The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Tunisia’s President Vows to Fight Back

    He’s declaring war. President Beji Caid Essebsi railed against the “monstrous” terrorists who attacked a Tunis museum, killing at least 21 people including two of the gunmen. While police hunt down accomplices, Tunisians have gathered outside the Bardo Museum to stand vigil in memory of their two fallen countrymen and the 17 tourists from all around the world who were also killed. Parliament was evacuated — during a discussion of anti-terrorism legislation — but was back in session by evening to discuss a way forward. 


    NYTBBCThe Guardian

  2. Rand Paul to Announce Candidacy 

    This is no exploratory committee. Sources have leaked that Rand Paul, Kentucky senator and son of libertarian icon Ron Paul, will indeed be running for president in 2016. They say he’ll announce his candidacy on April 7, which would make him the first official presidential candidate this campaign season. Contenders for the GOP nomination will likely include fellow senator Marco Rubio and former governor Jeb Bush, who has formed a committee to support his expected run. Paul’s announcement is expected to kick off four days of intense campaigning.


  3. What Does Netanyahu’s Next Term Hold?

    In the final days of his hard-fought election, Bibi swerved to the right, declaring that a two-state solution was a no go. Now that he’s won the election, in large part by gaining votes from hardline nationalist parties rather than centrist support, it’s not clear how completely he intends to follow through on that promise. But Palestine’s leadership is taking him at his word, and some are vowing to cease cooperation with Israel and instead make the case to the global community for full statehood.

    WSJ, NYT

  4. Death Threats Sent to Caroline Kennedy

    And she’s not the only one. Kennedy, who’s serving as the US ambassador to Japan, was the target of ominous phone calls to the embassy in Tokyo promising violence. Another diplomat also received threats, and the US and Japan are cooperating to find the instigator. It’s not clear why the threats were made, but after the US ambassador to South Korea was attacked with a knife earlier this month, officials are taking no chances — especially with Michelle Obama currently traveling in Japan to promote education for girls. 

    DW, CNN

  5. UVA Student Allegedly Beaten by Police

    This time the cameras captured it. After a black student at the University of Virginia was denied entry to a local bar, the police arrested — and injured — him, and the campus has erupted in protest. Martese Johnson, a 20-year-old honor student, reportedly called the cops who were arresting him “racists” as blood dripped into his eyes from his head injury, which required ten stitches. Virginia’s governor is asking for an investigation, and students are organizing protests against the behavior of the cops who booked Johnson.

    Bloomberg, WP

  6. Russia and South Ossetia Sign Treaty

    Some would call it a takeover. President Putin is expanding his influence once again with today’s treaty with Georgia’s breakaway region, which integrates South Ossetia’s economy and military into Russia’s. Georgia denounced the agreement as “intentional provocation,” and the US refused to recognize it. Russia has been in de facto control of South Ossetia since 2008, and signed a nearly identical treaty last year with another rebellious Georgian region, Abkhazia. Critics say the next step will be a Crimea-style annexation.

    Al Jazeera, Sydney Morning Herald   

  7. Mall Massacre Mastermind Killed by Drone

    He was considered a top target. Al Shabaab leader Adnan Garar is thought to have planned the September 2013 attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall, and now the Pentagon has confirmed that he was killed by a US drone in Somalia last week. The Westgate massacre killed dozens and was just one of the attacks al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for in recent years. Garar’s death hasn’t slowed them down: On Wednesday, they set upon a Kenyan village and killed four people.

    CNN, ABC, AFP 

  8. ECB Protest Turns Violent in Germany

    This isn’t the house-warming they had in mind. Riots broke out and police cars were set alight today as the European Central Bank prepared to open its new home in Frankfurt. Dozens have been injured and hundreds arrested following clashes with authorities. Activists descended to “Blockupy” the $1.4 billion headquarters and express anger over the ECB’s influence over austerity measures in eurozone countries, particularly Greece. Police, meanwhile, are bracing more violence, and the bank intends to remain “fully operational,” no matter what.

    BBC, DW

  9. Gunman Arrested After Arizona Rampage

    Several blocks of Mesa, Ariz. were on lockdown this morning as an unidentified man raced through the area, shooting six people and stealing a car. One victim died. The shootings began with a motel argument, after which the suspect apparently wreaked havoc on a restaurant and in a nearby apartment complex. Police believe the man acted alone, and now Arizona officials are just urging the Phoenix suburb to heal and support the victims in the shooting’s aftermath. 

    USA Today, NBC

  10. Presbyterians Approve Gay Marriage

    They’re the largest Protestant group in America, with 1.8 million members in 10,000 congregations across the U.S. And they just approved a new definition of marriage: a “commitment between two people.” Traditionally a man and a woman, they note, but it doesn’t have to be. Ministers who disagree don’t have to perform gay marriages, and 41 local presbyteries voted against the move. But it’s still a historic move for the major American religious institution.

    NYT, CSM

  11. Serbia Arrests Seven Srebrenica Suspects

    Serbian authorities have made arrests linked to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of thousands of Muslims. They’ve taken seven men into custody, charging them with the murders of 1,000 Bosnians at a warehouse near the now-infamous town. While the country has tried people indirectly linked to the killings before, this is the first time they’ve detained suspected murderers. Authorities say the arrests  which included a prominent businessman — signal to the victims that the decades-old crimes will never be forgotten.

    NYT, The Guardian

  12. Syria Claims to Shoot Down U.S. Drone

    Is Assad firing at the U.S.? Syria claims it has destroyed an American surveillance drone in what could be the first regime attack on U.S. aircraft since anti-ISIS airstrikes began last September. The drone was reportedly downed over President Bashar Assad’s ancestral home of Latakia, where Nusra Front — and notably not ISIS — extremists are known to be active. U.S. officials acknowledge losing contact with an aircraft and are investigating an incident that is likely to further heighten tensions with the regime.

    DW, Al Jazeera

  13. Federal Reserve Sees Moderate Growth

    We’re doing fine, thank you. The Fed emerged from its Federal Open Market Committee meeting declaring that economic growth has moderated somewhat, but held open the possibility it might hike interest rates in a few months. Chair Janet Yellen said the Fed is still focused on achieving maximum employment while maintaining inflation at 2 percent. Experts expect a slight uptick in interest rates in June, but it’s not guaranteed, especially as the Fed weighs the dollar’s increased power. 

    Board of Governors, Tim Duy’s Fed Watch 

  14. White House ‘Cyanide Letter’ Intercepted

    The beleaguered Secret Service needs to deliver — and they’re lucky the post office didn’t. According to the agency, an envelope bound for 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. has been intercepted and tested, returning a “presumptive positive” for cyanide. It was caught at an off-site mail screening facility, and there have been no reported injuries. The agency — reeling from recent scandals and currently bidding to have an $8 million replica White House built for training — has launched an investigation and is awaiting further tests.



  1. Target Catching Up to Walmart

    It’s the invisible hand. While federal minimum wage increases haven’t got much traction, basic capitalism may be doing the trick. Since Wal-Mart upped earnings for its lowest-paid workers, analysts have hoped other big box stores would follow, and today it happened: Target will raise its minimum wage to $9 an hour starting in April. Hourly workers are in high demand, and an inability to retain them leads to higher costs for training and recruitment. We’ll see if Target follows when Wal-Mart increases wages to $10 by next winter.

    WSJ, Business Insider 

  2. Comedian Convicted of ’Condoning Terrorism’

    But he isn’t going to jail for it. French funnyman Dieudonné has a controversial history — he’s been convicted of slander several times and his shows have been labeled anti-Semitic by some. But he went too far with a Facebook post after the Charlie Hebdo attacks saying he identifies as ”Charlie Coulibaly,” the surname of the man who killed hostages at a Paris supermarket in January. He’ll have to pay a $32,000 fine to stay out of jail, but he’s refused to pay similar penalties in the past.

    Al Jazeera, Vice  

  3. UK Creates Huge Ocean Preserve

    Let’s go snorkeling! PM David Cameron has announced the creation of the 322,000-square-mile preserve around its Pitcairn Islands, in the South Pacific, banning fishing or seafloor mining. These waters contain one of the most pristine coral reefs in the world, as well as top predators, algae species and abundant unnamed and undiscovered wildlife. The ocean near Tahiti is expected to attract curious new travelers, while potentially generating income for the islands. Satellite imagery will enforce the legislation starting immediately. Look for more pro-reef measures of this kind in the future. 

    National Geographic

  4. Obama Makes Annual NCAA Tourney Picks

    The Prez says Kentucky will take the whole kitty. Filling out his bracket for the college national championship for the seventh straight year, the sitting POTUS chose the Wildcats to run out their undefeated season. The exercise is nationally televised on ESPN every year, offering the public a glimpse into the sporting life of their leader. The president has correctly guessed the eventual champion only once – on average, he’s landed around the 73rd percentile. This year he picked several upsets in the early rounds, but serious gambling pundits probably aren’t paying him any mind.


  5. San Francisco’s Wealthiest Get $66K Raise

    It’s more than many see all year. The average earnings for the City by the Bay’s richest residents increased 18 percent in 2013, or a whopping $66,000, according to a new report. That’s higher than the state’s median household income and enough to cover a year of tuition at Stanford. But it’s just one example of cities across America that saw a boost for the richest or the poorest, but rarely an overlap — meaning more must be done to bridge the income inequality gap.

    Bloomberg, Washington Post

  6. Crimea Marks Annexation Anniversary

    Like a March lion, Russia took the Crimea a year ago this week. Russian polls overwhelmingly favor the move, and show that locals believe the international community will eventually accept the new rule. Young women who marched in support of Putin are speaking out in favor of their Russian way of life. But those against the takeover remain marginalized and threatened. Crimean Tatars, who form some 13 percent of the population, shoulder the worst. Russia may have come to the Crimea, but peace hasn’t.

    The Daily Beast, Bloomberg, Telegraph, Vice

  7. Relief Finally Comes to Vanuatu

    The caves saved them. Many of the Pacific islanders may have lived in little more than huts, but they understood the elements. They knew to build their homes well away from the shore. Some hid in caves to escape what officials are calling the worst storm to ever hit the islands. Foreign doctors on the scene liken the aftermath of Pakistan’s floods, but finally, shipments of food and water are starting to make their way to those who need it. Recovery could take years.

    Al Jazeera, ABC News

  8. Metal Shards Prompt Kraft Recall

    Check your pantry. The Chicago-based food giant says a manufacturing error may have left fragments of steel in some of its original flavor Macaroni & Cheese Dinner. It’s recalling 6.5 million boxes sold throughout the U.S., South America and the Caribbean in an incident that echoes another just four years ago, when wire bristles contaminated some Velveeta products. The recall is unlikely to help Kraft reclaim its place as a dinner-table standard amid competition from healthier options.

    BuzzFeed, Business Insider

  9. Avian Cholera Fells Thousands of Geese

    The sky may be falling. A bout of avian cholera has felled 2,000 snow geese crossing Idaho en route to Alaska, with the disease progressing so quickly — in as little as six hours — that birds have dropped from the sky mid-flight. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game incinerated the bodies, but not before scavenging bald eagles were spotted nearby. While the bacterial disease doesn’t threaten humans, concern is now turning to the well-being of the possibly contaminated eagles.

    Smithsonian, Chicago Tribune

  10. France May Ban Ultra-Thin Models

    For once, the City of Light isn’t setting the trend. But it may soon follow Spain, Israel and Italy down the runway of countries banning too-skinny models. The French government is expected to approve a bill that would ban Parisian catwalkers with BMIs under 18 and fine agencies up to $80,000 for hiring them. Staffers who encourage unhealthy weights could even face jail. While the thin-obsessed French capital isn’t leading the way on this, at least it’s arriving to the party fashionably late.

    CBC, Time

  11. Unlikely Pirates Win Shot at Wildcats

    They’re praying for a miracle. Hampton, the “68th team in a 68-team field,” kicked off March Madness last night by beating Manhattan in the First Four, 74-64, earning a match-up against undefeated Kentucky. Coach Edward Joyner Jr. said his Pirates will need “Jesus on speed dial” to win, but even then it’s doubtful. They’re the 24th team ever to squeak in with a losing record, while the top-seed Wildcats are poised to become the first team in 40 years to go all season without a loss.