The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Brian Williams Suspended For Six Months

    He’s getting dinged for $6.5 million. NBC is taking its tarnished Nightly News anchor off the air for six months without pay. The punishment follows revelations that Williams, who reportedly earns $13 million a year, puffed up an Iraq war story in which he supposedly took enemy fire. NBC News president Deborah Turness characterized a fact-checking investigation into Williams as “ongoing,” suggesting the network could take further action. Indeed, questions are still surfacing over his reporting, going back as far as the 1970s.

    NBC News, NYT, WSJ (sub)

  2. DSK: I Only Went to 4 Sex Parties a Year

    He was simply too busy “saving the world” to attend any more sex orgies. Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn took the stand today to deny that he committed “aggravated pimping” at a series of parties with prostitutes. Facing his second sex scandal since a 2011 rape charge, the man once considered for the French presidency has been trying desperately to resurrect his career. But so far, his testimony is painting an ugly picture of a tone-deaf, sex-crazed politician. At stake is a potential 10-year prison sentence. 

    Bloomberg, BBC, NYT

  3. NYPD Cop in Stairwell Killing to Face Charges

    A grand jury has indicted New York City police officer Peter Liang, 27, for killing an unarmed black man while patrolling a housing project last November. Liang will face six counts, including second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, for shooting Akai Gurley, 28, in a darkened stairwell without saying a word. The shooting occurred weeks before another jury declined to bring charges in the chokehold death of Eric Garner. It’s the latest high-profile case that has advocates calling for police reforms and changes to the grand jury system.

    NYT, Washington Post

  4. Boston Buckles Under Record White

    Dear Winter, we’re through. So say Bostonians after a season that’s already one for the record books. The numbers tell the story: 69 inches of snow in 30 days, with 37 inches on the ground now. Already 2015 will go down as one of the top 10 snowiest winters in city history, with six weeks left. It’s not just the annoyance factor, but classes and work canceled and buildings buckling — at least one sheet metal shop collapsed. One day they’ll see the ground again., NBC


  5. U.S. Aid Worker Held Confirmed Dead

    Kayla Mueller wanted to help. Instead, the aid worker was captured by ISIS. Today her family and the White House confirmed her death, days after the militant organization said she died in an airstrike. Her parents didn’t offer details, but they did release a letter she wrote. Her case is already prompting questions about policies barring negotiations with terrorists, especially as the parents of another American captive say U.S. officials threatened criminal charges if the family paid an ISIS ransom.

    NYT, Arizona Central

  6. Ukraine Fighting Flares as West Plans Peace

    Pro-Russian rebels claim they’ve surrounded the key railway town of Debaltseve. Kiev denies it, but it’s hardly an indication that peace has a fighting chance. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, meanwhile, has taken her ceasefire plans north, meeting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa. She reiterated her opposition to arming Ukrainian troops with lethal aid, which President Obama has not ruled out. Both Obama and Harper are skeptical of Putin’s commitment to peace, but hope to see progress at tomorrow’s summit in Minsk.

    DW, BBC, CBC

  7. Gay Marriage Pits SCOTUS vs. Alabama

    The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to bless one state judge’s argument for delaying same-sex nuptials. After a federal judge ruled Alabama’s marriage ban unconstitutional, the state’s chief justice decided probate judges shouldn’t issue same-sex wedding licenses. The state appealed to SCOTUS and lost. While some Alabama judges are still holding out, experts expect gay unions to prevail statewide soon. The legal wrangling could hint at how the high court will rule when it hears a same-sex marriage case in April.


  8. Is OPEC Winning the Oil Price War?

    The oil cartel’s gambit may be paying off. At least that’s the suggestion from its latest market report, which forecasts that demand for OPEC oil will increase by 100,000 barrels per day, while U.S. output will be 130,000 barrels a day less than projected. U.S. crude prices rose 2.3 percent on the report, which supports the cartel’s strategy of letting prices fall to hurt rivals. But naysayers aren’t buying the rebound: Citigroup says oil could plummet to $20 a barrel, leading to the “end of OPEC.”

    Fortune, CSM, WSJ (sub)

  9. Assad Claims He’s Informed by Coalition

    Are they keeping him in the loop? Syrian President Bashar Assad says he’s getting messages from third parties — like Iraq — about the U.S.-led allies’ fight against ISIS. But he insists there can be no cooperation between Damascus and the coalition, because Syria cannot be affiliated with countries that “support terrorism,” meaning those that back Syrian rebels. President Obama, meanwhile, will ask Congress tomorrow for authorization to use force against ISIS for up to three years, whether Assad likes it or not.

    BBC, AP, Reuters

  10. Apple Is First $700 Billion Company, Anti-Corruption Party Wins in Delhi

    Tech giant is first company to close above $700 billion market cap. (BusinessInsider)

    Indian anti-corruption party wins state elections in setback for Modi. (BBC)

    Purposefully exposing kids to measles is a bad idea, experts warn. (AP)

    Malaysian opposition chief loses ‘political’ sodomy appeal. (Al Jazeera)

    Illinois governor takes aim at public employee unions. (NYT)

    Greek exit worries drag on European markets. (Reuters)

    New California solar plant can power 160,000 homes. (LA Times)


  1. Jon Stewart Quitting ‘The Daily Show’

    He’s mocked the news long enough. The famed funnyman let it slip while taping tonight’s show that he will step aside sometime this year, ending 16 years as “the most trusted source in fake news.” Comedy Central confirmed the departure, while reassuring viewers the show will go on. Stewart skewered politicians and newsmakers with withering wit, and changed the way many Americans consume their news. While fans are already mourning, there may be some glee in the halls of Congress.

    LA Times, The Atlantic, Variety

  2. Spelling Stymies English-Speaking Kids

    English may be the world’s most irregularly spelled language, requiring abilities that most children don’t develop until the middle or latter part of elementary school, according to researchers. While kids are forced to memorize the spellings of thousands of words, they struggle with unrealistic expectations to master “reading levels” — dooming many to give up before they achieve a high literacy level. Large-scale spelling reform hasn’t taken off, but one proposed solution is “tidying” up the 2,828 most-common irregularly spelled words. Never mind the effect on Scrabble.

    The Atlantic

  3. Neil Armstrong’s Secret Stash Found

    The first man on the moon kept space souvenirs. Months after his 2012 death, Neil Armstrong’s widow found a white cloth bag crammed in a closet of their Ohio home. Known as a “McDivitt purse,” the bag contained repair equipment carried on the Eagle lunar module — some of the very few items brought back to Earth from Tranquility Base after the 1969 Apollo 11 mission. Among the priceless artifacts was the 16mm movie camera used to film the historic first moonwalk.

    Smithsonian Magazine, The Independent

  4. ‘Saul’ Breaks Ratings Record

    It was better than Bad. The debut of Better Call Saul, AMC’s Breaking Bad spinoff, smashed a cable record for the key demographic of viewers under 50. The 4.4 million total of younger viewers is nearly a million more than the previous record-holder, HBO’s Deadwood. Overall, 6.9 million people watched the prequel centered on Walter White’s morally challenged lawyer. But Saul’s real day in court starts next week after the show moves to Mondays, where it will no longer follow ratings monster The Walking Dead.


  5. Popovich Nets 1,000th Win With Spurs

    Who’d have imagined this in 1997? San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich notched 1,000 wins last night as his Spurs rallied to defeat the Indiana Pacers 95-93. He’s the ninth coach ever with so many wins, the third fastest to get there, and only the second to do it with the same team. Amazingly, “Pop” has more wins than five NBA franchises. Not bad for a former GM who fired his predecessor, named himself coach and ended his first season with 47 losses.

    Bleacher Report, Washington Post

  6. Senator: Hackers Can Crash Your Car

    You may want to pull over. Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey sounded the alarm yesterday on what he called the auto industry’s lackluster efforts to protect cars against hacks that can potentially tamper with vehicles’ brakes or steering. His report highlights how cars are increasingly becoming connected computers on wheels — with all of the vulnerabilities of PCs — and how anti-hacking measures have been “inconsistent and haphazard.” But some experts are hitting the brakes, calling the concerns overblown.

    Wired, CNBC