The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Benghazi Could Have Been Prevented, Senators Say

    There’s plenty of blame to go around in a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the deadly embassy attack that cost a U.S. ambassador’s life 16 months ago. The State Department should have headed warnings, the report says. But U.S. intelligence also failed to do its job in predicted potential unrest, and afterward, confused policymakers, and the public, in one of the most politically divisive issues of the year. 

    Sources: CNN, NYT

  2. U.S. Congress Unveils $1 Trillion Budget Deal

    Border security wins while Homeland Security loses overall, and disabled veterans regain a cost-of-living adjustment, but funding for high-speed rail projects is out — these are some of the adjustments in the congressional $1.012 trillion spending bill. Notably, it sets aside $1.3 billion for Egypt, pending a referendum on the nation’s new constitution. Another $1.3 billion is designated for Syrian aid relief, a humanitarian gesture Obama didn’t request. The 1,582-page bipartisan bill should keep the U.S. rolling through September, but legislators in both the House and Senate must still approve it, which is expected by the end of the week.

    Sources: WaPo, CNN, NYTNPR

  3. U.S. Appeals Court Strikes Down FCC Net Neutrality Rules

    A federal appeals court in the District of Columbia struck down the FCC’s “open Internet” regulations that stipulated broadband providers could not favor certain sites or charge sites responsible for heavy traffic additional fees. The erstwhile rules required equal treatment on the Internet, and the ruling forces the FCC to rework its broadband management framework. The ruling could have significant implications for sites like YouTube and Netflix, which may face new fees from providers like Comcast and Verizon to account for their heavy traffic. Increased costs will likely compel such sites to pass those expenses on to customers.

    Sources: WSJ (sub), Politico

  4. Besieged Governor Gives Defiant State of the State Address

    Addressing the accusations plaguing his administration, N.J. Gov. Chris Christie pledged to cooperate with authorities investigating his office for improper conduct. A clear contender for the 2016 Republican nomination, Christie’s office is under investigation for two separate incidents. Christie’s initial headache over allegations that an aide orchestrated traffic chaos over a petty political dispute has been compounded by a federal inquiry into possible misuse of funds intended for Sandy reconstruction. In his address, Christie stuck to his economic record, but time will tell if he can weather this storm and remain a contender.

    Sources: CNN, NYT

  5. Indian Boxing Champ Launches App For Women’s Self-Defense

    Indian Olympic boxing medalist and world champion Mary Kom has launched a mobile app to hit back at abusers. With street crime a controversial issue in India after the 2012 gang rape and murder of a female student in Delhi, and a rash of similar crimes and allegations, Kom is pulling no punches. Her app gives women self-defense tips and includes helpline numbers for women who have been attacked. Dangerously few Indian women have basic self-defense skills, Kom says. She also hopes to launch India’s first all-female fight club later this year.

    Sources: CBCWired


  1. U.S. Embarks On First-Ever Tourism Campaign

    Brand USA is America’s first national tourism campaign, and it aims to attract international tourists put off by the country’s negative post-9/11 image. America’s share of global tourists has fallen by 30 percent since 2000. The new ad campaign, called “Discover America, Land of Dreams,” features Roseanne Cash’s ”Land of Dreams” song with lush images of Americana in a bid to attract 100 million international tourists annually by 2021. Thanks to disenchantment over everything from NSA spying to onerous border security, America will probably need more than a catchy slogan to usher more customers through the turnstiles.

    Source: The Atlantic

  2. When Leading Politicians Exchange Gifts, the World Watches

    This week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gave an unlikely gift to Sergei Lavrov, his Russian counterpart, when he handed him two Idaho potatoes. Kerry the spuds were meant to symbolize friendship before Syrian peace negotiations start later this month. The weirdest diplomatic gesture ever? Hardly — the history of political gift-giving can be bizarre. Vladimir Putin once received three dogs and a tiger, Francois Hollande a camel (which he donated to a needy family, who promptly ate the animal), and Barack Obama a basketball signed by China’s president Xi Jinping.

    Sources: NPR, BBC

  3. New Web for Robots Signals Giant Leap for AI

    A new cloud-based Internet is being developed that allows robots to learn from one another, cuing terrifying visions of cyborg invasions, Terminator style. In reality though, RoboEarth, an EU-funded project, will act as a “Wikipedia for robots,” allowing robots to upload, store and share information about objects and actions in a way that will build on their individual skillset and increase their functionality. A trial taskforce of four robots is set to collaborate using RoboEarth this week in a mock hospital ward.

    Sources: BBC, Wired

  4. Television Looks Increasingly Diverse in 2014

    In 2013, we saw some great steps for racial and sexual diversity on TV, with Orange Is The New Black breaking barriers and bisexuality being better represented than ever before. But TV has a long way to go before a variety of ethnicities, sexualities, and genders have their fair viewing time. The good news? 2014 is looking up. Since the start of the year, SNL has specially auditioned black female comedians, HBO’s newest offering, Looking, spotlights gay men in San Francisco, and Girls is taking a stab at racial diversity. 2014 may give televised representation a chance after all.

    Source: The Atlantic

  5. Australian Open Branded ’Inhumane’ After Extreme Heat

    Canadian tennis player Frank Dancevic called the Open “inhumane” after players were forced to compete in temperatures as high as 108 degrees Fahrenheit. British champion Andy Murray suggested the decision to play could damage the reputation of the event: “It doesn’t look good for the sport when people are collapsing.” Conditions were so extreme that former women’s number one Caroline Wozniacki’s plastic water bottle began melting on court. With the controversy so early in the tournament, organizers will have to step up efforts to cool criticism and ensure the safety of their athletes.

    Source: The Guardian