The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Wreckage and Bodies Found in AirAsia Search

    Debris and bodies from missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 have been found six miles from the point of last communication, in the Karimata Straits, officials confirmed Tuesday. Pictures of floating bodies were shown on Indonesian television, prompting horrified reactions from family members in the crisis center at Surabaya. The Airbus, with 162 people on board, disappeared during bad weather on Sunday. Several bodies have been recovered. 

    Reuters, Al Jazeera, BBC, USA Today

  2. CDC Declares Flu Epidemic

    Fifteen children have died so far this season. With outbreaks in every part of the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is raising a red-flag alert about an influenza strain that is particularly dangerous for kids. This year’s vaccine turned out to be a poor match for the H3N2 virus blamed for the high number of hospitalizations. While flu season is peaking now, about 100 children die from related complications every year. Keep washing those hands.

    ABC, Yahoo

  3. Kremlin Critic Set Free While Brother Jailed

    The Russians didn’t want a martyr. That’s the speculation on why rabble-rouser Alexei Navalny netted a suspended sentence Tuesday, while his brother Oleg faces three and a half years behind bars. The brothers were convicted of embezzling some $500,000 from a cosmetics company, but Russia watchers assume it’s the charismatic Alexei’s anti-corruption campaign that officials really want to stop. The sentencing switcheroo may backfire anyway. Protests have begun, and Alexei was again in police custody, for breaking house arrest and joining them. 

    Reuters, BBC, The Guardian


  4. Michael Grimm Resigns From Congress

    Republican leaders have not had a relaxing break. Congressman Michael Grimm announced his resignation last night, two weeks after pleading guilty to tax evasion. Although the lone New York Republican previously insisted he would retain his position, a talking-to from John Boehner seems to have changed his mind. Meanwhile, Louisiana’s Steve Scalise yesterday admitted, through a spokesperson, that he addressed a Klan-linked white supremacist group in 2002. Both cases will frustrate Republicans who hoped to take control of both chambers with a clean slate.

    NYT, WP

  5. Record Floods Cause Almost 250,000 Malaysians to Flee

    The waters haven’t hit this high in a decade. December marks monsoon season in Southeast Asia, and the rains have fallen heavily this year. At least 36 have died in Malaysia and Thailand. Officials acknowledge there’s been a “complete collapse” in emergency response. Fast currents and strong winds keep rescue crews grounded. It doesn’t help that the prime minister was golfing with President Obama in Hawaii. It may be a while before the extent of the damage, physical and political, is known.

    Reuters, Malay Mail

  6. Chinese Smartphone Makers Earn Top Spot

    Xiaomi is the world’s most valuable technology startup, yet many Americans don’t even know it exists. With $1.1 billion in new financing, the Chinese smartphone maker is now valued at more than $46 billion, surpassing Snapchat, Dropbox and Uber. It’s been called China’s Apple — mostly due to products that look so similar it’s been accused of outright theft. The cash infusion will expand Xiaomi’s online-only business model, but it will likely continue to ignore America.

    CNET, The Verge, WSJ (sub)

  7. UK Responds to First Ebola Case

    The UK has confirmed its first case of Ebola, diagnosing a Glasgow nurse who returned from Sierra Leone on Sunday. She is being moved to a special unit in London and a second worker is being tested in Scotland. Meanwhile, scientists are struggling with the idea that, in West Africa, Ebola may now become an endemic disease — that is, one that crops up frequently without needing an outside source to introduce it, like the flu in the United States.

    The Guardian, Scientific American, BBC

  8. GOP Does Damage Control, Ferry Death Toll Rises

    House Republicans try to contain white-supremacist furor. (Washington Post)

    Ferry fire off Greek coast killed 13. (NYT)

    George H.W. Bush released from hospital. (ABC News)

    Iran nuclear talks to resume Jan. 15. (Reuters)

    Bush and Christie top GOP presidential poll. (USA Today)

    NY assembly speaker investigated over payments. (NYT)

    U.S. airstrikes target al-Shabab leader in Somalia. (BBC)


  1. Clinton Keeps ‘Most Admired’ Streak

    For the 13th year in a row, Hillary Clinton has been named the woman Americans most admire anywhere in the world, ahead of Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, Oprah Winfrey and Condoleezza Rice, among others. The Gallup poll also named President Obama as the most admired man for the 7th year running. His success is no surprise, since incumbent presidents nearly always win the distinction, but Clinton’s astonishing run in the poll probably has many Republicans wondering: Who’s doing the counting?


  2. Ladies Increasingly Inclined to Whiskey

    Lady Gaga loves it, Christina Hendricks promotes it and Rihanna sings about it: Whiskey is enjoying a newfound popularity among women. In the 1990s, women made up about 15 percent of whiskey drinkers, but today they comprise close to 40 percent. Why? While taste is a factor, experts also point to the fact that we culturally associate whiskey and power. As old boys’ networks slacken their hold on the levers of power, their drink of choice is becoming a favorite of the new elite.


  3. Can Fingerprints be Hacked?

    The gloves are on. Jan Krissler, a member of Europe’s largest hacker association, claims to have replicated the fingerprint of German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen using close-range images taken by a standard camera at a news conference. But though his finding is unsettling, Krissler seems well-intentioned — his research is intended to show the weaknesses in existing security technologies, highlighting the need to upgrade to live biometrics, like vein recognition or body motion analysis.

    CNET, Deutsche Welle, BBC

  4. ’Serial’ Witness Jay Tells His Story

    The podcast has ended, but the intrigue continues. Jay Wilds, the state’s key witness who essentially slammed the bars on Adnan Syed for the 1999 murder of Syed’s ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, is changing his story once again in his first official interview. He offers a timeline of events that diverts from his original testimony, casting more doubt on the state’s case. The new wrinkle will feed doubts among the podcast’s fans, who are already skeptical of Jay’s testimony.

    The Intercept, Gawker, Mashable

  5. Ndamukong Suh Wins Appeal

    The NFL’s perennial troublemaker is getting a pass. An independent arbitrator made the decision to repeal Suh’s one-game suspension for stepping on the injured calf of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The penalty could have doomed Detroit had it faced the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday without its star defensive tackle. Known for a history of dirty plays, Suh will be fined $70,000 instead. But his team won’t quickly forget this episode when he becomes a free agent in 2015.

    USA Today