The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. U.S. Debates Drone Strike on American in Pakistan

    Drones could be used to target a U.S. citizen with suspected links to Al-Qaeda if the White House gives the green light. The unidentified suspect, who is based in Pakistan, would be the first U.S. target since Obama tightened drone policy last May. The rules specify that citizens cannot be added to kill lists without the case being referred to the U.S. Justice Department. Targeting Americans is a politically sensitive issue, but a White House spokesperson said citizenship would not shield Americans who threaten their country. 

    Sources: WSJ (sub), NYT

  2. Holland Ties Canada, White Hits the Half-Pipe and Women Ski-Jumpers Debut 

    Canada may be 240 times the size of the Netherlands, but the two are tied for gold medals in Sochi. On day three, the Dutch scored a clean sweep in the men’s 500m speed skating, with twins Michel and Ronald Mulder claiming gold and bronze. Canadians Alex Bilodeau and Mikael Kingsbury scored big in men’s moguls with gold and silver. The U.S. is trailing in fifth place but claimed a stomping 9-0 win against Switzerland in women’s hockey. Today, the spotlight turns to snowboarding legend Shaun White and to female ski-jumpers taking to the Olympic stage for the first time.

    Sources: Bleacher ReportThe GuardianThe Star

  3. Obama and Hollande Hit It Off but Washington Doubts Remain

    Presidents Hollande and Obama penned an op-ed for the Washington Post yesterday celebrating their countries’ friendship. The move signals Obama’s willingness to improve relations with France at the start of Hollande’s visit to the capital. But unlike former French state visits, Hollande has not been invited to address Congress, which may reflect Washington’s distrust over France’s interventions in Africa and stance on Iran. Social secretaries aren’t too thrilled either: they had to tear up dinner invitations printed before Hollande’s scandalous separation from his partner.

    Sources: The GuardianWashington PostDW

  4. CAR’s Escalating Violence Leads to Calls for Further Intervention

    Hopes that the year-long conflict in the Central African Republic might end soon have been dashed with the UN saying more troops may be needed. The coup that kick-started the sectarian violence came mostly from Muslim rebels, but the rising tide of violence is being driven primarily by Christian militias. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked French officials whether more troop deployments might be possible. Human Rights Watch warns that CAR’s Muslim population may be forced to flee the spate of reprisal killings. 

    Sources: BBCReutersWashington Post

  5.  Algerian Plane Crash Claims 100+ Lives

    A cargo plane went down in eastern Algeria on Tuesday, reportedly killing all 103 passengers on board. The victims are believed to have been military members and their families, but the army has not yet provided official confirmation. Bad weather and high winds were likely to have caused the crash, which occurred in a mountainous region about 240 miles from the capital of Algiers.

    Sources: Reuters, BBC


  1. Actress Shirley Temples Dies at Age 85

    Hollywood star Shirley Temple has died at age 85, according to her family. Temple first found fame at the age of 3 and went on to be a beloved movie star throughout the 1930s. Long remembered as one of Hollywood’s most popular child stars ever, Temple’s film career took a backseat to her political ambitions in adulthood. She unsuccessfully ran for Congress in California and was subsequently appointed ambassador to Ghana in 1974. Her family said she died of natural causes at her California home on Monday.

    Sources: BBC, Reuters

  2. Academia Tackles Paranormal Activity

    The hyper-sensitive may already know this, but the University of Virginia has a paranormal activities lab. At the Division of Perceptual Studies, part of the college’s medical school, areas of study include poltergeists, out-of-body experiences and reincarnation. This isn’t as hokey as it sounds: UVA’s research tackles unexplained phenomena — like children with memories of past lives — with legitimate science. Their findings may help explain not only the afterlife, but also the psychology behind phobias, personality traits and obsessions. 

    Source: The Atlantic

  3. Kenyan Mockumentary Pokes Fun at Charity Sector

    Kenya’s first mockumentary, The Samaritans, is set in an NGO that does nothing. The program, inspired by The Office, centers on an American with a “savior” complex who has been appointed country director. Its producers hope the comedy will spark a debate about the notorious bureaucracy and inefficiency of some charities. The show’s director recounts true stories of NGO staff sitting around “eating lobster bisque and discussing how to reduce poverty,” and of a charity that auctioned a rhino-hunting trip to raise money for endangered rhinos. With material like that, the gags must write themselves. 

    Source: Africa is a Country

  4. Instagram Snaps Up Fashion Week Highlights

    Inventive Instagram is positioning itself as the go-to app for New York Fashion Week. The Facebook-owned network is working with Vogue to create polished Instagram-exclusive content, facilitating an ‘Instameet’ with Lucky magazine editor, Eva Chen, and showcasing fashionistas’ snaps on a giant screen in Lincoln Center. Stylishly creative in its own right, Instagram has become, according to Vogue’s digital creative director, “the new morning coffee” of the fashion community. 

    Source: WSJ (sub)

  5. Passion For TV Bridges Digital Divide

    Mapping human interaction online is tricky. But new research from the U.K. of Facebook realtime data reveals a lot about how we watch TV in the digital age. The study found of all TV-related discussions taking place on mobile devices, 60 per cent happened as shows were actually airing. Some 2.5 million people in the U.S., for example, chatted through the final scene of Breaking Bad. The implications for TV advertising and Facebook are huge. Could this be a chance for Mark Zuckerberg to make even more money?

    Source: Wired