The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. India’s Infamous Rape Case a Year Later: Not Enough Has Changed

    A year ago the gang rape of a medical student on a bus, and the young woman’s death, plunged the nation and the world into mourning and a global discussion of what went wrong and how to fix it. This year reports of rapes have soared in the subcontinent — but that might be a good thing, signifying victims are stepping up. But that doesn’t help the dead woman’s family, who despite public and private monetary help, feel the sharp pain of losing their beloved eldest child. 

    Sources: BBC, Hindustan Times, BBC

  2. Syria Drops Explosive Barrels from the Sky, Killing Children

    Some 76 people, including as many as 28 children, have been killed in the worst bombings Aleppo has seen in more than six months. Syria’s second-largest city was struck by explosive-laden barrels carried by government planes. Earlier in the week Laurent Fabius, France’s foreign minister, said he had little hope for the Geneva II talks, which will take place in January. The issue has grown so large that Monday, the U.N. predicted $13 billion in aid needs for 2014, half of which would be dedicated to Syria alone.

    Sources: BBC, AFP, AP 

  3. McCain, and the U.S., Officially Support the Kiev Protesters

    The Ukrainian demonstrators have a friend in the U.S. Sen. John McCain communicated the support of the United States for the 200,000-strong movement on Sunday. The problems began when the Ukrainian government rejected an association agreement with the EU in favor of closer alliance with Russia. European negotiators aren’t too keen on Kiev either: Brussels announced that it would freeze attempts to revive the deal. McCain, who has denounced Russia across the former Soviet Union, seemed particularly focused on Ukrainian President Yanukovych’s meeting with President Putin, scheduled for Tuesday.  

    Sources: NPR, NYT, Washington Post

  4. Former Chilean President Bachelet Retakes Her Post

    Michelle Bachelet beat Evelyn Matthei by a 62 percent majority in runoff elections for the Chilean presidency. Bachelet previously served from 2006 to 2010. Electoral law required her to step down before seeking a second term. She leads a coalition of Socialists, Christian Democrats and Communists, and has adopted a radical agenda aimed at achieving greater equality in one of South America’s richest nations. But offering free university education and removing vestiges of the Pinochet dictatorship won’t come cheap.  

    Sources: BBC, WSJ, Bloomberg

  5. Chinese Rover Returns First Lunar Images

    The Chinese rover Jade Rabbit landed safely on the moon, the first robot probe to make a lunar landing in nearly 40 years. The government celebrated the event as a victory for China’s space program, which aims to explore the peaceful uses of outer space, despite being backed by the military. Chinese technology lags far behind the U.S. and Russia, but this small step for a robot is a big leap for a nation hoping to launch a manned mission to the moon after 2020.

    Sources: Washington Post, NPR


  1. Pope Francis Clarifies His Position on Marxists

    Pope Francis isn’t a Marxist, although he thinks many Marxists are fine people. His defense of socialism came as he defended his own statements denunciating capitalist excess. The pope said his actions are based on Catholic social doctrine. He previously said the church should focus on tackling poverty rather than obsessing over politicized issues. Meanwhile, as OZY foresaw, the pontiff has shuffled his bishops — and in a way that has major implications for the future of the church in the United States. 

    Sources: Time, NY TimesNational Catholic Reporter

  2. Where Do iPhones Go to Die?

    There’s a dark side to our love for electronic gadgets: it produces tons of e-waste. The quantity of digital discarded materials is expected to grow by 33 percent in the next four years, and so far there is no efficient way to deal with it. Millions of dead electronic devices are illegally dumped in developing countries, where their toxic components contaminate the environment and put local people’s health at serious risk. The UN recently warned that this year’s Christmas sales of phones, laptops and tablets could cause a dangerous flood of e-waste down the line.

    Sources: The Guardian, Al Jazeera

  3. Kosovo Finally Gets Some Recognition — on Facebook

    Five years after its secession from Serbia, Kosovo is finally recognized as an independent country, at least in the eyes of Facebook. After months of lobbying, Facebook has agreed that users should have the option of identifying Kosovo as their native country. It’s not exactly a seat at the UN Security Council table, but Petrit Selimi — Kosovo’s deputy foreign minister and the man behind this diplomatic strategy — is satisfied with the campaign’s success. He believes that “being recognized online has far greater resonance than some back room in Brussels.” 

    Sources: NYT

  4. Actor Peter O’Toole Dead at 81

    After a long period of illness, actor Peter O’Toole died on Saturday in London. He portrayed Lawrence of Arabia, Henry II, Don Quixote and Mr. Chips in his storied career. Though he received eight Oscar nominations, O’ Toole never held a statuette. In 2003, the Academy presented him with a lifetime achievement award. The actor was famous for his drinking, gambling and playboy lifestyle, but pancreatitis put him on the path to sobriety in the mid-’70s. Also passing: Oscar-winning actress Joan Fontaine, sister to Olivia de Havilland, who worked with Alfred Hitchcock among other star directors. 

    Sources: BBC, NY Times, Today

  5. Australian Claims World Surfing Title to Rank Among the Great

    The world’s top-ranked wave-rider almost threw it all away. Mick Fanning toyed with losing his lead in the Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour. Entering this weekend’s Hawaiian Pipe Masters, he had a substantial lead over Kelly Slater, the most successful surfer in history. Fanning only needed to reach the semi-finals to achieve his third world title. But twice Fanning danced with disaster, until he pulled off almost perfect waves at the last minute to take the crown. The title establishes Fanning as a surfing great, poised to dominate when Slater, now 41, eventually retires.

    Sources: ABC, The Guardian