The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Millions Discover Real Obamacare Benefits Despite Major Questions

    A Wall Street analysis of the new health-care system found real benefits in the form of actual affordable care for people who couldn’t afford insurance before the new system. It’s a rare bit of good news for the administration, as continuing coverage reveals memos that expressed concern about the clearinghouse website three years ago and describe Democrats begging for a righted ship in time for the 2014 mid-term elections. 

    Sources: NY Times, CBS, Politico

  2. SAC Agrees to Massive Fine of More Than $1 Billion for Insider Trading

    The deal marks the first time in a generation that a large Wall Street firm has pleaded guilty in a criminal case, the New York Times notes. SAC Capital Investors will also have to shutter its financial advisory business. And the deal doesn’t preclude more criminal charges nor grant immunity to CEO Steve Cohen, whose net worth is estimated to be north of $9 billion. Eight former employees have already been charged, with six pleading guilty. Market watchers expect a big government deal with JPMorgan Chase later this week. Looks like the book hasn’t closed yet on the roaring ’00s.

    Sources: NY Times, CNN 

  3. U.S. Lawmakers Reject Clemency for Snowden

    Something both sides of the aisle can agree on in Washington: no deal for Edward Snowden. The former NSA contractor formally requested clemency from the American government in a letter delivered to the German government and published in a German news magazine, but Democratic and Republican congressional leaders as well as the White House rejected such a possibility. Meanwhile, momentum is building in Germany to offer Snowden asylum after revelations that the NSA tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone.

    Sources: NYT, BBC, The Guardian

  4. Surprise! Kerry Unexpectedly Visits Egypt on the Eve of the Morsi Trial

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Egypt for the first time since March on Sunday, urging the troubled nation’s military rulers to take substantive steps towards democracy and guarantee free and fair trials for all citizens. The latter was a not-so-veiled reference to former president Mohammed Morsi’s trial, which begins today and is already being criticized for its lack of fair procedure. The case opened, but was quickly adjourned until Jan. 8. The trial is expected to provoke mass civil unrest, and authorities have warned that they will crack down if any violence erupts as Morsi’s supporters take to the streets.

    Sources: Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC, The Guardian, NYT

  5. U.S. Wants Broad Divestitures From US Airways and American Airlines in Antitrust Case

    Any resolution to a U.S. Justice Department’s suit to block the $16.6 billion merger between American Airlines, owned by parent company AMR, and US Airways will require both airlines to divest assets like gate space and landing slots at key U.S. airports, sources close to the case say. The proposed merger would make the combined carrier the largest in the world by traffic, and would leave just four airlines controlling 80 percent of the U.S. flight market. The Justice Department’s suit alleges that the merger would harm consumers by reducing air service and increasing fares. Settlement talks are beginning as a trial date looms.

    Source: WSJ (sub), Bloomberg

  6. Muslim Refugees Fleeing Myanmar Clashes Attempt Deadly Escape

    Only eight survivors have been found after a boat full of about 70 Rohingya refugees sank in the Bay of Bengal on its way to Bangladesh. Sectarian clashes have displaced 250,000 people in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar in the last 18 months, and the U.N. warns that boatloads of Muslim refugees appear to have become part of an annual trend that begins in November, when seas begin to calm. As many as 1,500 began the dangerous and often deadly voyage in the last week alone, a U.N. spokesman said.

    Sources: South China Morning Post, BBC, Al Jazeera



  1. BlackBerry Deal Falls Apart, Sends Stock Spiraling

    The troubled telecom company suffers another blow as Fairfax Financial Holdings decides not to continue with a $4.7 billion takeover. The BlackBerry CEO will step down, and the company now hopes to raise some $1 billion through the sale of convertible notes to investors. With share prices having sunk to close to $6, the future of this once ubiquitous firm returns, once again, to shaky ground. 

    Sources: Wall Street Journal, Globe and Mail

  2. Huge Secret Stash of Art Condemned by Nazis Found in Munich Apartment

    Possibly the largest collection of art confiscated by the Nazis has resurfaced, valued at more than $1.3 billion. More than 1,500 works — including pieces by Matisse, Picasso and Chagall — had languished for years in the darkened rooms of a trash-filled Munich apartment owned by a reclusive art collector’s 80-year-old son. The Nazis labeled many of the works “degenerate” and had stolen the pieces or forced their Jewish owners to part with the paintings for next to nothing. The discovery has shaken the art world, and could provide a tax windfall once the heirs of the works’ rightful owners are tracked down.

    Source: BBC, FT (reg)

  3. Employees Dish the Dirt on Working at Google

    Some current and former Google employees have provided juicy tidbits on what it’s like working for the “best company in the world” on the question-and-answer site Quora. Sure the money, prestige and culture are great, but everyone is overqualified and middle management is as mediocre as anywhere else, apparently. What’s worse, such a big machine makes it tough for even the best to make their mark, let alone launch a personal initiative. But then again, who wouldn’t want to take a coffee break in one of these company hammocks?

    Sources: Quora, Business Insider

  4. World’s Beard and Moustache Champions Win By a Hair

    More than 300 hirsute contestants from 20 countries descended upon tiny Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany, for the World Beard and Moustache championships this past weekend. Whether you’re a first-time Movember participant or an old pro looking to “take [your] beard globally,” as one contestant put it, there’s plenty of inspiration among the carefully-quaffed entrants. Competitive categories included Best Dali Moustache, Most Fashionable Beard and Best Sideburns. The contest has run semi-annually since 1990, and we’re thinking the Boston Red Sox missed out on the perfect World Series victory lap.

    Source: The Telegraph

  5. YouTube’s First Awards Show Goes Off With All the Intended Hitches

    Co-host Jason Schwartzman promised there would be no script but plenty of surprises at the first ever YouTube Music Awards last night. And the rather untidy awards show, streamed live on YouTube and “directed” by Spike Jonze, delivered. The show was designed as a grab bag of “live music videos,” loosely-planned comedy skits and unscripted ambushes of hosts Schwartzman and Reggie Watts (such as having actress Rashida Jones hand them two babies). Perhaps the most refreshing aspect: at just 90 minutes, it may have been the first awards show in history to run short.

    Source: NYT

  6. Record-Setting Japanese Pitcher Loses Streak But Secures Title

    If you thought the Texas Rangers paid a hefty sum to land Yu Darvish two years ago, just wait until Masahiro Tanaka, 25, goes on the MLB market (likely this off-season). The Japanese right-hander and Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles ace went 24-0 this season with a 1.24 E.R.A. and won a record 30 consecutive decisions before he lost Game 6 of the Japan Series to the Yomimuri Giants. He then picked up the ball in relief in yesterday’s Game 7 and tossed a scoreless ninth to secure the championship for his Golden Eagles.

    Sources: NYT,