The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Boston Marathon Bomber Found Guilty

    The verdict is in. Jury members in the Boston Marathon bombing trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev found him guilty on all 30 counts, 17 of which are eligible for the death penalty. In its decision, the jury found Tsarnaev liable for the four deaths and 260 injuries connected to the bombing. The jury deliberated for 11.5 hours before reaching their decision, with many family members of the victims in attendance. Jury members will reconvene next week to decide whether he will face the death penalty of life in prison.

    Boston Herald

  2. U.S. Drug Legalization Impacts Cartels

    That’s one way to stop drug importation. The U.S. Border Patrol reports that seizure of marijuana has fallen steadily since 2011, and Mexico’s police are seeing a similar trend. Most are blaming the incresed legitimacy of the U.S. pot trade, that encourages artisan brands of marijuana and locks the bottom of the barrel Mexican drug varieties out of the market and decreasing Mexican gang violence. The legal marijuana trade grew 74% in 2014 — it’s now a $2.7 billion industry — and it should hit $4 billion by next year. 


  3. Nuke Deal Crucial to Iran’s Future

    They’re in the home stretch. With a general agreement in place on Iran’s nuclear programs, negotiators have another few months to finalize the terms of the deal. It may still sink, but Iran’s leadership has the ultimate motivation to forge ahead: It’s what the people want. Analysts say that if the deal falls through now, disappointed Iranians who saw an end to their isolation in reach may become impossible for the regime to manage. The next step is getting public approval from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who’s stayed quiet thus far. 


  4. Afghan Soldier Targets U.S. Troops, Kills One

    It was an inside attack. One American was killed, and at least two others were wounded in Jalalabad today before the Afghan soldier taking aim was killed. Provincial leaders were meeting with a U.S. Embassy official in the governor’s compound when the insider attack occurred. Taliban militants have been known to dress as soldiers in attacks on international soldiers, but this incident marks the second time this year that an Afghan soldier has turned on American government workers.


  5. ISIS Frees Hundreds of Iraqi Hostages

    They were the lucky survivors. ISIS terrorized the Yazidi religious minority last year, chasing them into the mountains and murdering them by the hundreds. Now Arab tribal leaders have negotiated the release of at least 216 Yazidi hostages, mostly women and children, after eight months of captivity. Though coalition forces are pushing ISIS out of some of its claimed territory in Iraq, the extremist caliphate still controls about a third of the country. The Iraqi army is currently mounting an offensive in Anbar province to reclaim even more. 

    CNN, The Guardian, NYT

  6. No Repeat for Scottish Referendum

    They only got one shot. That’s the position of UK prime minister David Cameron, who roundly dismissed Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s hint that a second referendum could give Scotland another shot at independence if the region’s 2016 parliamentary election manifests more separatist sentiment. Sturgeon, who leads the Scottish National Party, is seen as a potential kingmaker in this election, as she has influence over a substantial block of left-leaning votes. Meanwhile, the anti-immigration Ukip has lost a quarter of its support in four months, according to polls.  

    FT (sub), Independent

  7. Shell Set to Buy BG Group for $70 Billion

    The petroleum giant has secured a $69.6 billion cash and share buyout deal for BG Group PLC. It gives BG shareholders 383 pence per share, plus .4454 B shares in Royal Dutch Shell. BG shares soared on the news, rising 38 percent in early trading today, but Shell’s stock dropped 4.8 percent. The move was prompted by an increasingly shaky oil-and-gas industry, and Shell hopes the new firm will be a “a more competitive, stronger company,” that can weather the storm.

    WSJ (sub), FT (sub)


  8. EU Wary as Greek Leader Visits Moscow

    Will he cuddle up to Putin? Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is in Moscow today for talks. His administration has been flirting with closer Russian relations, recently calling sanctions a “road to nowhere.” There’s been speculation that Putin will offer Greece funds that others say Moscow can’t afford. But the Greek leader’s best bet for profit? Wooing voters back home who are fed up with European austerity by courting favor with Putin. Eurozone creditors, meanwhile, will be watching warily for signs of Greece’s true intentions today as bailout talks continue in a bid to keep Athens afloat.

    BBC, DW

  9. Family Speaks After S.C. Shooting

    Walter Scott’s parents are thankful. As they mourn their son’s death, they credit cellphone video with ensuring that the cop who appears to have killed their son is punished. They plan to file a civil lawsuit, a lawyer says. Meanwhile protesters have gathered at City Hall to call out what they say is systemic racism. There are calls for South Carolina to finally pass a bill that would require police to wear body cameras. Officers have pushed back, but this case appears to be undermining their stance.

    NBC, USAT, Reuters, Fusion

  10. Chinese Insurance Firms Target U.S. Land

    They’ve set their sights on Beantown. Ping An Insurance and China Life Insurance Group Co., China’s largest insurance firms, are leading the charge of Chinese real-estate investment in America, securing a majority stake in a $500 million construction project in Boston’s Seaport District. China only lifted a ban on insurers buying foreign property in 2012, and they’ve already scooped up $2.5 billion worth in foreign property this year alone. That’s more than all their previous purchases combined, and developers expect Beijing’s U.S. holdings to keep growing.

    WSJ (sub) 

  11. S.C. Police Officer Faces Murder Charge 

    He said one thing, the video said another. White police officer Michael T. Slager claimed he feared for his life when 50-year-old Walter L. Scott, a black man he’d confronted in a routine traffic stop in North Charleston, S.C., grabbed his stun gun on Saturday. But cell-phone footage shows Slager fatally shooting an apparently unarmed Scott in the back — a racially charged incident that follows controversial shootings from Ferguson to New York. Authorities responded and arrested Slager, who, if convicted, could face the death penalty.

    NBC, NYT


  1. Apple Watch Draws Rave Reviews

    The watch isn’t life-changing. Reviewers needed days to get the hang of things. The first version still has bugs, it’s slow, not all apps work with the watch, and the Average Joe may want to wait for the next iteration.  But let’s be clear: Apple’s new watch is a game-changer. It’s an extension of your smartphone, with easier reach and subtler alerts, combined with health tracking capabilities. Add the company’s deep retail reach, and this may be the first widely accepted smart watch. Game on.

    Re/code, The Verge

  2. Americans Have Rage Issues and Guns

    It’s a lethal combination. A new study published in Behavioral Sciences and the Law found that 1 in 10 Americans have both anger management issues and access to a firearms, and that 1.5 percent of adults with impulsive anger problems carry a gun on their person. Talk about the connection between mental health problems and access to guns is common, especially after mass shooting events, but the researchers say we should be looking out for the angry guy with the legal gun instead. 

    Huffington Post

  3. Designer Fashion Embraces the Sweatpant

    Call it a case of “if you can’t fight ’em, join ’em.” High-end retailers have created well-tailored men’s workout pants that can run well north of $150. It’s part of a fashion push to turn clothing more often associated with the gym into acceptable, even trendy, daily wear. And the trend gives athletic wear firms a new angle – Nike now has a women’s couture line. Fashion experts suggest men dress up the look with a blazer. It looks like any other pant from a distance – just don’t look too closely. 

    KQED, BI

  4. New Emojis Released in Apple’s Update

    It puts a new face on the iPhone. About 300 new emojis are available, and the promised racially diverse emojis are among them, with five skin-tone choices available for each of the little faces. If you’re seeing lots of odd boxes or alien faces on Twitter or in texts today, it’s because you haven’t downloaded the update yet — those boxes are the new emojis, and your old ioS can’t handle them.  The update also comes with a Spock emoji, a tribute to Leonard Nimoy. 

    Tech Crunch, MacObserver

  5. You Tube to Ditch Commercials, for a Fee

    It’s up to the viewer. Youtube has announced plans for a paid subscription service, but few details beyond that fact. They explained that a portion of subscription fees would go to video creators, much as advertising fees currently do, and that the new system starts on June 15. For consumers, specifics of pricing and timing are still up in the air, but some are speculating that some premium content may only be made available to subscribers.


  6. Tiger Woods Returns to Masters

    The first major tournament of the year tees up in Augusta, Ga., Thursday. Woods returns after two months off the green, saying his bad back is better. Will Rory McIlroy complete his career Grand Slam? Will the white-hot Jordan Spieth, 21, win his first major? Is it time for a new generation of 20-something up-and-comers to claim the green jacket, or does the 30-something crowd still have something to prove? We’ll know by Sunday.

    Bleacher Report, NYT, Golf Digest

  7. Obama Gets Personal on Climate Change

    It’s not just polar bears. The president told journalists how taking his athsma-stricken daughter Malia to an emergency room when she was little helps drive home the importance of fighting climate change. It’s something many parents can appreciate, even if they can’t get their brains around climate science. He made the point during a Tuesday panel with his EPA chief and surgeon general on environmental health impacts. In two years, the percentage of Americans convinced about warming (55) hasn’t grown. Officials hope the personal approach will break the ice.

    ABC, CNN

  8. Balloons Fly ‘The Interview’ into N. Korea

    Let’s hope none of them were red. Defector Lee Min-bok says he’s used balloons to send 80,000 copies of the Seth Rogan-James Franco comedy into the Hermit Kingdom. The regime called the movie, which depicts the assassination of leader Kim Jong-un, an “act of terror” and is believed to have initiated a debilitating hacking attack on Sony Pictures, which made the film. Like many reviewers, Lee said he dislikes the film, but it shows Kim as he is: “a man, not a god.”

    The Verge

  9. Women Down to Final Four in $20 Bill Fight

    They’re putting money on one of four ladies. WomenOn20s is campaigning to replace President Andrew Jackson with a female on the $20 bill, and they’ve narrowed it to four candidates: Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman and Wilma Mankiller, first female chief of the Cherokee nation. More than 256,000 people have voted, and the ballot remains open. With a winner in hand in a few weeks, they hope to convince the U.S. Treasury to make the change by 2020 and may even get Obama’s support.

    Detroit Free PressKTUL


  10. Jeff Bezos Is Looking to Have a Blast

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist … so much as an entrepreneurial billionaire. Amazon’s founder is rocketing into the commercial space trade, with his company, Blue Origin, announcing that they’ll launch test flights later this year for commercial passenger rockets. Bezos, who ranks 15th on Forbes’ billionaires list, is planning space trips to ferry scientific equipment to astronauts, but he’ll also zoom paying customers in a three-person ship 62 miles above the Earth. Tickets aren’t on sale yet, but you can bet prices will be sky-high. 



  11. Brontosaurus Makes a Comeback

    They’re still extinct, but at least they’re distinct. The Brontosaurus was first described in 1879, but in 1903 paleontologists decided it was part of the Apatosaurus genus and began referring to the species as Apatosaurus excelsus. But new analysis from an international team says the “thunder lizard” is in fact a unique genus. The discovery — a paleontological equivalent of Pluto being deemed a planet again — should breathe new life into children’s favorite dinosaur.

    Scientific AmericanSmithsonian, CNET

  12. ‘Arrested Development’ Starts Up Again

    It just keeps peddling extravagant dysfunction. Seventeen more episodes of the cult hit about the Bluth family are coming your way, a follow-up to the three original seasons that aired from 2003-2006 and its first return season, a 13-episode run on Netflix in 2013. The on-demand streaming giant alluded to a new season last year, but executive producer Brian Grazer has finally confirmed it. So prepare for binge watching in true Bluth style while feasting on hot ham water.  

    FusionAV Club

  13. UConn Scores 10th National Win for Coach

    The Irish were no match for the Huskies, who prevailed in Tuesday’s national championship final, 63-53. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Moriah Jefferson netted 15 points each, and Breanna Stewart — aka Stewie — added 15 rebounds and eight points, securing UConn’s third consecutive win and coach Geno Auriemma’s 10th national title. Auriemma hailed his talented crew, and fans quickly looked to next year with hopes that Stewie achieves her goal of winning four — she needs one more — national titles at UConn.