The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. JPMorgan Agrees to $13 Billion Settlement Over Bad Mortgages

    JPMorgan Chase will settle claims over troubled mortgages, following negotiations between CEO Jamie Dimon and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. The banking giant now owes the largest sum ever by a company to the U.S. government. Some of the money will help new homebuyers, bail out struggling homeowners and compensate the federal body that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Other payments will go to the Justice Department and state attorneys general, who have made it clear that the era of occasional wrist slaps is over. Criminal prosecutions remain a possibility.

    Sources: NYT, NPR

  2. Venezuelan President Fights Corruption By Giving Himself More Power

    If absolute power corrupts absolutely, then Venezuela could be in big trouble with a new anti-corruption strategy that further consolidates President Nicolas Maduro’s power. The National Assembly voted Tuesday to give Maduro the power to rule by decree, which he claimed was necessary to stamp out the corruption he sees as the source of Venezuela’s economic woes. The country has skyrocketing inflation and widespread shortages of staple goods, but it’s unclear that Maduro’s newfound authority will help. The move seems more likely to serve Maduro’s interests than those of his citizens.

    Sources: Al Jazeera, WSJ (sub)

  3. Johnson & Johnson Resolve Hip Replacement Lawsuits With $2.5 Billion Settlement

    JPMorgan isn’t the only company with big court woes — Johnson & Johnson also settled thousands of U.S. lawsuits over hip replacements that allegedly caused injury and required additional surgeries. The settlement provides roughly $250,000 per patient and comes on the heels of a deal with federal prosecutors to pay a $2.2 billion fine and plead guilty to a misdemeanor for the marketing of the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal. Still in the legal pipeline: more litigation over hip replacements for patients outside the U.S. and more than 20,000 lawsuits related to its surgical-mesh implants intended to aid women after childbirth.

    Source: USA Today, WSJ (sub)

  4. Kerry Tries One Last Time For a Security Deal With Afghanistan

    John Kerry’s new bargaining chip with Afghanistan: humility. The latest, and potentially last, tactic from the U.S. Secretary of State in negotiations over a continued U.S. troop presence in the country is to send a letter from President Obama to Afghan elders admitting mistakes made by the U.S. So far, no deal, and if one fails to emerge the U.S. will withdraw all of its troops, as it did in Iraq. Negotiations are tense, especially given the U.S.’s current bristling over Afghan demands to bar American forces from entering Afghan homes.

    Source: BBC

  5. U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Texas Abortion Law, Butterball Warns of Turkey Shortage

    Missouri executes white supremacist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin. (NYT). 

    U.S. Supreme Court refuses to block Texas abortion law. (NYT).

    Nokia shareholders approve sale of cell phone business to Microsoft for $7.4 billion. (Reuters).

    Florida freshman GOP lawmaker busted in cocaine sting. (Washington Post).

    Are the U.S. and Butterball facing a Thanksgiving turkey shortage? (The Week).

    Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine is People’s Sexiest Man Alive. (USA Today).


  1. Study Finds Today’s Kids Put the ‘F’ in Fitness

    Grandpa may have been right, his generation may have been tougher. New research has found that kids today are 15 percent less fit their parents. They need a minute and a half longer, on average, to run a mile then the previous generation did as kids. And it’s not just a U.S. thing, but worldwide. Experts urge an hour of exercise a day for kids. Or maybe they just need to get outside and build crazy Rube Goldberg machines, like the girls in one viral video did (with skateboards and roller skates, we’d note). 

    Sources: CBS, Business Insider

  2. Young and Minority Voters Face Big Obstacles at the Polls

    Millennials, Latinos and African-Americans faced greater barriers at the polls than older white voters during the 2012 U.S. elections, according to a new report. These groups are most likely to vote early, and were impacted by the restriction of early voting in the swing states of Florida and Virginia. Young voters also spent a disproportionate amount of time waiting in line to vote. African-American and Latino voters were more likely to be asked for ID at voting stations, but are statistically less likely to own any form of government ID. According to the report, such obstacles are also likely to dampen turnout among these same groups in 2016.

    Source: Mother Jones

  3. Follow-Up to Frank Capra Holiday Classic Planned for 2015

    After more than 65 years, Frank Capra’s 1946 classic ”It’s a Wonderful Life” is about to get a sequel. The film will feature original cast member Karolyn Grimes reprising her role as George Bailey’s daughter Zuzu. The sequel’s plot — unlike Saturday Night Live’s famous “lost ending” in which Dana Carvey leads an angry mob to beat the curmudgeonly Mr. Potter senseless — will center on Bailey’s scrooge-like grandson and weave in themes from both the original film and Charles Dickens’ ”A Christmas Carol.”  It seems that in Tinseltown at least, every time a bell rings (or a copyright expires), a sequel gets its wings.

    Sources: Hollywood Reporter, The Guardian

  4. Walmart Under Fire Over Food Donations for Workers

    In a ham-handed attempt at philanthropy, an Ohio Walmart set up a Thanksgiving food drive for its own staff. A spokesperson said the effort demonstrated Walmart people caring for one another. Opponents who have long criticized the company for its wage policies consider it proof that Walmart associates are struggling, despite working for the country’s largest retailer. What’s more, the gesture seems to confirm that the company’s managers know it. A day of action for Walmart workers has already been planned for Black Friday. This latest gaffe may be a powerful weapon in their arsenal.

    Sources: USA Today, The Atlantic,

  5. Monty Python to Reunite for New Stage Show

    No, this isn’t spam: all living members of the groundbreaking comedy group Monty Python will be reuniting for a new stage show. The group that brought you ”Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” ”Life of Brian,” “The Lumberjack Song” and “The Spanish Inquisition,” among many other films and sketches, will follow up on the massively popular ”Spamalot” show, written by cast member Eric Idle. The last true Monty Python production was 1983’s ”The Meaning of Life.” More details are expected at a press conference tomorrow in London.

    Source: BBC

  6. The 400-Pound High School Running Back Who’s Tough to Bring Down

    In the NFL, running backs are known for being short, muscular balls of power with explosive first steps. At Washington’s White Swan High, the varsity football team employs a different type of weapon: 6-foot-4, 400-pound Tony Picard. Located on a Native American reservation, White Swan only has 300 students, so Picard’s team must get creative. Picard, a co-captain, trained at running back after coaches saw how surprisingly athletic he is. “It takes multiple guys to tackle me down, four or five,” Picard says. And this season, the hefty back averaged an outsized six yards per carry.

    Sources: AP, ABC News