The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Iran Nuke Talks Extended Another Day

    They’ve run out of time but aren’t clocking out quite yet. Talks in Switzerland have spilled past the Tuesday night and are now expected to stretch into Thursday, but Germany’s foreign minister was cautiously optimistic that the negotiations could yield a viable deal. Though the U.S. has still expressed a willingness to walk away, Iran is pushing back, saying it expects other world powers to be flexible on the issues still proving problematic: When to lift sanctions, and how limited Iran’s nuclear capacity will be.

    NYT, WP

  2. Greece Finalizes List of Reforms

    And it’s 26 pages long. Greece has submitted its proposed financial fixes to eurozone authorities, hoping for bailout cash if their economic reforms are deemed acceptable. The plan could raise $6.5 billion over the course of a year, and might allow Athens to get the money to meet its financial obligations. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has scheduled meetings with Vladimir Putin, and it’s suspected he might turn to Russia for help if other options are closed. But Greek authorities are now expressing optimism that it won’t be necessary.  


  3. Seattle Phases in $15 Minimum Wage

    It might be setting a trend. No other major city has committed to such a high minimum, but Seattle’s taking the first step this week with an increase to $11 per hour to be increased to $15 over the next ten years. Ten states increased their minimum wages in 2014, and the wage hikes in Seattle are just part of a national progression toward paying a living wage that’s been championed by labor groups and shown success in recent movements by businesses to pay their low-wage workers better. 


  4. New Sanctions Target Cyber Attacks

    Mess with our systems, we’ll mess with your economic stability. That’s the message from Obama today, as he announced an executive order allowing authorities to freeze assets and make business dealings difficult for countries, companies and people who attack U.S. networks. It’s worth noting that the president made the announcement on publishing platform Medium, under his own byline — and that he endorsed net neutrality. It’s the latest example of how the White House uses the Internet to bypass traditional press and announce major initiatives in their own words.

    Medium, USAT

  5. Plane Crash Video Sparks Debate

    A video purportedly showing the last moments inside Germanwings flight 4U925 before the plane crashed into the French Alps have surfaced, according to reports in Europe’s Bild and Paris Match. “My God,” scream passengers, the reports say. Because of the nature of the videos, the publications didn’t release the footage. Prosecutors say they’ve seen no such recording, and question the validity of the reports. But the editors stand by their stories, and officials are calling for anyone with recordings of the flight to please come forward.

    Reuters, The Guardian

  6. Buhari Victory Marks Nigerian Progress

    Democracy won the day, Muhammadu Buhari the presidency. President Goodluck Jonathan’s good luck finally faded, but he conceded peacefully, signaling a victory for democratic change in Africa’s biggest economy. Buhari paid tribute to his opponent after surpassing him by more than two million votes, noting that the result proves Nigerians “have embraced democracy.” The former military chief is a tough disciplinarian who’s survived a suspected Boko Haram assassination attempt and is expected to clamp down on both the militants and corruption after taking the helm on May 29.

    BBC, DW

  7. Arkansas Joins ’Religious Freedom’ Fray

    The governor wants a recall.  Legislators in Arkansas jumped on Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s bandwagon and passed a similar religious freedom bill. Uproar over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, largely viewed as discriminatory against gay people, caused very public outrage from companies, celebrities and other cities. Even Walmart, Arkansas’ biggest employer, urged Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto the bill. He sent it back, and now the Arkansas house has passed a rewritten bill nearly identical to existing federal law.

    CNN, NYT, Huffington Post

  8. Forex Reserves in Emerging Markets Fall

    This isn’t good for business. Foreign currency reserves in emerging markets have dipped for the first time since 1995, falling $114.5 billion in 2014 to $7.74 trillion. Economists suspect the reserves will continue to shrink — thanks to poor market growth in developing economies and uncertainty over U.S. monetary policy — in the coming months. This will make it increasingly tough for emerging markets to buy up American and European debt, which has been a “foundation stone” of growth since 2004.

    FT (sub)


  1. Indian Firms Scrambling for Female Directors  

    They had plenty of notice. A law announced 13 months ago required Indian companies to find female board members or face serious consequences. They had until Tuesday to comply, but hundreds of companies still failed to include at least one woman on their board by the deadline — and many others saw executives appointing their wives to pay lip service to the law. India has been hoping to encourage female leadership, but also hopes that including women will increase efficiency of corporate boards. 

    Bloomberg, BBC   

  2. McDonald’s Raises Hourly Pay for Some

    But it won’t apply to all restaurants. The fast food giant’s new rules promise $1 more per hour than the local minimum wage, about a 10 percent raise. The raise, and new improvements to benefits, will affect about 90,000 workers — but that’s still only one-tenth of McDonald’s employees. The rest work at franchise restaurants, and won’t be covered under the new regulations. This should help McDonald’s hold on to workers as other major low-wage chains up compensation as well.

    Forbes, Business Insider  

  3. Exploding Head Syndrome Actually Exists 

    It sounds much worse than it is. This little-studied sleep disorder, which is the subject of a new study from Washington State University, causes sufferers to hallucinate enormous booming noises while they sleep and wake up to find nothing caused the sound. Nearly 1 in 5 people involved in the study had experienced the phenomenon, which researchers describe as a malfunction while the brain shuts down for sleep. Now research is needed to come up with a treatment, since currently drugs can only quiet the booms, not end them.

    Raw Story, Yahoo!

  4. California Orders Water Use Restrictions

    Golden State Governor Jerry Brown has issued an executive order: Cities and towns have to reduce their water usage by 25 percent — but they get to decide on a case by case basis just how to save it. That’ll make up a volume of water equal to 1,766 Empire State Buildings, and that still won’t solve the state’s water problem, just keep 2015 from making a dire situation even worse. Agricultural productions will also get massive new restrictions on the use and waste of H2O. 

    Wired, KCRA

  5. Justice Department Won’t Indict Lois Lerner

    They’re letting her off. The former IRS official has avoided prosecution after for her role in the agency’s alleged targeting of conservative groups. Former U.S. Attorney for D.C. Ronald Machen informed House Speaker John Boehner that he wouldn’t be pursuing a criminal case. For the past two years, Lerner has refused to testify on the manner and has only given one public interview. The FBI is still investigating Lerner and other FBI officials in a separate case concerning the alleged targeting of Tea Party members.


  6. Chris Rock Documents Multiple Traffic Stops

    He’s been doing this for months. The activist comedian has been quietly posting photos of himself online every time he gets stopped by the police — three times in the last eight weeks. Rock’s latest selfie sparked a minor controversy today when actor Isaiah Washington responded saying he’d sold his Mercedes to stop similar harassment and Twitter disputed what it saw as his claim that black men are stopped only when driving luxury cars. Hopefully Rock won’t be put off by the minor firestorm and will continue documenting injustice. 

    E!, Newsday

  7. Getty Grandson Found Dead in Bathroom

    They don’t think it was foul play. Andrew Getty, grandson to oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, died yesterday at his Hollywood Hills home. Police found the 47-year-old heir’s body in a sordid bathroom scene after reportedly being tipped off by an ex-girlfriend, whom Getty had recently filed a restraining order against. The deceased had been feeling unwell for months and had a doctor’s appointment set for today. Authorities believe he died of natural causes or an accident, but the investigation has just begun.

    Gawker, Daily Mail

  8. Joni Mitchell Rushed to Hospital

    An ambulance rushed the singer, found unconscious in her home, to the hospital yesterday afternoon. Mitchell is alert but in intensive care, according to reports. She has a history of medical crisis, including scarlet fever, and has long suffered from Morgellons, a skin condition. She stopped performing regularly after 2000. Mitchell’s home was the center of the Laurel Canyon music scene that birthed Crosby, Stills & Nash, and she became a 70s icon with songs like “Big Yellow Taxi” and “Circle Game.”

    Rolling Stone

  9. Ancient Cure Can Treat MRSAs

    They’re up to old tricks. Two British academics, an Anglo-Saxon expert and a microbiologist, have re-concocted an eye salve recipe found in a 10th century British medical guide, Bald’s Leechbook. They fermented a mixture of leeks, wine, garlic and bull bile in a copper pot for nine days … and found that it cures antibiotic-resistant MRSA infections, which kill thousands every year. The researchers plan to continue testing the potion’s efficacy and explore other ancient remedies in a bid to learn more from the past.

    Engadget, IBT

  10. Amazon Instant Buying Says ‘Knock Knock’

    Running out of supplies is no joke. The e-commerce giant, partnered with 18 brands like Huggies and Tide, has just unleashed Dash Buttons, tiny plastic adhesive devices that allow you to order your favorite products with a single push. Only one order is processed at a time, so sneaky guests and button-loving toddlers can’t Dash you 17 tons of Gatorade. The service is initially available by invitation only to those with Amazon Prime … and it has nothing to do with April Fools’ Day.

    Forbes, TechHive

  11. World’s Oldest Woman Dies at 117

    Misao Okawa hadn’t eaten much lately — that was the first sign of a decline in the Osaka native who had held the longevity title since 2013. Okawa, who just celebrated a birthday last month, died peacefully of natural causes. She was born in 1898. Her oldest son is 92. The title of world’s oldest now passes to Arkansas, where Gertrude Weaver resides. She was born July 4, 1898.

    Independent, NBC

  12. Noah’s Tweets Come Back to Bite Him

    He’s in the hot seat now. Trevor Noah, the 31-year-old comedian tipped to fill Jon Stewart’s shoes as host of The Daily Show, is being criticized for questionable past tweets — including jokes about Jews and women that were in poor taste. Comedy Central says criticisms of the purposely provocative comedian are “unfair,” and Noah claims the tweets are “not a true reflection” of his character. While this is unlikely to cool his chances, he’s already begun to feel the heat.

    The Atlantic, Time

  13. UConn, USC Sports Figures Boycott Indiana

    They’re staying put. Connecticut basketball staffers, including coach Kevin Ollie, are skipping the Final Four in Indianapolis this weekend. And USC Athletic Director Pat Haden is giving the College Football Playoff selection committee meetings — also in the Hoosier state capital — a pass. Both join the rising tide protesting Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, viewed by many as discriminatory against gay people. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is asking state legislators to “fix” the law, but anything short of a repeal may prove unsporting.

    The Guardian, USA Today