The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Memories of a Man Who Saved a Nation

    From world capitals to impoverished townships, mourners gathered to remember South African icon Nelson Mandela, who died last week at age 95. A memorial with speeches from President Obama and others filled a stadium — and made headlines with a famous selfie. Mandela lay in state for three days, drawing crowds of thousands who spent hours in line to pay their respects. He will be buried Sunday in his remote childhood village of Qunu. The question of how to best honor and draw lessons from his legacy might last another generation. 

    Sources: CBC, TimeDaily NewsNYT

  2. Holiday Shopping Homestretch: Getting the Gifts That Give

    At least 30 percent of annual giving happens in December. Even the rich wax philanthropic this time of year: seven billionaires signed the Giving Pledge, committing to give half of their wealth to charity. But for those facing tight economic times, it’s a challenge. For example, donations to the New York Coat Drive are down 35 percent while demand rose 25 percent. Even veterans, and some enlisted military, depend on donations this time of year. Charitable gifting can take many forms, from making donations to purchasing items. You can even donate from your smartphone

    Sources: Forbes, Denver Post, US News, Washington Times

  3. One Year After Newtown, Gun Violence Still Plagues US

    How far have we come since the horror of Newtown? The numbers show a disturbing lack of cultural and legislative resolution for American gun crime. Guns have killed 194 children (half died in their homes) since last year’s tragedy, the second-deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Yet, the NRA insists that arming adults is the best defense against gun violence. Of the roughly 1,500 gun control bills introduced in state legislatures since Sandy Hook, only 109 have become law. The “meaningful action” President Obama called for a year ago has yet to surface. 

    Sources: NYT, Mother Jones, Fox

  4. The Children at the Center of New York’s Inequality Boom

    There are 22,000 homeless children in New York City. The last time this many kids were without homes was the Great Depression. Children like Dasani, whose story is told as a sobering examination of the lives of such children. She’s living in an unsafe, unhygienic shelter. The series makes clear that outgoing Mayor Bloomberg’s policies to make the city’s homeless population more self-reliant have failed, even as rich New Yorkers enjoy a gilded age of opportunity. A lot rides on Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio’s promise to create a more equitable city.

    Source: NYT

  5. The Magnitsky List: A Microcosm Of US-Russian Relations 

    Six years ago, Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who had just uncovered $230 million worth of tax fraud in Moscow, died suspiciously. Since then, William Browder has run an independent investigation into his death. This work culminated in the Magnitsky Act, a blacklist of 18 Russians (including three Interior Ministry officials) allegedly involved in Magnitsky’s imprisonment and death, and who, since the signing of the bill into law last year, cannot travel to the US. This weekend’s congressional report promises to add more names to the blacklist, which will undoubtedly create more Russian-American tension around the controversial case. 

    Source: BBC


  1. The Most Powerful Greenhouse Gas Yet Discovered Is Manmade

    And people thought carbon dioxide was bad. Perfluorotributylamine (PFTBA) is 7,000 times more potent when it comes to raising the planet’s temperatures. The manmade chemical, used in electrical industries for over half a century, isn’t naturally absorbed by the environment and can stay in the atmosphere for some 500 years. No legislation yet exists to combat the threat this newly-found gas poses to the environment – but fortunately only a tiny concentration has appeared in the atmosphere so far.

    Source: The Guardian

  2. Can a Japanese Wunderkind Soar Past Shaun White?

    The redheaded blur that is American Shaun White has occupied snowboarding’s throne for more than a decade, winning halfpipe gold at the past two Winter Olympics. But all reigns must end, and a Japanese teen has emerged as a serious challenger. Ayumu Hirano won silver at his first X Games, despite a fall, and is expected to win his country’s first-ever Olympic snowboarding medal in Sochi. At only 5 feet 1 inch and 120 pounds, he achieves amplitude rivaled only by White. For Hirano, who just turned 15, the sky is quite literally the limit.

    Source: USA Today

  3. ’My Country Is A Horror Show’: David Simon Talks Two Americas

    The creator of ”The Wire” has experienced American life both working as a crime journalist and writing his crime TV epic. He’s seen first-hand the difference between what he calls “the viable America” (like his Baltimore suburb) and dead-end streets 20 blocks away. At Sydney’s Festival of Dangerous Ideas, David Simon condemned corporatism and the death of the working class as turning America into a “horror show”. ”The Wire,” Simon said, was about people faced with “economic irrelevance” – people who, he warned, are running out of options for political change with the amount of money put into campaigns.

    Source: The Guardian

  4. How Mobile Data Mapping can Strengthen Government Policy

    The expansion of cell phone ownership is empowering disadvantaged individuals to access improved finance, communications and education services. A recent UN report also suggests that mobile phone data may be a valuable tool in large-scale policy development. By tracking phone signals, policy-makers should be able to gain new insight into population movement, economic conditions and the nature of social interactions across the developing world. From city planning to disease control, and by assessing call locations, governments may be able to dramatically improve policy targeting. Though of course, in the post-Snowden era, privacy concerns may be a barrier to implementation.

    Source: All Africa