The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Marco Rubio Announces His Candidacy

    The Republican senator would be the first Hispanic president if he won the White House. The Miami native announced his 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. intentions on a call to supporters today, followed by a formal public launch before Miami crowds. It’s a risky step — he’s competing with fellow Floridian Jeb Bush, his political mentor. But number crunchers give him solid footing thanks to his credentials with the tea party and social conservatives. He’s expected to angle for youth and minority voters by appealing to optimism and the “American Dream.”

    NYT, Fivethirtyeight, Reuters

  2. Trapped Worker Forces Jet to Land 

    They were in the air for 14 minutes. That’s how long it took the captain of Alaska Airlines Flight 448 to hear the banging coming from the cabin floor and make an emergency langing to rescue an airport worker who had been accidentally trapped in the hold. The worker was taken to a hospital, but authorities maintain that it was merely a precaution and that he walked off the aircraft under his own steam. This may force airports to be more careful with takeoff and loading procedures for their baggage handlers.

    WSJ (sub)

  3. Blackwater Guards Get Long Prison Terms

    They gunned down 14 people. Four former security guards of private military contractor Blackwater were sentenced to prison for their part in the 2007 shooting deaths of unarmed Iraqis in Baghdad’s Nisour Square. One of the four received a life sentence for murder, and the other three received 30-year sentences on multiple charges including manslaughter. They maintain their innocence and say they were under fire from insurgents while securing a path for a U.S. diplomatic convoy, and they all plan to appeal.



  4. Moscow OK’s Missile Sales to Iran

    Putin may be angling to get a jump on business. Russia will allow the sale of a missile defense system to Iran, a move sure to irk the U.S. Russia had voluntarily suspended such a deal several years ago, amid concerns that the missiles could hide nuclear capabilities. The new U.N. agreement with Iran over nuclear production will hopefully be signed by the end of June, and sanctions lifted then, which could trigger a global push to do business with Iran. Russia might have just jump-started the rush.


  5. Tulsa Shooting Defies Explanation

    Two days before last week’s infamous South Carolina shooting video was made, the killing of another unarmed black man by authorities was recorded. This weekend officials in Tulsa, Okla., concluded that the 73-year-old “reserve deputy sheriff” who killed fleeing suspect Eric Courtney Harris and who’s now been changed with manslaughter suffered from a stress-induced condition that caused him to mistake a gun for a Taser. The incident is certain to raise questions about the use of such moonlighters, especially ones who’ve made $2,500 sheriff’s campaign contributions.

    Washington Post, LA Times


  6. German Writer Günter Grass Dies at Age 87

    He’s broken his final boundary. The Nobel Prize-winning poet and novelist died this morning in Lübeck, Germany, at age 87. The controversial writer of 1959’s The Tin Drum — who was suffering a lung infection — most recently sparked uproar in 2012 with a poem suggesting that Israel might one day launch a nuclear strike against Iran. He’s been labeled an anti-Semite, a radical leftist and even a moral compass. But he remained a critical thinker throughout, provoking debate on everything from Nazism to Kurdish rights. 

    DW, NYT

  7. Hillary Clinton Hits the Campaign Trail

    She wants to be a “champion” for average Americans. The former chief diplomat and first lady threw her hat in the 2016 presidential ring yesterday, striking a populist tone by saying that the “deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top.” Clinton — who has backing from donors and Obama but carries baggage — announced her bid online in a low-key fashion before hopping on a bus bound for Iowa, where she’ll hold her first campaign event on Tuesday. 

    APWashington Post

  8. Protests Demand Rousseff’s Impeachment

    Many don’t trust her. Tens of thousands took to the streets across Brazil yesterday to express frustration with high unemployment and alleged government corruption. Dozens of officials, including two of President Dilma Rousseff’s former chiefs of staff, have been implicated in a case involving $800 million worth of bribes in return for inflated contracts for the national oil company. Similar protests last month drew bigger numbers, but both suggest that Rousseff — with an approval rating of 13 percent just four months into her second term — has a tough, and perhaps short, road ahead.

    DW, NYT

  9. Jean-Marie Le Pen Withdraws Candidacy

    Blood is not thicker than scandal. The founder of France’s far-right National Front pulled out of regional elections today following a fight with his daughter, Marine, who heads the party. Dad’s reiteration last week of his opinion that Nazi gas chambers were simply a “detail of history” echoed the FN’s perceived anti-Semitic past, which Marine has been trying to shed. But Jean-Marie, 86, still wants to keep it in the family and is recommending that granddaughter Marion Marechal-Le Pen take his place.

    BBC, Reuters

  10. German Wages May Boost World Economy

    They’ve helped save Europe, so why not the world? Germans are getting a pay raise, which is expected to boost consumer spending and, in turn, eurozone trade. Berlin’s export-driven economy has long been viewed as bad for its struggling neighbors. But with Teutonic wages expected to rise 3.5 percent this year, spending may soar alongside imports to provide a smaller trade surplus. Some are still critical of the export-led strategy, but others believe upcoming changes will help remedy trade imbalances in Europe and eventually the world.

    WSJ (sub)


  1. IBM’s Watson Set to Release First Cookbook

    It might just put the AI in hollandaise. The Jeopardy-winning supercomputer has just whipped up a cookbook: Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson. Food experts fed the electronic brain data about chemical combinations and common food pairings, which it boiled down into recommendations. Some, like mixing mushrooms and strawberries, may seem odd. But Chef Watson can’t stir, grate or peel — at least not yet — so only you can decide whether the book, due to hit shelves on Tuesday, is a recipe for success.  

    Engadget, Quartz 

  2. First-Day Apple Watch Orders Near a Million

    Time really does fly. Apple’s new timepieces are flying off the digital shelves, with U.S. online buyers pre-ordering a reported 957,000 of the wearable computers last Friday, the first day of sales. Nearly two-thirds of those were the economical aluminum Sport version, which starts at $349. Other buyers plunked down an additional $200 or more to order a stainless-steel version. There’s no data yet on the $10,000+ “Edition” series, but we expect those figures to drop in no time.

    Forbes, Slice Intelligence

  3. Scientists Investigate Extinction Meteor

    You can tell a lot about someone by their scars, and the Earth is no exception. Scientists are planning an in-depth, $10 million study of Mexico’s Chicxulub crater, widely credited to have borne the brunt of a dinosaur-destroying meteor 65.5 million years ago. Thanks to new subsurface imaging, researchers have pinpointed where to drill and plan to dig down 5,000 feet in 2016 to retrieve a core sample. The findings should shed some light on the extinction event, its aftermath and the resurgence of life.


  4. ‘Game of Thrones’ Leaked to Torrent Sites

    Four episodes from the HBO drama’s fifth season were downloaded 1.7 million times ahead of its Sunday premiere — thanks to online leaks. The program’s no stranger to digital pillaging and was last year’s most-pirated show. But while some hope the leaks — reportedly linked to a screener given to reviewers — will provide revenue-generating buzz, others fear it’ll end up hurting profits. And the culprit has teased that more episodes may be on the way. 

    Variety, Mashable

  5. Jordan Spieth Easily Scores First Masters

    And he’s just warming up. Yesterday, the Dallas native sunk the Masters first wire-to-wire win — best score at the end of each round — since 1976. At 21, Spieth became the second-youngest after Tiger Woods to ever don the green jacket and tied Woods’ 1997 scoring record of 18-under 270. He called it the greatest day of his life but clearly has plans for a repeat, telling fans: “I want to be like Bubba [Watson]. I want to win two Masters!”

    ESPN, Daily Mail


  6. Barry Bonds Defends A-Rod’s Legacy

    He doesn’t get it. The record-holder with an asterisk after his name just thinks “everybody should be happy” for Yankee Alex Rodriguez, who’s on the verge of passing Willie Mays for fourth place on Major League Baseball’s all-time homer hit list. Bonds and Rodriguez both have records tainted by past use of illegal performance enhancers. The Yankees said they have no plans to honor A-Rod’s milestone — or the connected contractual bonus. Once he passes Mays, Rodriguez is expected to battle the team in court over the cash.

    USA Today

  7. Supplements Tied to Greater Cancer Risk

    It’s not worth the weight. A British Journal of Cancer study found that men who used bodybuilding supplements like creatine showed a 65 percent increased risk for testicular cancer. They were even more vulnerable to the cancer if they started taking the supplements before age 25, used a combination of pills and powders or kept using them for more than three years. The authors said future large epidemiologic studies would need to be established in order to conclusively tie supplement use to increases cases of the deadly disease.

    Brown University