The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. UN Seeks Action on North Korea Atrocities

    The Hermit Kingdom is finally getting called to the mat. A UN human rights committee has asked the Security Council to take action and send North Korea to the International Criminal Court. The move — the biggest international push to date — follows revelations in a February UN report about “unspeakable atrocities” under Kim Jong-un’s regime. The measure is expected to be vetoed by China, but Pyongyang still responded like a spoiled child, threatening to conduct more nuclear tests as payback.

    BBC, ABC

  2. U.S. Senate Rejects Keystone XL

    Every vote counts. Democrats have blocked a proposed expansion of the U.S.-Canadian oil pipeline by a margin of a single vote. This puts to rest — however briefly — a political struggle between Republicans arguing for job creation and environmentalists concerned about the project’s carbon emissions. President Obama, who’s been hesitant about the project, is likely to face a renewed push in January by a Republican-led Senate. But that doesn’t mean he’ll be reaching for his pen to sign it into law.

    BBC, NYT

  3. NBC, Netflix Nix Bill Cosby Programs

    The comedian’s comeback tour is dead on arrival. This week, the network dropped a sitcom deal with the actor, and the streaming service indefinitely postponed a stand-up comedy special called Bill Cosby 77. The cancelations come days after TV host Janice Dickinson added her name to a list of women stretching back decades who claim that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted them. Not helping his cause is a resurfaced comedy bit in which he mentions drugging women with Spanish fly. There’s no sign that the legacy-destroying allegations will stop anytime soon.

    NPR, NYT, USA Today

  4. NSA Bulk Data Collection Bill Loses

    Big Brother can still check you out. A bill that would have halted the NSA from collecting phone records of U.S. citizens who aren’t suspected of a crime has failed to advance in the Senate. This was probably the bill’s last chance, in its current form, as the GOP stands poised to take over the majority. The NSA justified the data dump as part of the Patriot Act. While some Republicans say the measure would have impeded the NSA’s work, Sen. Rand Paul said the bill didn’t go far enough.

    Politico, USAT


  5. Miss Honduras, Sister Found Dead

    She was to start competing for the Miss World crown in London on Thursday. Instead, Maria Jose Alvarado and her sister Sofia’s murdered bodies were found about 110 miles from the capital, Tegucigalpa. The pair hadn’t been seen since leaving a party last week. Two men have been arrested, one of whom police believe was the beauty queen’s boyfriend. No word yet from Miss World pageant organizers. With Honduras already suffering the world’s highest homicide rate, perhaps now the world will pay more attention. 

    BBC, Reuters

  6. U.S. Demands Nationwide Air Bag Recall 

    The Feds are losing their patience. U.S. safety regulators want to recall millions of vehicles equipped with driver’s-side air bags manufactured by Japanese supplier Takata Corp. The inflatables — found in vehicles from Ford, Honda, Chrysler, Mazda and BMW — have been linked to several deaths. Takata has been reluctant to take a regional recall national, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s chief, burnt by the debacle over GM ignition switches, says “we will make them do so.”

    NYT, USA Today, WSJ (sub)

  7. Hong Kong Activists Storm Legislature

    They tried getting to the heart of the problem. Overnight, a group of freedom demonstrators stormed the city’s Legislative Council building. Four young men were arrested, and Occupy Central — the pro-democracy advocacy movement — condemned the break-in, noting that protesters had been misled by rumors of looming talks on Internet freedom. Concerns are mounting over renewed violence, and some fear the incident will lead lawmakers to build a high fence around the LegCo complex, perhaps putting freedom even further from reach.

    DW, SCMP

  8. Obama to Reveal Immigration Plan, U.S. Gets Buried by the White Stuff

    President to announce executive action on immigration on Thursday. (AP)

    Immigrants likely won’t receive health care subsidies under president’s plan. (NYT)

    Man with rifle in car arrested outside of White House. (NYT)

    Snow, freezing temperatures descend across northern and eastern U.S. (USA Today)

    FAA wins right to regulate drones. (CNN)

    Israeli ministry official says country should go on offensive. (Jerusalem Post)

    Car bomb targets government building in Iraqi Kurdish city, Irbil. (BBC)

    Cuban doctor tests positive for Ebola in Sierra Leone. (DW)


  1. Police ‘Virgin Tests’ Under Fire in Indonesia

    Nobody wants a job this badly. Female police recruits in the 250-million strong Asian country are subjected to a “two-finger test” to see whether their hymens are intact. Some officials deny it happens, but interviews with female officers suggest the painful test — reportedly aimed at ensuring applicants don’t have sexually transmitted diseases — is still in use. The test is even listed as a requirement on the police recruitment website, despite the fact that Indonesia has signed international conventions classifying it as a human rights violation.

    NPR, The Guardian

  2. Cities Dominate the U.S. Recovery

    National data shows a recovering America, but parsing the digits shows the playing field remains unequal. Booming urban areas have recovered all of the jobs lost during the recession, and then some. But that leaves the less-urbanized areas struggling — many have fallen far short of even replacing the jobs lost. In the past, the rising economy lifted everyone. While some experts say it may be too soon to call a trend, the stats point to a stalling of fortune for those not tied to city life.

    Washington Post

  3. For Blind Argentinians, Soccer is Therapy 

    Seeing is not a prerequisite for playing the beautiful game. Dubbed The Bats — a necessary “bit of black humor” — Argentina’s blind national soccer team is chasing Olympic glory. Having won silver and bronze at the last two Paralympics, respectively, they’re eyeing gold for 2016. Using a ball with a rattle and constant positioning cries, Los Murcielagos have mastered the game — and life — with one less sense, so much so that their trainer wonders who is more disabled, “us or them?”


  4. VP’s Comments Were Uber Stupid

    The ride-sharing start-up’s senior vice president, Emil Michael, crashed spectacularly when he told dinner-party guests — including a journalist — that Uber should hire private eyes to embarrass reporters who dare criticize the company. CEO Travis Kalanick condemned the remarks but hasn’t shown Michael the door. And the $17-billion firm must now answer privacy activists’ concerns over how they collect, store and monitor personal data. But the real question is whether users will begin thumbing a ride elsewhere.

    BuzzfeedUSA TodayNYT

  5. Probe Finds Organic Molecules on Comet

    Ahhhh, the sweet smell of life. The Philae lander has sniffed out organic matter on Comet 67P. Carbon-rich organic molecules are the basis of life, so the discovery may provide compelling evidence that comets were the source of vital chemical ingredients that helped living organisms evolve on Earth. But the lander’s batteries need more than comet-based nutrients to live. For scientists to glean more results, they’ll need to wait for the comet to pass the sun so Philae’s solar panels can recharge.


  6. America Adores Horrible Movies

    The U.S. loves feasting on junk, especially when it comes to bad films. Despite horrendous reviews, Dumb and Dumber To — Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels’ 20-year reunion — topped the box office to the tune of $38.1 million last weekend. A review of the biggest-grossing movies reveals that more than half don’t score over 60 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, the “fresh” threshold that signals whether a film is worth watching. But bad movies are big business, and viewers vote with their dollars.

    Washington Post, CS Monitor

  7. NFL Suspends Adrian Peterson 

    Tough hits are for the field, not the home. That’s the message the Minnesota Vikings star got yesterday when the league suspended him without pay until next April. Peterson has been riding the bench since September — with pay — for allegedly hitting his four-year-old son with a switch. The running back, who pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge in court, plans to appeal the suspension. But some are beginning to question the league’s newly assumed role in doling out punishment.