The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Iran May Deepen the Oil Price Slump

    We didn’t think of ”alternative energy” quite like this. A nuclear deal with Iran could unlock US sanctions and allow Iranian oil to flood the market. Already, prices have dipped below $44 a barrel, a six-year low. If Iran reaches a deal with the West, its exports will join Saudi Arabia’s stepped-up production and add to the glut of oil already driving prices down ever since the de facto demise of OPEC’s control on supply.   

    Bloomberg, WSJ





  2. Obama Clarifies Position on Legal Pot

    And he was blunt. President  Obama, who has admitted to using marijuana in the past, did not voice support for legalization of the Schedule 1 substance. But he did say criminal penalties are too harsh on non-violent drug users, and that as Congress conforms to the desires of an increasingly youthful electorate, decriminalization won’t just be a pipe dream. Indeed, new legislation aims to end the federal medical marijuana ban — though Obama counseled young voters to focus more on climate change, war and the economy than weed.

    Bloomberg, Time   

  3. Mexico Wants Its Own Wikileaks

    Transparency is a good thing. Eight Mexican media outlets and NGOs have banded together to create a platform for whistleblowers, hoping to scare up information on government corruption, corporate greed and civil rights abuses. In a country where public officials are thought to be responsible for fourfold more attacks on journalists than drug cartels, a transparency project is much needed — but could be impossible. Already, prominent radio host Carmen Aristegui has been fired for protecting members of her team fired for their involvement with the project.

    Guardian, WSJ

  4. Secret Agenda Hidden in Trafficking Bill

    It was easy to miss. A bill in the Senate meant to aid victims of human trafficking, using money from fines paid by traffickers, seemed like a slam dunk. That is, until staffers spotted the Hyde Amendment, which would keep the bill from funding abortions for victims. Democrats argue that since that taxpayers aren’t footing the bill, the Hyde amendment overreaches. But now there’s a partisan standoff — and Mitch McConnell says there’ll be no vote on attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch until the bill goes through.


  5. Ferguson Shooter Says Cops Weren’t Target

    Not everyone believes him. Police are disputing the account of 20-year-old Jeffrey Williams, who shot two Ferguson police officers — both now released from the hospital — during a protest against police brutality and racism. Williams says he was aiming for someone else, and the cops were just collateral damage. He also claims he was beaten by the police who arrested him after the shooting. Even though Williams shot first, the force’s credibility has taken so many hits that protests will likely continue.

    LATimes, Buzzfeed 

  6. Vanuatu Devastated by ‘Monster’ Storm

    This wasn’t just a freak accident. “Climate change is contributing,” President Baldwin Lonsdale said in an emotional address on the “monster” storm that leveled some 90% of the capital of his South Pacific archipelago. The death toll has grown to 24 as news rolls in from the outer islands, and 3,300 people have been displaced. Lonsdale says the storm has taken a massive toll on the nation’s burgeoning development, and Kiribati’s president, Anote Tong, supported his message — perhaps worried that his island nation will be hit next. 

    DW, BBC, AP, Guardian

  7. Israeli Leaders Battle for Top Spot

    In a last-minute blitz of campaigning ahead of tomorrow’s election, Prime Minister Netanyahu is fighting to keep the job he’s held for six years. Though polls say voters would welcome an alternative, they don’t seem to place much trust in any of the available options. Bibi can hold his breath until Thursday night, when official results are announced and parties have had time to form coalitions. The election is too close to call, but neither Netanyahu’s Likud nor its challenger the Zionist Union is expected to gain anything like a majority. 

    Bloomberg, WSJ


  8. Scotland Yard Embroiled in Scandal

    Who watches the watchmen? In the UK, it’s the Independent Police Complaints commission, which is probing London’s police force over claims that officers failed to investigate sex abuse allegations in multiple cases — but only when those allegations were against powerful men. The cases, which span 40 years, include alleged cover-ups to protect members of Parliament and members of the police force from sex abuse scandals. But some don’t trust the investigation, which they say is too chummy with the cops.   

    Daily Beast, FT, BBC

  9. Boston Hideout Shot 100-Plus Times

    The jury took a field trip today. The prosecution in the case of marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev presented his hiding place — a pleasure boat stored in the yard of an unsuspecting homeowner. Testimony revealed that police fired at the boat scores of times, and that Tsarnaev carved a phrase into the wall: “Stop killing our innocent civilians.” Local police who confronted the brothers, and were there when the older one died, testified today. Experts say the trial is moving faster than expected.

    Buzzfeed, Boston Globe


  10. ISIS Destroys Saddam’s Tomb

    Only some pillars remain. The destruction came during a major push by Iraq and the Shia militia, which is backed by Iran. The government forces have sworn to reach Tikrit’s city center — Saddam’s hometown — within days. Local Sunnis say they removed Saddam’s remains to a secret location last year, so he is safe, as it were. But the destruction has ignited fears that maybe the Shia battling ISIS had a hand in it, continuing sectarian violence even when they’re (sorta) fighting for the same side.

    BBC, CNN

  11. Scandal Deepens for Brazilian President

    She was just reelected — but can she salvage her term? Faced with more than a million protesters calling for her impeachment over the weekend, President Dilma Rousseff promised talks on stemming corruption and fixing Brazil’s economy. Today’s indictment of Rousseff’s party treasurer, Joao Vaccari, for graft did not help things. Rousseff could make a last-ditch effort to fix Brazil’s finances through budget cuts, but her weakened position makes that even harder — and could cause Brazil to forfeit its prized investment-grade credit rating.

    AFP, Reuters, Guardian

  12. Euro Drops as Fed Mulls Patience

    The euro took a brief dip to a 12-year low today, highlighting jitters about the future of eurozone and U.S. monetary policies. Investors will be looking to see whether the Federal Reserve remains “patient” about interest rate hikes at this week’s meeting. Whether rates increase, and at what pace, will also depend on steadily rising U.S. job figures. But many expect an imminent rate hike in a bid to strengthen the dollar, which would cause havoc in already jumpy global markets.

    WSJ, FT (sub)

  13. Putin: ‘We Were Ready to Bring Nukes’

    The West was pushing his buttons. In a pre-recorded television interview, the Russian leader said he’d been prepared to put Moscow’s nuclear capabilities on standby as tensions flared over Ukraine last winter. “[Crimea] is our historical territory. Russian people live there,” he explained. The news comes as Putin appeared for the first time in 11 days. His vanishing act fueled speculation over his health and a possible power struggle, but he didn’t offer an explanation. He simply met with Kyrgyzstan’s president, as planned.

    BBC, Time, The Guardian


  1. Cinderella Live-Actioner Makes Real Money

    Looks like Disney’s titular heroine won’t turn into a pumpkin anytime soon. The live-action version of the popular, 1950s classic movie made $70 million at the U.S. box office plus $62.4 million overseas, becoming the latest hit in the company’s movie-remake strategy. Recent big hits based on old films include Maleficent and Alice and Wonderland.  The movie, starring Lily James as the young girl and Helena Bonham-Carter as the fairy godmother, is expected to have long legs at the movies, with few strong competitors until summer.


  2. ‘The Jinx’ Subject Inadvertently Confesses 

    He dug his own grave. While giving an interview for HBO’s documentary series about the string of murders he’s suspected of committing, Robert Durst, eccentric scion to a New York fortune, confessed he “killed them all.” The catch? He muttered it to himself in the bathroom, apparently forgetting his microphone. Durst was arrested Saturday and will be tried for murder in California. Though legal experts agree most judges will allow it into evidence, Durst could argue he was coerced — or that his words were sarcasm. 

    The Atlantic, BBC

  3. Boston Yeti ’Beats Blizzard, Becomes Mayor’

    Beantown made history last night, topping off its miserable winter with 2.9 more inches of snow that raised its total to a whopping 108.6. The snowfall broke the city’s previous record of 107.6 inches. Mayor Marty Walsh tweeted that a Yeti was stepping in as interim mayor, while meteorologists applauded the prize-winning precipitation. But weary, shovel-swinging residents responded frostily, demanding spring. As the icy memories begin to fade, Bostonians can at least find solace in being “miserable champions.”

    Boston Globe, LA Times

  4. Forget Life on Mars, It’s All About Moons

    Are we looking in the wrong place for ET? Water is considered key to finding alien life, and it’s recently been found in surprising places in our solar system: on icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn. While exploration projects had been concentrated on Mars, these frozen moons may prove the most habitable extraterrestrial spots. But for our understanding to reach new depths, we must first take the plunge — and exciting lunar exploration may begin as early as 2022, with a Europa Clipper mission to Jupiter.


  5. Cuba Debuts First Free Public Wi-Fi

    They’re making the connection. America’s island neighbor has ushered in the future, allowing residents access to free Wi-Fi. Castro’s government had been keeping an iron grip on bandwidth, but with tensions easing, a cultural center in Havana has been granted a state-authorized hookup. This slow but promising start gives Cubans a link to the outside world unlike anything they’ve seen for decades. The next step? A physical connection, in the form of a weekly flight from New York to Havana.

    The Verge, The Atlantic

  6. March Madness Pecking Order Settled

    Selection Sunday went down as expected, at least for the front-runners in college basketball’s annual tournament. Undefeated Kentucky took the top spot, looking poised to become the first team since the ’76 Hoosiers to win a championship without a single loss. Duke and Villanova also clinched prime positions, while Wisconsin secured its first-ever No.1 seed by toppling Michigan State in a thrilling come-from-behind overtime victory. It’s all up for grabs still, with the First Four match-ups tipping off tomorrow.

    ESPN, SBNation