The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. German Pilot Had ‘Suicidal Tendencies’

    He was cleared for takeoff with no indication that his self-destructive behavior had re-emerged. But the prosecutor’s office in Düsseldorf, Germany now says that Andreas Lubitz was treated for years for suicidal concerns, before he became a pilot. The office also says they have no evidence that Lubitz suffered a physical disorder, despite reports that he may have had a vision problem. Officials aren’t saying that they understand why Lubitz may have steered a plane full of passengers into a mountain, but the picture may have just gotten a little clearer, and a little darker.

    NYT, BBC

  2. AIIB Wins Over Japan (Probably) 

    The U.S. is losing allies quickly. Though Obama has warned countries friendly to the U.S. that the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, China’s answer to the IMF, may shift global power to the East and upset the balance of world finance, Japan has become the latest country expected to join the bank. That would make the U.S. the last major economy to hold out against the bank. Japan will likely join by June, reversing its earlier caution toward the project as a potential rival for the Asian Development Bank. 

    FT (sub)

  3. Personal Info for World Leaders Goes Public

    It was an accident. An official in Australia’s Department of Immigration accidentally emailed data about 31 world leaders who attended a G20 summit in November, including Barack Obama and Angela Merkel, to the organizers of the Asian Cup football tournament. The Australians say that since the data sent out — passport numbers, visa numbers and birth dates — is largely already available and since the email was deleted immediately and apparently not stored on servers, they feel the risks of the breach are very low. 

    BBC, NYT

  4. Iran Throws Wrench in Nuclear Talks

    Will this nuke the deal? With a Tuesday deadline looming, Iranian leaders have just U-turned on a crucial element of what many hoped was a pending nuclear agreement: transferring atomic fuel out of the country. Tehran had tentatively agreed to ship its enriched uranium stockpiles to Russia but backtracked on Sunday, saying, “There is no question of sending the stocks abroad.” Western leaders insist a deal is still possible, but opponents are unlikely to savor the thought of Iran hoarding nuclear fuel.

    BBC, NYT

  5. Shots Fired, One Dead, at NSA HQ

    It was an “unauthorized entry.” According to a spokeswoman, two men dressed as women in a car stolen from a nearby hotel tried to enter the gate of the National Security Agency in Maryland. One of the people in the car died after it struck a police vehicle and the other, along with an NSA cop, went to the hospital. The agency isn’t releasing many details beyond that, as their own investigation is underway, but they are saying they don’t think it was related to terrorism.  

    AP, LA TimesBuzzfeed

  6. Arab League to Build Joint Military Force

    They’re taking on neighborhood bullies. Arab leaders agreed this weekend to create a joint military force to handle the Yemen crisis and Islamist militants. Fears have been mounting over a proxy war in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is backing government efforts to quash Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels — not to mention worry over gains made by ISIS in Iraq, Libya and Syria. It’s unlikely all 22 league members will join the force, which could take months to build, but the plan signals fatigue with instability in their backyard.

    FT (sub), LA Times

  7. France Says ‘Oui’ to Sarkozy’s UMP

    Sarkozy’s 15 minutes aren’t up after all — but Francois Hollande’s days may be numbered. Voters handed control of at least 70 of France’s 98 departments to Nicolas Sarkozy’s right-wing Union for a Popular Movement, giving Hollande’s Socialists their walking papers. Despite doing well in local elections a week earlier, Marine Le Pen’s National Front did not gain control of any departments. Prime Minister Manuel Valls acknowledged the electorate’s message and said lessons must be learned ahead of 2017’s presidential election, but offered no major policy shifts. 

    France 24

  8. Tunisian Throngs Decry Extremism

    They’re not cowering in ancient Carthage, as the terrorists would’ve liked. Tens of thousands took to the streets of Tunis yesterday for a two-mile march starting at the Bardo Museum, site of the March 18 carnage that claimed 22 lives. Authorities announced yesterday that nine militants, including the suspected leader of the group responsible for the attack, were killed near the Algerian border this weekend. As Tunisians defiantly displayed their disdain for terror, officials scrambled to restore faith in the nation’s much-needed tourism industry.

    DW, BBC


  1. Jay-Z Launches New Music Service 

    Bye-bye, Spotify. Yesterday, Beyoncé’s other half was joined by the likes of Usher, Madonna, Rihanna and Kanye to launch Tidal, the first artist-owned streaming service for music and video. The new platform aims to compete with Spotify and Apple’s service headed by Dr. Dre. Pricing is tiered, with monthly fees ranging from $10 to $20, but with one major difference to other services: nothing is free. So artists stand to earn more, but first they have to convince customers to ride a new wave. 

    Billboard, Daily Mail

  2. Tampons: A Tool to Fight Pollution

    Look for the blue light special. Tampons are being used to determine if rivers are contaminated with “gray water,” or water from showers and dishwashers that finds its way into rivers and streams that don’t have facilities to deal with wastewater. Researchers in Yorkshire dropped tampons into nearby rivers to determine if optical brighteners, chemicals used in detergent, are in the water — the tampons absorb the chemicals and turn blue under UV light. The next step is encouraging communities to volunteers who’ll use tampons to check their local waters. 


  3. Trevor Noah Lands in ‘Daily Show’ Hot Seat

    Filling his shoes will be a laughing matter. Jon Stewart’s pending replacement as The Daily Show’s anchor will be … Trevor Noah, a virtual unknown outside his native South Africa, where he hosted a late-night talk show. Noah, 31, joined the U.S. show in December, but has only appeared in three segments. Today the broadcaster is set to announce the biracial comedian’s promotion, which will likely take hold later this year. Noting that there’s no “next Jon Stewart,” Comedy Central’s President Michele Ganeless said they looked for someone who would bring “something really exciting and new and different.”

    NYT, Huffington Post, OZY


  4. Tesla Announces Mysterious New Product

    We know it’s not a car. But that’s essentially the only detail anyone other than Elon Musk knows for sure, other than that the new product line will be announced the last day of April. Most insiders have a pretty good guess, though: Musk promised investors in February that he’d be unveiling a home battery “soon,” and Tesla has been testing the batteries for two years as well as building a battery factory that could make batteries for houses as well as Tesla’s line of electric cars.


  5. Amazon’s Drone Testing Moves to Canada

    That’ll teach U.S. regulators. Amazon is anxious to move forward with its promised drone delivery service but the FAA has been dragging its feet on approving the project. So the tech giant has done what it threatened to do in December and begun testing in Canada instead. Of course, Amazon will still butt heads with U.S. regulators when it wants to offer the drone service in the United States, but at least by that time it’ll have ample evidence that the drone services are safe and useful. 


  6. Obama Plans Kenya Visit

    It’s his familial home. He visited before he ran for president, and villagers celebrated his White House victory. This summer, Obama plans to attend the international Global Entrepreneurship Summit in July, the first time the summit will be held in sub-Saharan Africa. The White House won’t say if he’ll visit the homes of his father’s relatives — and his — who still live there. But hope has always been an Obama mantra.

    Politico, Bloomberg

  7. Virtual Realty Takes Aim at Cops

    Could a computer game train police officers to better respond in the moment? A new program walks cops through simulated situations they might face on the job. Police trainers can change scenarios based on what they want to test, use different weapons, check officers’ biases, and review officer’s performance. Instead of simply testing their weapons knowledge annually at a gun range, for example, departments could also test officers’ in-the-moment judgment. This may not solve all police problems, but it may not hurt.


  8. Hackers Claim to Sell Uber Passwords

    Do they have permission to ride? Hackers say they’ve infiltrated Uber’s systems and are allegedly selling user login information for $1 a password on dark net sites. Along with the prospect of free rides, the accounts also offer partial credit card information and telephone numbers. The transport app says it has found no trace of a security breach, but then, if fakers were using real login information, it could be hard to trace. But this may be the perfect time to take that new password for a spin.


  9. Dad Downs Daughter’s Laced Brownies

    That dessert went to pot. One Michigan father devoured several brownies his daughter made last week … only to learn that he was the one getting baked. The 58-year-old called 911 because he feared he was suffering a stroke, and his daughter later confessed to having thrown cannabis in the batter. Dad has come down from his high and been released from the hospital, but his daughter may face criminal charges — and probably won’t be allowed back in the kitchen anytime soon.


  10. Coffee Reduces Liver Cancer Risk

    Even moderate alcohol consumption can lead to increased risk of liver cancer, but researchers now say that regular intake of joe can help keep the disease at bay. The news stems from analysis of 34 scientific studies involving eight million people and nearly 25,000 cases of liver cancer. Earlier studies have linked coffee drinking to reduced risk of developing multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. And while more research is needed, drinkers now have a whole new reason to raise a glass … to their favorite brew.

    Design&Trend, UPI

  11. Cities, Businesses Weigh in on Indiana Law

    Seattle and San Francisco are banning city employees from traveling to Indiana for work, objecting to municipal funds benefiting a state that’s just adopted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which many see as a license to discriminate against gay people. Apple CEO Tim Cook has written an op-ed, calling inequality on religious grounds “dangerous,” and several firms have pulled business from the Hoosier state. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, meanwhile, regrets the “misunderstanding” over the bill but has vowed not to change it.

    UPI, Seattle Times

  12. Big Music Festivals Ban Selfie Sticks

    They can stick out their tongues, but they’ll need long-armed friends to get the shot. Coachella and Lollapalooza have banned the ubiquitous selfie stick, leaving festival-goers to take inferior self-portraits the old-fashioned way. Safety concerns and fears of illegal concert recordings prompted the move, along with Coachella’s disdain for, as they put it, “narcissistics.” But attendees shouldn’t be surprised to find the contraband arm-extenders in sight — many figure it’ll be hard to make the ban stick.

    Spin, Rolling Stone

  13. Fab Final Four Set for Powerhouse Finale

    We’ve hit peak college basketball. There aren’t many surprises among the last four standing, including three No. 1 seeds: Kentucky, Wisconsin and Duke. Even seventh-seeded Michigan State, who squeaked through in overtime against Louisville yesterday, is a mainstay in postseason play. Still, things will be interesting when the tourney-favorite Wildcats face off against red-hot Wisconsin after only just beating Notre Dame. But the Spartans and Blue Devils take the court first, tipping off just after 6 p.m. ET next Saturday.

    NPR, Yahoo

  14. Browns Manager Suspended for Texting

    Today’s texts feature frowning emoji. The NFL has suspended Cleveland Browns General Manager Ray Farmer for four games starting next season over texts he sent to personnel during games in 2014. Team execs said they were unaware of the texts, and while Farmer would not confirm, it’s believed his correspondence concerned playing strategy. The team must also pay a $250,000 fine, but Ray and coach Mike Pettine are reportedly on good terms, and the Browns say Farmer won’t face any further disciplinary measures.