The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. The Dow Tops 16,000 for the First Time

    A combination of stimulating Federal Reserve policies and solid corporate profits are being credited for pushing the U.S. market into new territory Monday. The S&P 500 toyed with 1,800, up more than 25 percent this year. Market watchers don’t think this is a bubble bound to pop, but they do predict a slower 2014. Historically, markets up more than a quarter one year notch less than 10-percent growth the next. But for now, it’s Christmas come early to Wall Street. 

    Sources: CNN, Wall Sreet Journal

  2. Russian Passenger Jet Crash Kills All 50 Aboard

    A Boeing 737 airliner crash-landed in Kazan, Russia, killing all 44 passengers and six crew members aboard. Tatarstan Airlines 363, en route from Moscow to Kazan, was on its second landing attempt when the plane’s nose hit the runway and the aircraft burst into flames. Investigators have not yet determined whether a technical malfunction, the windy weather conditions or human error is to blame. Listed among the dead was the son of the president of the oil-rich Russian Republic of Tatarstan.

    Sources: ABC News, BBC, Reuters

  3. Deadly Tornadoes Sweep Through the American Midwest

    Tornadoes and thunderstorms decimated parts of several Midwestern U.S. states, causing widespread damage and electrical outages across the region. The worst damage struck Illinois, where at least six are dead and dozens were injured. O’Hare International Airport in Chicago canceled more than 230 flights because of the weather. Perhaps the scariest near-miss also came in Chicago, where the NFL game between the Bears and Baltimore Ravens was delayed and the stands emptied of the 62,000 fans in attendance until the weather subsided.

    Sources: NYT, The Weather Channel

  4. Syria’s Bloody Weekend Sends More Refugees into Lebanon

    After a rebel bombing killed at least 31 Syrian soldiers in Damascus and retaliatory raids hit the border town of Qara, thousands of refugees sought safety by fleeing into neighboring Lebanon. More than 800,000 refugees have fled to Lebanon since the war began. The closest village in Lebanon, Arsal, has taken in an estimated 13,000 refugees, and strains with each new arrival. “We have placed them in mosques, wedding halls and in some host residencies, but we are running out of place,” a town official lamented.

    Sources: Al Jazeera, The Beirut Daily Star

  5. Soccer Hooligans and Neo-Nazis Join Forces in Germany

    Those who fear the rise of the radical right-wing party Golden Dawn in Greece should keep tabs on German soccer stadiums as well. German soccer hooliganism had been suppressed lately, thanks to the efforts of the police and the teams in the Bundesliga, Germany’s top league. But now, networks up to 30 years old are rebuilding and recombining with neo-Nazi groups, using hooligan clashes as an excuse to attack police, and conducting weapons trainings in remote locations.

    Source: Der Spiegel

  6. Mandela Loses His Voice, Musharraf to Face Treason Charges

    Nelson Mandela’s illness renders him unable to speak. (CNN).

    Deadly floods in Vietnam force 80,000 from their homes. (BBC).

    Former Pakistan President Musharraf to be charged with treason. (NYT).

    Sony sells more than one million PlayStation 4’s on the first day amid reports that Chinese workers may have sabotaged some consoles as a labor protest. (WSJ, DailyTech).

    Libya’s deputy intelligence chief kidnapped. (BBC).


  1. The Cheney Sisters’ Falling Out over Gay Rights Goes Very Public

    Liz Cheney wants to be a Wyoming senator, but recent comments on same-sex marriage have prompted her gay sister, Mary, to lash out — on Facebook. Mary’s wife, Heather Poe, has also joined in the fray, hitting her sister-in-law where it hurts — accusing her of moving from state to state, an issue in a campaign where Liz Cheney has worked to prove she’s not a carpetbagger. So far Dick Cheney, the former vice president and, more importantly for this story, Dad, has stayed mum. 

    Sources: NY Times, NBC

  2. Two Women Vie for President of Chile in a Runoff 

    Left-wing former President Michelle Bachelet finished Sunday’s first-round election ahead of her opponent, center-right candidate Evelyn Matthei, but shy of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff. It’s a captivating election, with two female front-runners who were childhood friends — and whose military fathers found themselves on opposite sides of Augusto Pinochet’s coup. The most important story is that the Dec. 15 runoff is a referendum on two very different visions for Chile, with Bachelet proposing radical economic reforms and the elimination of the country’s restrictive abortion law, and Matthei running a “stay the course” platform.  

    Sources: BBC, The Atlantic

  3. The Reclusive German Art Hoarder’s Odd Relationship With His Works

    For Cornelius Gurlitt, the 1,500 rare paintings and sketches his father had collected during the elder’s time as a Nazi-approved art dealer were more than treasures. They were Gurlitt’s world. Unpacking his favorites each evening, he thought of them as friends. Gurlitt, 80, reclusively guarded his hoard of Picassos, Chagalls and Gauguins. Police confiscated the works in an effort to determine their rightful owners. Now Gurlitt is plagued by nightmares and grief, seeing it as some Kafka-esque punishment. One of the art world’s strangest stories may become one of its saddest.

    Sources: Der Spiegel, NYT


  4. Irvine Welsh Returns To ‘Trainspotting’ To Help The Homeless

    “Trainspotting” author Irvine Welsh has revived one of his famous Scottish psychopath characters for a short story that will benefit the homeless during the holiday season. Begbie, a knife-wielding football hooligan best known for his portrayal by Robert Carlyle in the 1996 Danny Boyle film, returns in Welsh’s new story, “He Ain’t Lager.” The story runs in the The Big Issue, a UK magazine known for employing homeless people as sellers. Begbie’s return is expected to get eager readers out on the streets to buy a copy — and, hopefully, get Big Issue sellers in from the cold.

    Source: The Herald Scotland

  5. New York Hosts Big Names In 24-Hour Theater Festival

    Broadway’s hottest actors, directors and writers are prepping for the theatrical equivalent of an Ironman triathlon. Writers and directors like Theresa Rebeck and America Ferrera will band together to create six original short plays featuring actors like James McAvoy and Sasha Alexander. Proceeds from tonight’s 24 Hour Plays festival will go to the Urban Arts Partnership, a charity that provides arts education to disadvantaged New York City high school students — including alumnus and NYU sophomore Devin Mojica, who won a place in the competition as the sixth 24 Hour playwright.

    Sources: Indian Express, Broadway World

  6. Brazilian Soccer Players’ Protest Stirs World Cup Concerns

    Soccer players throughout Brazil recently staged a protest that could be the first of many — hardly good news for the host country of the 2014 World Cup. Players in every league, from the local to the national level, stood and crossed their arms before and after the opening whistle of their respective matches. A statement from an organization representing Brazilian soccer called for longer preseasons, fewer games and higher wages for professional players, and suggested that protests could get “drastic” in the future. The last World Cup, held in 2010 in South Africa, attracted 3.2 billion viewers — nearly half the world’s population.

    Sources: CNN, Washington Post