The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. ISIS Claims Responsibility, Authorities Tracked Gunman

    They suspected he was dangerous. Elton Simpson, one of the gunmen who opened fire Sunday at an anti-Islam event in Texas — an attack ISIS claims responsibility for — was on the FBI’s radar since 2006. He was arrested in 2010 for trying to join jihadists in Somalia, but was only convicted of lying to agents. Authorities shot and killed Simpson and his fellow attacker, Nadir Soofi, and they’re now scouring the gunmen’s electronic communications to determine whether they were really in touch with foreign militants.

    Reuters, BBC

  2. Video Shows Immigrants Clinging to Boat

    The numbers are staggering — in three days some 7,000 people trying to flee North Africa by sea have been rescued, says the Italian coastguard. Video has surfaced showing people desperately clinging to a ship in the Mediterranean. This weekend’s calm weather likely spurred many to risk crossing seas to Europe, as hundred more were pulled out of the Aegean Sea, most of them fleeing the fighting in Syria. “Several dozen” lost their lives in the attempts, even as European naval chiefs have scheduled talks in Naples.

    BBC, AP

  3. Report Cites Atrocities in Aleppo’s ‘Circle of Hell’

    War crimes are being committed there every day. That’s the news from Amnesty International, which has just issued a report highlighting systematic and “unthinkable atrocities” against Syrians — by both the government and rebels. Assad’s regime was singled out for “crimes against humanity” over its use of barrel bombs deliberately targeting civilian hubs like markets, mosques and hospitals. The international organization is pushing for countries to apply global pressure for a combat freeze, but with past efforts leading nowhere, there remains little hope of relief.

    BBC, Amnesty International

  4. Nepal Faces Disease, New Quake Hits Pacific

    It’s just getting worse. Without clean water or adequate sanitation, survivors of the April 25 earthquake that killed some 7,000 in Nepal are likely to face deadly outbreaks of cholera, dysentery and other water-borne diseases. To try to prevent this, aid workers are dispatching water trucks and setting up toilets in makeshift camps, but they warn that fixing the infrastructure will take time. Meanwhile, a 7.5-magnitude temblor and small tsunami struck today off Papua New Guinea, where authorities are assessing the damage.

    BBC, AP

  5. China’s Migrant Boom Peters Out

    This is going to slow things even more. The Chinese economy, already plagued by dwindling growth, is seeing its labor force shrink thanks to the end of 30 years of inexpensive rural workers flocking to its cities. Many believe China’s “Lewis Turning Point” — the stage where a country runs out of cheap, seemingly inexhaustible country labor — has arrived. Beijing is being urged to adopt financial reforms to bridge the gap, which economists fear will lead to even slower growth and reduced investment.

    FT (sub)


  1. Selfie-Takers Break Hercules Statue

    Guess he wasn’t so strong after all. Two careless tourists tried to get a picture of themselves in Cremona, Italy, by climbing a priceless 315-year-old monument to the Greek hero. In their quest for the perfect memento, they snapped off the statue’s crown, shattering it on the floor, in what has become the latest example of tourist-related desecrations. Damage to the landmark — a symbol of the city — is being assessed, and police have identified the perpetrators, who may face charges.

    NYPost, Independent

  2. Fans Sue Pacquiao Over Injury

    He probably should have mentioned this. Following his defeat by Floyd Mayweather in their high profile fight over the weekend, fans have filed a class-action suit against the Filipino boxer and his manager, who they say knew of the injury and didn’t disclose it to the ticket-buying public. Though one attorney for the defense says the $5 million lawsuit is “frivolous” because Pacquiao disclosed his shoulder issues to the USADA, a mischecked box on a form could earn the boxer a suspension or a fine.

    ESPN, Bleacher Report

  3. Crowns, Capes and Skin Are Gala Hits

    If Anna Wintour ran the Oscars, it would be all red carpet and no awards. That’s the Met Gala, which this year ran into some controversy with its theme of “China: Through the Looking Glass,” which reflects one of the Met’s current exhibits — and which riled some fashionistas who were concerned about inherent Orientalism. Some, like Beyonce, simply ignored the theme, while Rihanna was lauded for her yellow dress by Guo Pei, one of China’s premier designers, who could see increased U.S. visibility after RiRi’s stunning entrance.  

    Vanity Fair, Refinery29

  4. Onion Skin Used to Create Artificial Muscle

    You don’t even have to eat your vegetables for them to make you stronger. A Taiwanese research team is working on artificial muscles made from gold-plated cells from the skin of an onion — early trials show that they contract while remaining soft and bendy, a key factor of artificial muscle development. If they can lower the necessary voltage and solve a few other bugs — the next step is warding off moisture with a thin coating of flouride — they could revolutionize the soft underbelly of robotics.

    The Verge, Smithsonian

  5. Bird Flu Emergency Deepens in Midwest

    The H5N2 bird flu virus is soaring in America. Three U.S. states — Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa — have declared emergencies following the deaths of 21 million domesticated fowl since December. Authorities are struggling to pinpoint how it’s spreading on commercial farms with strict biosecurity measures. They say the risk to humans remains low, and they’ve ruled out the usual suspects like transport trucks, but some say it’s time to look at wild bird populations in a bid to clip the disease’s wings.

    TechTimes, Vice

  6. Facebook Frees Up Affordable Access Platform

    The social networking giant is opening up to outside developers. A partnership between Mark Zuckerberg’s brainchild and seven major mobile carriers, the initiative is meant to serve as a bridge to an estimated eight million people in 14 developing countries. Free access had been limited to services like Wikipedia and the BBC, and the site drew fire for making other providers pay. But Facebook has responded, and while it still plans to track user data, net neutrality proponents are hailing it a victory.

    CNetFast Company

  7. Sequel Brings ‘Buena Vista Social Club’ Home

    They’re making a comeback. The 1999 film about a group of Cuban musicians captured the world’s imagination — and an Oscar nomination for best documentary. The follow-up, Buena Vista Social Club — Adios,  will be helmed by Lucy Walker rather than original director Wim Wenders and comes after the release of the group’s recent album, Lost and Found. Filming begins this summer, looking back at the musicians’ professional lives over the past 16 years while highlighting their homecoming concert tour in Havana.

    Rolling Stone

  8. Stephen Curry Handily Wins MVP Title

    It wasn’t even close. The sharp-shooting Golden State Warriors star dominated the ballots for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, winning 100 of 130 first-place votes, and leaving Rockets guard James Harden in the dust. The lopsided performance was in line with Curry and his team’s performance this year, as they easily captured the league’s best record. Curry adds the MVP to his team’s club-record 67 wins, but he still faces the challenge of bringing home the biggest prize: a championship.

    ESPNBleacher Report