The Presidential Daily Brief

important

  1. Taliban Attack Kills Scores of Students 

    The victims were teachers and schoolchildren. At least 140 died at the Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar, Pakistan, killed by at least six attackers who scaled school walls around 10 a.m. local time with IEDs and guns, methodically executing children and setting fire to some teachers, according to witnesses. The Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility for one of the deadliest Taliban attacks ever, calling it retaliation for a major military offensive against militants in the North Waziristan tribal area. In response to the massacre, Pakistan launched massive air strikes in the same remote border region.

    NYT, The Guardian

  2. U.S. Appoints New Surgeon General 

    Vivek Murthy’s an Ivy League-educated physician and, at 37, the youngest person to hold the post. He also believes that gun safety is a national health crisis, and has advocated for tighter restrictions. He’s not a favorite of the powerful NRA lobby, to put it mildly. Which is partly why the Senate took more than 16 months to confirm him. Other federal nominations are expected to pass shortly, including some judicial posts, before the Democrats hand Senate control to the Republicans in the New Year.

    Washington Post, Quartz

  3. Ex-Marine Found Dead After Massacre

    The search for former Marine Sgt. Bradley Stone, the Iraq veteran suspected of Monday’s murder rampage near Philadelphia, ended today with the discovery of his body in the woods near his home, police said. Stone and his ex-wife were involved in a heated custody battle, which Stone allegedly resolved by fatally shooting her — along with her mother, grandmother, sister, brother-in-law, and 14-year-old niece. A 17-year-old nephew was wounded. Stone also allegedly kidnapped his two toddler daughters but left them before fleeing.

    Philly.com, NBC News

  4. Iran’s President Urges Nuke Deal

    Facing opposition at home, Hassan Rouhani is still promoting a deal to curb his nation’s nuclear program and lift longstanding sanctions — and, he believes, the hearts of his countrymen. But confidence is waning: A five-year, 300-percent rally in Iranian stocks is sliding backwards as both settlement hopes and oil prices decline. Iranian and Western negotiators are meeting again Wednesday after last month’s deadline extension, but, as one analysis put it, the more time passes, “the voices of skeptics get louder.”

    Reuters, Bloomberg

  5. Sydney Terror Another ‘Lone Wolf’ Incident

    The hostage standoff by Iranian immigrant Man Haron Monis is but the latest example of a disturbing trend. Perpetrators of recent shootings in Canada and a hatchet attack in New York were also self-radicalized loners, unbalanced and unaffiliated with terror groups. Monis had a history of violence, and a criminal record. Australian authorities could have kept him locked up — but, as one analyst put it, “There are thousands of guys like this. What do you do? Put a policeman on every one?”

    NYT, NBC

  6. China’s Manufacturing Sector Shrinks

    The tiger needs a break. Preliminary figures released today show that Chinese factory activity hit a seven-month low in December, another signal that the world’s second-largest economy is contracting. While still impressive by global standards, China’s GDP growth receded to 7.3 percent in the third quarter, its slowest pace in five years. But the country’s official stats are notoriously squishy. Exhibit A: The government plans to elevate its GDP estimate by up to 10 percent, based on an “economic census.” This cat can change its stripes.

    Bloomberg, WSJ (sub), Quartz

intriguing

  1. Denmark First to Claim Top of the World

    After Russia’s annexation of Crimea, there’s a new player in the territorial hegemony game. It’s not a superpower, but tiny Denmark that has called dibs on the North Pole and its coveted mineral riches. In a formal claim presented to the United Nations, the Nordic state of 5.6 million explains that Greenland, a Danish possession, is connected to the underwater Lomonosov Ridge that runs by the pole. Thus, the pole is Danish. Russia, Canada, Norway and the U.S. — it’s your move.

    FT (sub)

  2. Another Death on the Path to Extinction

    Only five northern white rhinos remain. The last breeding male, Angalifu, died at 44 of old age in the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Poaching has ravaged the species’ population, shrinking it from over 2,000 in the 1960s to fewer than 20 by the 1980s, when rhino horn was more lucrative than drugs. None remain in the wild, and attempts at breeding in captivity have failed, so it seems the world can only watch as these animals disappear for good.

    LA Times, Washington Post

  3. Press Punked by High School ‘Stock Whiz’

    Talk about rich. Mohammed Islam, 17, became a media hit after New York magazine, and then the New York Post, did stories on how he’d made $72 million investing in the stock market “on his lunch breaks” at Manhattan’s Stuyvesant High School. But now he’s spilled to the New York Observer that his return-on-investment was actually zero. Along with Rolling Stone’s dubious campus-rape exposé, the teen-trader story illustrates how journalism is impoverished by greed for a good yarn.

    CNN Money

  4. Interstellar Blasts Off on Big Screens

    Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar has netted more than $100 million worldwide from Imax viewings alone, contributing substantially to its $621 million total revenue since the film’s Nov. 5 release. The success allows it to join Gravity, Avatar and The Dark Knight Rises in the $100-million Imax club. Though the space epic was snubbed by the Golden Globes and didn’t get much love from the SAG Awards, it made the American Film Institute’s best-movies list, often considered a bellwether of Oscar success.

    Hollywood Reporter, The Guardian

  5. Union Sues NFL Over Peterson Suspension

    The NFL Players Association has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, challenging his indefinite suspension for domestic violence. The NFLPA argues that the penalty — and an arbitrator’s decision to uphold it — were biased, unfair and in violation of the collective bargaining agreement. The lawsuit also cites a recording of an NFL exec telling Peterson he’d be reinstated after two games, a promise the union says should have been honored. Maybe Peterson won’t be hanging up his cleats after all.

    ESPN