Start your day smarter with a dossier on the most important world news, rounded off with a shot of intriguing and offbeat stories. Like the president, you deserve no less.
Jan 10, 2022
A fire in New York City has left 19 people dead, including nine children, in the city’s deadliest fire in 30 years. In Kazakhstan, internet service has been restored after days of violent protests rocked the country. The White House will try to pass new legislation this week focused on voting rights, despite a polarized government. And as tensions rise at the Russia-Ukraine border, the U.S. and NATO will attempt to avoid a military confrontation through extensive talks with the Kremlin this week. All this and more in today’s Presidential Daily Brief.
1 - Deadly Blaze in the Bronx
At least 19 die in a NYC apartment building, including nine children
A deadly fire caused by a malfunctioning space heater broke out on Sunday in a second-floor apartment of a 19-story building in the Bronx, New York’s northernmost borough, killing 19 people. The deaths were caused not by the flames but by cardiac and respiratory arrest due to a thick, inescapable smoke that traveled through the hallways, trapping people inside the 120-unit, 1970’s-era housing project. Around 200 firefighters put out the blaze and rescued more than five dozen residents. The fire is the deadliest in NYC in over 30 years. (Source: AP)
2 - Crisis in Kazakhstan
Violent anti-government protests may have claimed more than 164 lives
A five-day internet blackout has ended in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where at least 8,000 people have been detained and 44 confirmed dead, though the toll, as reported earlier, is said to be much higher. The demonstrations, which began on Jan. 2 over a drastic hike in fuel prices, quickly escalated into a nationwide protest and power struggle. Russian troops were called in Wednesday to help quell the violence at the request of Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who reportedly ordered security forces to “fire without warning” at protestors in Almaty, the country’s largest city. The move was condemned by the United States. (Source: BBC)
3 - Spending Stalled, on to Voting
The White House hopes for a Voting Rights Act win before MLK Day
With President Biden’s Build Back Better Bill stalled in the Senate, Democrats have set their sights on a legislative win by passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. Both President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris mentioned the bills in their speeches marking the anniversary of the January 6th insurrection, and they are both scheduled to speak on voting rights again in Georgia tomorrow in anticipation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Passing the bills will be a challenge, as the administration will need bipartisan support to clear the 60-vote legislative filibuster in a 50-50-split Senate. (Source: TheHill)
4 - A Tense Week Ahead
The U.S. and NATO aim to avert conflict in talks with Russia this week
The European Union and the U.S. hope to present a united front this week in talks with Russia aimed at de-escalating the situation in Ukraine. With more than 100,000 Russian troops massed at the Ukrainian border, the West is concerned that Putin could be planning an invasion similar to his annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. The U.S. has promised punishing sanctions should Russia invade, but has stopped short of threatening military action. Disagreement among the E.U.’s 27 member nations over whether the talks should be about confrontation or compromise have further complicated the talks. (Source: NBCNews)
5 - Briefly
Here are some things you should know about today:
Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi found guilty. The Nobel Peace Prize winner was sentenced to another four years in prison today for at least three additional charges that critics say are politically motivated. (Source: Aljazeera) Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson announces bid for a third term. The Republican senator previously stated that he would retire after this term, his second. (Source: ABCNews) At least 34 people rescued from a chunk of ice in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The ice floe broke off from the shore, setting dozens of people adrift on the lake. All were quickly rescued with no injuries. (Source: CNN)
Watch Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger
As He Discusses Voting Rights, Election Fraud + Trump’s ‘12K Vote’ Call
1 - Novak Djokovic Can Stay Down Under
The Serbian tennis starhas won his challenge to the Australian government
An Australian judge has overturned an earlier government ruling to deport reigning men’s tennis champion Novak Djokovic on Monday, ending a five-day standoff. Djokovic, who arrived in Melbourne last week to defend his Australian Open title, was detained over a vaccination exemption, in accordance with Australia’s strict travel policy that all incoming foreigners must be fully vaccinated. Though the new ruling may permit Djokovic to seek a record-breaking Grand Slam title, the Australian government warned it may cancel his visa a second time. The case sparked outrage in Australia, which is widely opposed to Djokovic’s exemption, and an international controversy. (Source:WaPo)
2 - A Taco a Day…
Taco Bell takes a page from Netflix in new subscription app service
Subscription-model businesses abound — what CEO can resist dependable revenues and loyal customers? Fast food chains have taken note. Taco Bell has announced its new Taco Lover’s Pass, which for $10 a month offers subscribers a taco a day. The more health-conscious Sweetgreen chain announced a similar deal, with a $10-a-month subscription giving customers a $3-per-order discount. Both services function via an app downloaded on customers’ smartphones and hope to benefit from increasing user frequency and subscribers ordering more items. Initial tests are hopeful: a Taco Bell in Tucson, Arizona, saw a 20% increase in new customers. (Source: Axios)
3 - Guantanamo Turns 20
The infamous prison received its first prisoner 20 years ago tomorrow
When President George W. Bush opened the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba in 2002 after the attacks of 9/11, who could foresee what it would come to stand for? Though former President Barack Obama released most of the prisoners at “Gitmo” and promised to close the prison after years of criticism over allegations of torture, mistreatment and holding prisoners without charges in the war against al-Qaida, he finally backed down after an uproar in Congress. Biden has promised to close the prison, but critics and human rights activists are frustrated at his sluggishness in taking action on the 39 remaining prisoners. (Source: AP)
4 - Chart-Smashing Songbirds
Birdsongs beat out Taylor Swift on Australian national charts
In December, when Adele and Ed Sheeran’s albums topped the charts, Songs of Disappearance, featuring calls from 53 of Australia’s endangered bird species, briefly made it all the way to No. 3 on the country’s top 50 albums, beating out Taylor Swift. Songs was produced by Anthony Albrecht, a musician and Ph.D. candidate at Charles Darwin University, in tandem with his Bowerbird Collective. Albrecht and his organization hope to raise awareness about the precariousness of these birds’ lives on the planet. All of the proceeds from the album will go to Birdlife Australia. (Source: NPR)
5 - Stop the Hunt
More fashion brands are pulling their goods from outside retailers
You may have noticed fewer gifts on the shelves of big box stores and even smaller retailers this Christmas. That’s because many major brands are cutting out the middleman in order to market directly to consumers. Nike, Adidas, Crocs, Ralph Lauren and Canada Goose are just a few of the brands adopting this strategy, which, when successful, creates high demand for a limited supply of goods. The shift, largely due to shuttered stores that pushed customers to purchase directly from brands online, has benefitted the companies. Some labels have even abandoned almighty Amazon: Nike stopped selling to the online giant in 2019. (Source: CNN)
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