The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Terror Takes Center Stage in EU Talks

    Their agenda has changed. Following deadly attacks in Paris and a failed plot in Belgium, EU ministers — who had primarily planned to discuss Russian relations — now have a new focus: terrorism. Nearly 30 European leaders are meeting in Brussels today to discuss how the Continent should deal with radicalized citizens returning from wars in Iraq and Syria. Their goal is to thwart future attacks on home soil, with today’s talks intended to impact decisions made at next month’s leaders’ summit.

    AFP, BBC

  2. Battle Rages for Donetsk Airport

    They’re facing off again. Rebels have upped attacks against Ukraine forces over control of the key transit terminal in the eastern part of the country. Kiev launched its own bid to retake lost ground. Civilians have numbered among the casualties in the past few days. Ukrainian officials say Russian troops crossed over on Monday, a charge Russia denies, as Moscow calls Kiev’s move a “strategic mistake.” The airport itself is barely above a ruin, but could potentially still welcome flights. If one side or the other prevails.

    BBC, Reuters


  3. NSA Hacked N. Korea Before Sony Attack

    The Americans knew too fast. The quickness with which the U.S. tied the rogue regime to the Sony hacking prompted questions. Namely, how did they know? Apparently the NSA tapped into the Korean computer systems back in 2010, but that wasn’t enough to warn Hollywood. Only in hindsight did the U.S. realize what happened. Doubters still don’t think North Korea could have pulled it off, and the U.S. isn’t giving details of their technological prowess for fear of putting state secrets at risk.


  4. Obama Eyes Prosperity Gap

    He’s the populist president again. In tomorrow’s State of the Union address Obama will unveil a proposal to slap the wealthiest Americans with new taxes, such as boosting the top capital gains rate to 28 percent and closing an inheritance tax loophole that shields billions in assets each year. While the tax hikes almost certainly won’t pass a Republican-controlled Congress, Obama’s looking to shape the agenda for his final years — and set up Democrats for 2016. Attacking the wealth gap puts the GOP on notice.

    NYT, Vox, MSNBC

  5. Richest to Own Half of World’s Wealth

    While debate over wealth tax heats up in America, new data shows that the wealthiest 1 percent globally will soon own more than all the rest combined. The richest now own 48 percent of the world’s wealth, but will control over half of it by 2016, says charity Oxfam. Such inequality could impede the fight against global poverty as the poor get smaller shares of a shrinking economic pie, while the same inequality limits growth. Solutions include cracking down on tax-evading firms and taxing the rich, but powerful lobbies stand in the way.

    BBC, Bloomberg

  6. Cuban Convicts May Be Sent Back

    Immigrants who commit serious crimes almost always face deportation — except Cuban immigrants in the U.S., who haven’t been deported thanks to chilly relations between their native and adopted lands. Now, in the face of a political thaw, Cuban criminals may be sent back to their island nation, in some cases long after they’ve served their time. The Obama administration aims to get Cuba on board and rid America of some serious criminals. Lawyers of Cuban suspects, meanwhile, are starting to warn clients that pleading guilty may have unforeseen consequences.


  7. Pope Confirms U.S. Trip Cities, Argentine Prosecutor Found Dead

    The pontiff will visit Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia. (NBC)

    Prosecutor in Argentina bombing inquiry killed with gunshot to head. (NYT)

    Presidential guard, Houthi rebels clash in Yemen. (Al Jazeera)

    Teen runaway suspects captured in Panama City, Fla. (USA Today)

    Boko Haram suspected in abduction of 80 Cameroonians. (DW)

    Uber promises 50,000 European jobs this year. (FT) sub


  1. Protesters Chase MLK’s Legacy

    They have a dream. Activists from Black Lives Matter — an American campaign sparked by police violence against young black men — want to evolve into a powerful force for equality like the civil rights movement of Martin Luther King Jr.’s day. Events are being held nationwide today to honor King’s legacy. While activists want to pick up his mantle, their moment may be fleeting unless they find a collective voice backed by “a pragmatic policy package” that goes beyond the single issue of police brutality.

    Mother Jones, TIME

  2. NFL Investigates Patriots Over Flat Balls

    Did New England cheat? League officials are looking into allegations that the Pats intentionally deflated balls during their thrashing of the Indianapolis Colts yesterday. Flatter balls can be easier to grip and catch, especially in wet conditions as during the rain-soaked AFC title match. “It’s ridiculous,” responded Patriots QB Tom Brady. But one league source says several abnormal balls were taken out of play during the game. The scandal-plagued Patriots now head into the Super Bowl under a cloud of suspicion, and could lose future draft picks if found guilty.

    ESPN, Fox Sports

  3. The Invisible Wound Plaguing Soldiers

    Maybe the term “shell shock” isn’t so outdated. Brain trauma from the pressure of blast forces has become the most common, and least visible, combat injury out of Afghanistan and Iraq. It presents many of the same symptoms as PTSD, and has only recently started to be diagnosed. But there’s no confirmed treatment or cure, and the problems can linger the rest of a soldier’s life. That’s a lot of men and women sentenced to decades of confusion from this mysterious injury that scientists are just starting to understand.

    National Geographic

  4. Solar Power Poised to Explode

    About as many people work in solar as for coal firms. But that’s also a testament to just how much manpower goes into producing energy from the sun (a lot). If solar really wants to soar, those manpower needs will have to drop. But a boom may be in the wings. Prices have dropped from just five years ago. China has invested heavily. One estimate says 4 percent of the world’s energy market could go solar after 2020. Hopefully our environment can hold out that long.

    Vox, DW

  5. Women Hold Key to Smarter Groups

    Need a solution for team-building? Add more women. An MIT study shows that a group’s “collective intelligence” — the ability to brainstorm, reason and perform a variety of tasks — is much higher with more women in the mix. Females are better at reading colleagues’ emotions and collaborating, which are skills that help groups perform better, rather than relying on general intelligence. The implication is huge: As collaborative working environments increase, so too might women’s chances of closing the gender wage gap.

    The Atlantic

  6. Fox Looks to Revive ’The X-Files’

    The truth is still out there. Network execs confirmed that they’re in talks with series creator Chris Carter about bringing back the supernatural hit after a reboot of 24 outperformed the original. But a close encounter of the TV kind with Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny returning as beloved agents Scully and Mulder depends on some sticky scheduling and contractual issues. Either way, don’t get spooked by sightings of Twin Peaks and other 90s cult faves back on the small screen.

    Entertainment Weekly, Deadline

  7. Patriots, Seahawks Set for Super Face-Off

    A win is a win, but New England and Seattle couldn’t have had more different paths to Super Bowl XLIX. QB Tom Brady and the Pats trounced the younger, less experienced Colts 45-7 at home yesterday. Matching Brady’s three touchdowns, running back LeGarrette Blount stomped over Indy with 148 yards. The reigning champs, meanwhile, needed an onside kick to eke out a nail-biting overtime win against the Packers 28-22. But come Feb. 1 in Phoenix, the slate’s wiped clean.

    ESPN, SB Nation

  8. How to Lure Millennials Back to Finance

    You can’t just throw cash at them. Younger workers value experiences over possessions, the social good over individual gain and job satisfaction above all. The huge bonuses of the past only go so far. So some big banks are adjusting by encouraging new recruits to take weekends off. They’re even embracing social media and taking selfies on recruiting trips. But to really draw today’s graduates, Wall Street must align its working culture to a socially minded generation more driven by purpose than profits.

    World Finance