prescriptions over sugar pills.

    The Independent, Gizmodo