The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Germanwings Pilot Suffered Depression

    Andreas Lubitz may have been sick. He suffered a “serious depressive episode” in 2009, after he finished pilot training, according to German media, and a torn-up doctor’s note discovered in his apartment — and several others saying he was too ill to work — show he hid an illness from his employers. While there’s been much speculation about Lubitz’s possible mental health state, the hospital that evaluated him said he was being treated — but not for depression. Either way, Lufthansa says it has no intention of changing its screening procedures. 

    NYT, NBC

  2. Israel Releases Palestine’s Tax Revenue

    Netanyahu’s trying to mend fences. After destroying relations with the U.S. and Palestine by refusing to support a two-state solution, the Israeli prime minister agreed to release three months of tax revenue to the Palestinian authority. He’d frozen the money when Palestine joined the ICC, retaliation for what Israel saw as inappropriately unilateral action. Israel has released money only for three months’ worth of taxes — they may be waiting for Palestine’s next move once it officially becomes part of the ICC next week.

    NYT, Reuters

  3. Greece’s Submits List of Fixes Early

    It was meant to be in Monday. But Greece, scrambling to appease Eurozone officials in the face of potential bankruptcy when its IMF loan payment comes due, turned in its list of economic reforms well ahead of schedule. Officials say none of the 18 reforms involves a cut to wages or pensions, and that combined the fixes should give the country an extra 3 billion dollars by later in 2015. If this list isn’t approved, Greece may find itself forced to exit the Eurozone. 


  4. Jury Rules for Kleiner in Gender Bias Suit

    There’s just one charge to be decided. The jury stood with Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers in the gender discrimination case brought by former partner Ellen Pao, deciding she hadn’t been kept from promotion unfairly and that the company tried to prevent bias against her. Pao said a partner pressured her into sex and then retaliated against her once she ended their personal relationship, and that Kleiner refused to promote women. The jury was split on whether the company retaliated against Pao, so they’ll continue deliberations.

    ABC, Reuters

  5. Knox’s Italian Conviction Overturned 

    It’s the final word. Amanda Knox and her Italian boyfriend, who were convicted of the murder of Knox’s roommate in 2009, have had their Italian court verdict overturned. Knox was already out of prison and back in the U.S. — the two were acquitted on appeal in 2011, but then those acquittals were reversed and they were sentenced to more than two decades in prison each. Until this verdict, Italy could have sought Knox’s extradition. Reasoning for today’s verdict will be released by the court within three months.


  6. Senate Leader Harry Reid Will Retire

    His last race has run. The Senate minority leader from Nevada announced Friday that he won’t seek reelection. Reid, 75, suffered a Jan. 1 accident that almost blinded him in one eye, and says that prompted him to reevaluate his priorities. Reid has a reputation as a fierce infighter who played a key role in passing Obama’s health care plan. His departure leaves a major hole in Nevada politics, but already wags see New York’s Sen. Chuck Schumer as the front-runner to fill the leadership void.

    Politico, NYT

  7. Crash Prompts Airlines to Change Rules

    They want to ensure it never happens again. French and German officials have agreed that the co-pilot of Germanwings flight 9525 deliberately crashed the plane after the other pilot left the cockpit. The flight recorder revealed that the commanding pilot was locked out and banged on the door while 27-year-old Andreas Lubitz steered the plane into the ground. German airlines voluntarily agreed to new guidelines that call for two members of the flight crew in the cockpit at all times. Others worldwide are weighing similar requirements.

    LA Times, USA Today, The Guardian

  8. Suspected Gas Blast Flattens NYC Buildings

    One person remains unaccounted for after an apparent gas explosion toppled two buildings on Second Avenue in the Big Apple yesterday, requiring scores of firefighters to extinguish the seven-alarm fire. Nineteen people were injured, four critically, and a man named Nicholas Figueroa is reportedly missing. Mayor Bill de Blasio said utility workers had been on the scene an hour before the blast and noted deficient work being done on the premises. But he added that the investigation is ongoing and he’s praying there are no fatalities.


  9. Yemeni Leader Flees to Riyadh

    He’s found a safe place to land. Publicly missing since fleeing Aden on Wednesday, Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has surfaced in Saudi Arabia. Airstrikes from the Saudi-led Arab coalition, meanwhile, have entered the second day of bombarding Shiite Houthi rebels who have pushed Yemen to the brink of civil war. This has provoked Iran to label the airstrikes as “dangerous,” but the Saudis remain undeterred, vowing to do “whatever it takes” to quash the rebels. Hadi, meanwhile, heads to Egypt tomorrow for an Arab League summit.

    BBC, Al Jazeera

  10. Zero Inflation Plagues Japan’s Economy

    Abenomics was supposed to help, but oil is proving a slippery slope. Reports today indicate that Japan’s core consumer price index hit zero percent in February — a two year low — raising concerns of deflation. The downturn’s being blamed on dropping oil prices and stagnant demand, which are plaguing the economy despite the country’s big fiscal revival program. With world oil prices beyond their control, eyes are on Japan’s central bank to inject more monetary stimulus to try and meet its two percent growth target.

    FT (sub), WSJ (sub)


  1. Indiana Gov. Approves Needle Exchange

    He’s made a U-turn. To halt the spread of HIV among intravenous drug users in Scott County, Gov. Mike Pence has declared the epidemic a public health emergency and sanctioned a short-term needle exchange program. More than 70 HIV cases since mid-December have been traced to illicit injections of prescription painkillers, presumably with dirty needles. Though long opposed to such programs, the Republican leader called his about-face a “commitment to compassion,” and the order remains in effect for 30 days.

    Indianapolis Star

  2. Obamas Said to Weigh Big Apple Move

    Life after the White House isn’t so far away for the first family. The Obamas call Chicago home, but some say they are eying a New York pad after the next election. Columbia University, the president’s alma mater, has an alluring bid for the presidential library. Chicago isn’t what it used to be, and the library plan there has become a political hot potato. Others note that living in New York, the epicenter of media and business, can help him stay relevant. Plus, there’s Five Guys all over the place.


  3. Apple’s Cook Want to Die Broke

    The late Steve Jobs never would have done this. He famously eschewed corporate philanthropy. Current CEO Tim Cook not only started encourages Apple employees to give — to the tune of more than $1.3 million – he’s also quietly giving away his personal fortune, worth north of $600 million. He hopes to systematically give it all way, sounding like Microsoft’s Bill Gates. Maybe now instead of battling in the marketplace, the tech titans will start battling for good — a game everyone wins.

    Quartz, Fortune

  4. Astronaut’s Year in Space to Help Science

    Scott Kelly won’t be the first to spend 350 days in space, but he is eyeing a new frontier. Today Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko blast off for the International Space Station, hoping to shed light on the physiological effects of extended periods off-planet. While it’s not a record-breaking journey, it holds special scientific promise: As researchers track Kelly in space, they’ll study his identical twin, former astronaut Mark Kelly, on the ground. Their findings could pilot humans toward future trips to Mars.


  5. CEOs Protest Indiana’s LGBT Law

    He’s giving Indiana a one-star review. Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman posted an open letter threatening Indiana (and other states considering similar policies) that the site won’t be doing any business in states that pass laws allowing discrimination against LGBT citizens, like that Gov. Mike Pence signed into law Thursday. Salesforce CEO Mike Benioff has been making similar threats via his Twitter account. Even the NCAA chimed in, saying it would monitor events during its Final Four men’s basketball tournament before weighing future events hosted in the Hoosier State.

    Yelp Blog, Washington Post

  6. Willie Nelson Launches Pot Operation

    It’s like Whole Foods for cannabis. The country music legend is making one of his favorite pastimes — getting high — into a luxury brand. With marijuana legalizations lighting up nationwide, Nelson is cashing in and launching Willie’s Reserve, environmentally grown weed and related products to be sold in brick-and-mortar stores in states where marijuana is legal. Other growers will need to account for their carbon footprint to sell their wares alongside Shotgun Willie’s — or watch their sales go up in smoke.

    Daily Beast

  7. Sam: “I’m Not the Only Gay NFL Player”

    He’s not alone. Michael Sam made history when he came out as gay before last year’s NFL draft. But in an interview he said several players later approached him to privately disclose their own homosexuality. However, those players told Sam they were not ready to come out yet. After giving a speech in Dallas, Sam insisted he doesn’t believe his free agent status is a result of his being gay but reported other players told him discrimination fears are keeping them in the closet for now.