The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Legacies and Memories for the Witnesses in Dallas

    Fifty years ago today, President John F. Kennedy died in Texas, and still a nation, and some of those involved, struggled to move on in many ways. For witnesses, that day changed their lives. For a nation, a different course was chartered. One writer posits how the fatal events might have played out in today’s social media environment (hint: Zapruder’s wouldn’t have been the most notable footage). And yet, for some, truth remains elusive. 

    Sources: WSJ, LA Times, USA TodayNBC News

  2. The Hunger Games Sequel Takes Aim at the World

    Katniss returns. And judging from the reviews, she’s bigger, badder and better than ever, a rare feat for a sequel — much less one based on a young adult novel. Even the harsh Rotten Tomatoes crowd gives The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which opens today, a big thumbs up. The question isn’t if the movie will be one of the biggest blockbusters of the holiday season, but whether Catching Fire will sear the box office record books as well. 

    Sources: NPRDeadline, Rotten Tomatoes

  3. Dow Closes Above 16,000 for the First Time in History

    In a dramatic sign of the stock market’s strength, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 16,000 for the first time on Thursday. A stronger-than-expected jobs report, solid corporate earnings, and the Fed’s retention of historically low interest rates buoyed the index, which briefly crossed the milestone on Monday. The latter policy will likely remain, as Janet Yellen’s ascension to the Fed chairmanship is all but guaranteed after the Senate Banking Committee voted to approve her nomination. While market skeptics continue to argue that stocks are overvalued, hitting the 16,000 mark may encourage more investors to get off the sidelines and propel the Dow further toward what looks to be its best year in a decade.

    Sources: WSJ (sub), USA Today, BBC

  4. Samsung Ordered to Pay Apple $290 Million for Patent Infringements

    In the latest installment of the Samsung-Apple legal brawl, a San Jose jury sided with Apple, ordering Samsung to pay $290 million more in damages related to 13 products that infringed Apple’s patents. The trial was held to reassess $450 million worth of damages that Judge Lucy Koh determined an earlier jury had miscalculated. Samsung’s Apple tab now stands at $929 million. The pairs’ ongoing patent war — their legal battles rage around the globe — could also discourage smaller rivals from wading into the smart phone and tablet landscape.

    Sources: NYT, The Guardian, USA Today

  5. GM, Tesla and Dodge Mark Key Turnarounds

    The U.S. government announced that it will sell the rest of its General Motors stock by year’s end, winding down the controversial five-year bailout. Meanwhile, Consumer Reports gave Tesla’s Model S a 99/100 score — its best review in years — despite three of the cars dramatically catching fire in the past few months. And cameos from Will Ferrell as Anchorman’s Ron Burgundy in recent Chrysler-owned Dodge Durango commercials are credited with boosting the brand’s web presence and increasing sales by 59 percent in October alone. 

    Sources: WSJ (sub), Business Insider, Entertainment Weekly

  6. Ukraine Drops Trade Negotiations with EU in Abrupt Turn to Russia

    In a move that may reverberate for decades, Ukraine dramatically ceased negotiations to enter into a comprehensive trade and association agreement with the European Union. Instead, it announced that it would revive talks to join a customs union comprised of Russia and other former Soviet republics. Ukrainian officials told European negotiators that they stood to lose more than $500 billion in trade with Russia if they signed the EU pact. That, and fears of revived gas wars, prompted Ukraine’s prime minister to frame the announcement as a matter of national security.

    Sources: WSJ (sub), Business Insider, Al Jazeera

  7. JFK Remembered, Hunger Games Sequel and Xbox One Debut

    Magnus Carlsen, an OZY favorite, is the new world chess champion. (BBC).

    At least 45 have died after the roof of a Latvian supermarket collapsed. (CNN).

    U.K. police arrest couple suspected of holding three women captive in London house for 30 years. (BBC).

    FCC to consider allowing cell phone use in flight. (NYT).

    Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire opens in U.S., expected to top $700 million brought in by first film. (USA Today).

    Microsoft’s Xbox One makes long-awaited debut as console war heats up. (WSJ).


  1. Alabama Pardons the Scottsboro Boys 80 Years After False Convictions

    In 1931, nine young black men were falsely accused and convicted of raping two white women in Scottsboro, Ala. With almost no legal representation, all but one of the Scottsboro Boys were sentenced to death. Even with interventions from the U.S. Supreme Court, they all ended up serving jail time, and three of the teenagers took their false convictions with them to the grave. On Thursday the state’s parole board posthumously pardoned Haywood Patterson, Charles Weems and Andy Wright, marking the end of more than 80 years of struggle to reverse the convictions. 

    Sources: CBS, LA Times, NYT

  2. One of China’s Smoggiest Cities Turns Waste Into Heat

    The northern Chinese city of Shijiazhuang is one of China’s most polluted cities. Given that it’s not much of a tourist draw, Shijiazhuang is instead using its resources to create a new waste management system that might have wider applications for smoggy cities around the world. The city superheats wastewater to warm homes and cut down on burning coal, which is the main source of Shijiazhuang’s pollution woes. City officials say they expect to see a whopping 44 percent drop in energy consumption as a result.

    Source: BBC

  3. Saudi Man Apprehended for Offering Free Love

    Inspired by a viral video he had seen on YouTube, Abdulrahman al-Khayyal made a “Free Hug” sign and carried it around the streets of Riyadh, only to be arrested by Saudi Arabia’s religious police. Cited for “exotic practices,” the police made al-Khayyal sign a pledge to cease his campaign and then released him. Despite recent hints that the conservative Saudi kingdom has been considering reforms, when it comes to the enforcement of Sharia law, it appears that authorities may not yet be willing to embrace change. 

    Source: The Independent

  4. Should Movie Stuntmen Receive Oscar Awards?

    British action star and professional badass Jason Statham is calling for the Oscars to create an award for those unsung heroes, the stuntmen. Why should actors receive the highest accolades, while the men and women who take their bodies to the limit remain in the shadows? It’s not clear whether the Academy will take Statham’s suggestion seriously, but there’s no denying that jumping out of a flaming car and living to tell the tale is worthy of more recognition than a split second during the credits.

    Source: Vanity Fair

  5. Red Sox World Series Memorabilia Goes on Auction

    The trimmed beards of some of the members of the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox are for sale, with proceeds going to prostate cancer charity Movember. That’s right: for only a few hundred dollars you too can own scraps of hair that once majestically grew from the faces of Red Sox greats David Ortiz and Shane Victorino. Gillette, which organized the sale, and is throwing in razors signed by the players, is hoping the campaign will raise awareness about men’s health. The sheared beard is sure to make a bristling conversation starter.

    Source: ESPN