The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. $2 Gas Becomes the New Normal

    The Show Me State is showing how the global oil glut is padding American pockets. Thanks to low gas taxes, Missouri is the first state in the nation to boast average pump prices below two bucks a gallon for the first time in five years. Oklahoma will follow suit within days. The national average gas price has sunk for 92 days straight and now stands at $2.32 per gallon, the lowest since May 2009. Cheap gas is already shifting consumer behavior, from auto purchases to driving habits.

    CNN Money, USA Today


  2. Nations Mark Tsunami’s 10th Anniversary

    It’s been a decade since horror struck. Communities in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand are paying tribute to the more than 220,000 victims of 2004’s Indian Ocean tsunami, when 100-foot-plus waves were sparked by a 9.1-magnitude underwater earthquake. Indonesia’s vice president led a memorial service today at a mass grave in the country’s worst-hit Aceh province. The region had long been plagued by armed conflict, but a local imam says that people now “live in harmony and peace” in the wake of the devastation.

    BBC, DW

  3. Ukraine, Rebels Swap Prisoners

    They’ll be home for the new year. Pro-Russia rebels agreed to trade 150 soldiers for 225 people held by Ukrainian authorities in their biggest prisoner swap yet. Most the captives will go free today and tomorrow. Although the move ahead of traditional holiday celebrations should ease some tensions, peace talks to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine have broken down. Meanwhile, Ukraine cut off vital bus and rail links with Russia-annexed Crimea. Here’s hoping the sides make a resolution to keep talking.

    BBC, Reuters

  4. Japan’s Inflation Slumps Again

    Prices are going nowhere. The Japanese inflation rate fell in November to its lowest level in more than a year, while factory output, wages and household spending dropped unexpectedly. These are all danger signs for an economy that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is desperately trying to revive from recession. Newly reelected for another four years, Abe must end a decade of falling prices. His government will unveil a $29-billion stimulus package tomorrow, and Japan’s central bank could provide additional easing as early as January.

    Bloomberg, Reuters, WSJ (sub)

  5. Cyberattack Ruins Holiday for Gamers

    Santa got run over by … hackers, apparently. Denying children their games is just plain mean, but that’s exactly what hacking group Lizard Squad claims to have done, taking Xbox Live and PlayStation’s networks offline on Christmas Day. Makers of the consoles, Microsoft and Sony, didn’t comment on the hacking claim but are working to resolve the issue. Some parents of disappointed kids, meanwhile, are demanding answers and may seek compensation.

    The Guardian, Quartz, BBC

  6. Obama Thanks Troops for Afghan Effort

    Peace and prosperity were the themes of his Christmas address. Speaking to Marines in Hawaii, Obama ushered in the final days of U.S. troop involvement in Afghanistan by thanking them for their fine work in fostering positive change. The president is in the process of pulling combat troops from the country, ending a $1-trillion effort that has spanned the 13 years since 9/11. “We are safer,” Obama said, noting that Afghanistan will not be a source of future terrorist attacks.

    USA Today, Honolulu Star Advertiser

  7. Mastermind of Massacre Killed, ‘The Interview’ Makes $1 Million


    “Facilitator” of Pakistani school attack killed. (Washington Post)

    Sea of blue greets casket of Rafael Ramos. (USA Today)

    North Korean comedy pulls in packed crowds. (CNN Money)

    Minsk peace negotiations called off. (BBC)

    Father of captured Jordanian pilot begs militants to release him. (DW)

    Protest movement hits a crossroads in NYC. (NYT)

    Arsonist torches mosque in Sweden, injuring five. (The Local)

    Turkish teen released after arrest over Erdogan criticism. (BBC)


  1. TV’s ‘Screech’ Charged in Bar Stabbing

    Guess he’s not into giving out autographs. Dustin Diamond, best known as the Afroed nerd in the TV series Saved by the Bell, was arrested Christmas night in Wisconsin after allegedly pulling a switchblade on a man who had taken a picture of him and his girlfriend. The former star was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and reckless behavior. This won’t help his public image, already battered by a controversial memoir in which he revealed sordid stories about his co-stars.

    CNN, USA Today

  2. Putin Says Nyet to Cabinet Holidays

    Now we know things are bad. First the Russian president put a freeze on vodka prices. Now he’s ordering Kremlin ministers to work during the 12-day hiatus usually reserved for New Year’s and Orthodox Christmas, which is Jan. 7. “We cannot afford this long holiday, at least this year — you know what I mean,” Putin said. What he means is the disastrous Russian economy choked by Western sanctions and weighed down by a sinking ruble. Perhaps Putin thinks the Grinch can save Mother Russia.

    The Atlantic

  3. Son Pays Off Parents’ Mortgage

    He’s paying them back big time. In a video posted on YouTube, Joseph Riquelme nonchalantly slips his mom an envelope — “I have one more gift for you” — and she bursts into tears of joy after reading the note. Then it’s Pop’s turn to tear up. The young tech entrepreneur has apparently done well for himself, most recently with a popular iPhone video editing app called Videoshop. It’s the kind of Christmas that many parents of millennials surely dream about.

    CBS News, Minnesota Public Radio


  4. Scotland Yard’s ‘Black Museum’ to Go Public

    Channel your inner investigator with gruesome evidence from some of the world’s most notorious crime scenes. The collection is currently only open to authorities and special visitors, but everyone may soon get to gawk at the pans Dennis Nilsen used to boil victims’ flesh or the “From Hell” letter attributed to Jack the Ripper. London’s Metropolitan Police are considering a public exhibit, and curators are sifting through the displays — which have apparently caused some to faint — to see which are safe to show.

    The Independent

  5. Green Comet Streaks Past for the Holidays

    This year is going out in a blaze of glory. A rare comet is lighting up the sky for the holidays, glowing green as the sun’s solar wind hits molecules on its surface. Discovered just recently, comet Lovejoy has gotten brighter as it has approached the sun, beating astronomers’ expectations for when it would become visible to the naked eye. The comet can now be spotted through binoculars, but scientists say it’ll shine brightest in the new year.

    National Geographic, News Everyday

  6. Miami Fans Salute King James

    How jolly of them. Fans gave LeBron James a standing ovation yesterday in his first game in Miami since ditching the Heat to return to Cleveland. Sure, there were scattered boos, but the South Beach crowd mostly showed gratitude to the star who gifted them four NBA Finals appearances and two championships. An emotional LeBron even admitted to pregame butterflies before the Cavs’ 101-91 loss. At least he avoided the withering reception he got when he first played in Cleveland as a member of the 2010 Heat.

    ESPN, Yahoo

  7. ‘Fountain of Youth’ Drug Coming Soon

    A Christmas miracle or wishful thinking? Scientists are working on a drug that targets a genetic signaling pathway linked to aging and immunity. This experimental version of the drug rapamycin could potentially delay the effects of aging and the onset of age-related diseases, according to researchers from pharmaceutical company Novartis. An experiment involving more than 200 people showed a 20-percent improvement in immune response to a flu vaccine — offering what one researcher called a “watershed” moment for longer, healthier lives.

    Live Trading News, Pune Mirror