The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Reports of Mass Graves Heighten Fears in South Sudan

    United Nations officials have discovered at least one mass grave and have reports of at least two more, in what they warn is a “breakdown in respect for the most basic rights of people” in the new nation of South Sudan. One report goes so far as to suggest the woes amount to an ethnic cleansing. U.S. Marines are on standby in Spain to help evacuate more citizens if necessary, as warring factions come ever closer to full-out civil war. 

    Sources: BBC, CNN, NYT

  2. Reflective Snowden Says Mission Accomplished

    The man whose revelations about the breadth of NSA spying rocked the world this year turned reflective in a Russian hideaway. Edward Snowden says he didn’t set out to change the world, but rather, to give the world the tools to change itself — to let the public make their own choices about their government, not the other way around. He shrugs off his critics, and says well before making his concerns public, he talked to his NSA supervisors — they just didn’t listen. 

    Source: Washington Post


  3. New Study Finds 1 In 5 People Still Live In Extreme Poverty

    A new Gallup study finds some 22 percent of Earth’s occupants live in extreme poverty, defined by the World Bank as living on less than $1.25 a day. The global poverty rate has been halved in the past 20 years, but it’s still far from the World Bank’s goal of cutting extreme poverty to 3 percent by 2030. The study, which drew its conclusions by analyzing self-reported income, showed that 54 percent of sub-Saharan Africa lives in extreme poverty. By contrast, in the U.S., it’s less than one percent.

    Sources: Gallup, Al Jazeera, The Economist

  4. Long-Term Unemployment Benefits Set to Expire in U.S.

    Soon 1.3 million jobless Americans will lose their unemployment benefits. The expiring program, which provides emergency assistance to the long-term unemployed, was introduced in 2008 after the market crash. Politicians argue over whether the benefits keep the jobless from looking for work, but studies suggest ending the program could slice up to 0.4 percentage points off the U.S. economy’s growth. With Congress not expected to consider the issue again until 2014, it looks like even limited government assistance will no longer be guaranteed for many unemployed Americans.

    Source: The Guardian

  5. Plea Rejected, Musharraf Heads to Trial to Face Treason Charges

    Would-be coup leaders take note: military force doesn’t always pay. Pervez Musharraf seized control of Pakistan in 1999 and ruled until 2008, when he was impeached. He has now been called to Islamabad’s high court over treason charges. Musharraf had been living in exile in Dubai and London, but returned to Pakistan in March hoping to reignite his political career. Instead, he’s facing a plethora of charges for actions carried out during his regime, including the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

    Sources: BBC, Economic Times

  6. Federal Judge Rules Gay Marriage Can Continue in Utah

    A U.S. federal judge declined the state of Utah’s request to temporarily halt gay marriages while appeals move through the court system, ensuring that same-sex marriages will continue in the conservative state, at least for the near future. Earlier, Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled that Utah’s longstanding ban on gay marriage violated same-sex couples’ rights to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment. Hundreds of couples lined up across the state yesterday to the sound of wedding bells.

    Sources: NBC, USA Today


  1. The Scenes That Capture Our World, Circa 2013

    An officer standing as a powerful bulwark against bad above a fallen runner. The tragedy of love that defied death in a Bangladesh factory disaster. A loving couple’s shared smiles (OK, so they’re the President and First Lady). Here’s looking at the most stunning photos – from the tragic to the touching – that defined 2013. Click through to for the full links to these amazing photos. Do you agree? Which ranks Number 1? What did we miss? Tell us below or

  2. Natural Disasters, Protests and Their Discontents, War’s Devastation

    The world is watching, or at least it was as photographers were in the right places at the right time to catch some of the biggest news events of the year. From natural and man-made disasters (German floods, Bangladeshi building collapses, Somali bombings and multiple wars) to a view inside North Korea’s notorious secrecy, the best global photographs of 2013 put the year’s major news events in focus. Lest that list seem too dark, there’s also some charming selfies, triumphs and one incredible polar bear in our roundup.

    Sources: Mirror/AFP, Washington Post, Reuters, The Atlantic, NBC News, TIME, National Geographic

  3. A Year After Sandy: Boston Bombing, Political Defiance, Nature Narratives

    Closer to home, photojournalists captured events that shook a nation, such as the Boston bombing and Hurricane Sandy’s on-going wreckage of unlucky East Coasters’ lives. They also spotted quiet urgency in rural America, and one of Hilary Clinton’s rare moments snapping out of her normal grace under fire while testifying on Capital Hill regarding the Benghazi attack.

    Sources: NYMag, TIME, American Photo, Washington Post

  4. The Arts Gave us Dazzling and Trashy Photos in 2013

    Two robots resurfaced wearing sequined black tuxedos. Scandal’s Kerry Washington wore a gold gown so beautiful that jaws dropped. And Miley Cyrus … well, Miley did and wore everything that made jaws drop for totally different reasons. 2013’s International Fine Art Photography Award went to Marcin Ryczek’s stunning “A Man Feeding Swans in the Snow,” which juxtaposes black with white, land with water, and man with animal in ways that seem almost impossible. This year is almost over, but we have a feeling Ryczek’s image will be on computer backgrounds for years to come.

    Sources: Pitchfork, People, Wonderwall, Colossal

  5. The Year’s Most Amazing and Emotional Sports Images

    In 2013, photographers captured athletes pushing their bodies to the sheer limit of human capability, be it Sergey Nazin’s flexed muscles flipping past Barcelona’s skyline at the world diving championships or bleeding runners after the horrific Boston Marathon bombing. The year’s best images featured that overflowing elation only sports elicits. Take Boston police officer Steve Horgan, momentarily losing himself and joyously throwing his hands skyward as Detroit’s Torii Hunter tumbles headfirst over the outfield wall, and the Red Sox inch closer to their eventual World Series championship.

    Sources: Mashable, BuzzFeed, CS Monitor