The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. 10-Year U.S. Treasury Yield Rises to 3% as Jobless Claims Drop

    The yield on 10-year notes hit 3% on Thursday as bond prices dropped, largely in response to a better-than-expected jobs report that furthered expectations that the Federal Reserve will continue to scale back its bond-buying program in 2014. The 10-year Treasury yield is one of the most-watched financial rates in the world; its rise to its highest levels of the year may signal a new reality of higher borrowing costs for American businesses and consumers. Though the U.S. economy added jobs at a higher rate in the second half of the year, 1.3 million Americans who remain unemployed will suffer another setback this weekend as federal jobless benefits, introduced in 2008, expire on Saturday.

    Sources: WSJ (sub), CNN, Al Jazeera, USA Today

  2. African Leaders Gather to Attempt Peace Talks in South Sudan

    Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn have met with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir to try and jumpstart peace talks between the government and those accused of attempting a coup. Kiir said supporters of former deputy president Riek Machar were behind last week’s coup attempt, which sparked ethnic conflict across South Sudan between the Dinkas and the Nuers, the ethnic groups of Kiir and Machar respectively. The UN estimates that more than 1,000 people have been killed and as many as 92,000 have fled their homes since fighting began in the world’s newest country.  

    Sources: The Guardian, NYT, USA Today

  3. Obama Approves Budget and Defense Bills While on Holiday

    President Obama, who is on vacation in Hawaii, has signed seven pieces of legislation including the two-year bipartisan budget deal negotiated in Congress earlier this month and a sweeping defense policy law. While acknowledged as modest progress by all sides, the budget accord offers hope that three years of extreme budget brinkmanship and partisan posturing are coming to an end. The defense bill includes provisions that will ease the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to countries willing to accept them – provisions the White House has long sought – as well as changes to how the military handles sexual assault cases.

    Sources: Washington Post, Al Jazeera, BBC, NPR

  4. Church Official’s Landmark Conviction for Sex Abuse Cover-Up Overturned

    A three-judge panel in Pennsylvania has unanimously overturned Monsignor William Lynn’s 2012 child endangerment conviction for his lax oversight of a child-molesting priest. The panel ruled that the law used to convict Msgr. Lynn – who has spent 18 months in prison – only applied to parents and direct caregivers, not supervisors like Lynn. The conviction had been considered a major landmark in holding not only those priests who engaged in child abuse responsible for their actions, but also in holding accountable those church officials who covered for them. The revocation will not affect legal proceedings in other states.

    Sources: NYT, NPR, CBS Philly


  1. How the Internet Beggars Belief

    Photographs of the Egyptian Pyramids and Sphinx under snow flooded the Internet in December when the capital city of Cairo received its first snowfall in 112 years. Much to the embarrassment of several major news sites, however, the images were a hoax, having been snapped in a theme park in Japan rather than Egypt. While the truth may be disappointing, it highlights a fundamental change in our relationship with the Internet: stories are considered true until proven otherwise. As our appetite for online news grows, it seems the skepticism many once held for the Internet as a communications tool is fading. Readers and editors alike must remember that seeing is not necessarily believing.

    Sources: Esquire

  2. Carnivorous Fish Attack Injures 70 in Argentina

    A school of carnivorous fish related to the piranha has attacked bathers in an Argentinean river, injuring 70. Paramedics were called to the scene and had to deal with injuries ranging from cuts and lesions to lost digits. Thousands of bathers had been cooling off in the Parana River in Rosario on Christmas Day when the incident occurred. An attack on this scale is unprecedented. “This is not normal. It’s normal for there to be an isolated bite or injury, but the magnitude in this case was great,” Federico Cornier, director of lifeguards in Rosario, said.

    Sources: BBC

  3. Fast Food Chain Takes Down Employee Resource Website

    McDonald’s has taken down its staff resource website amid controversies surrounding its content. The latest advice given to restaurant employees is to stop eating fast food because it is unhealthy. In a statement on their website, the company has attempted to distance itself from the site, describing it as having been “created by independent third party experts.” With employee wages as little as $11,000 a year, the website also advised staff to get out of holiday debt by selling unopened gifts on eBay. In a true corporate paradox, it seems the company website has been designed to offer McDonald’s employees offers Band-Aids for the very wounds it has created.

    Sources: Al Jazeera

  4. Survey Says Millennials Think Jay Z is a Big Phony

    If Jay Z has 99 problems, authenticity is definitely one of them. According to a recent survey, respondents ages 13 to 31 said that Jay Z’s partnership with Samsung for the release of his album ”Magna Carta Holy Grail” was the most disingenuous celebrity marketing deal of the year. The release comes on the heels of his Belafonte and Barney’s debacles. To millennials, the rap legend is more interested in making a quick buck than being an artist, and his dealings as a sports agent and NBA owner, and with Samsung aren’t helped by his album being something of a critical dud. Jay Z, surely, will cry all the way to the bank.

    Source: Business Insider

  5. 1993 NFL Team Had Two Gay Players, But Teammates Didn’t Care

    Two members of a 1993 playoff football team were gay, but we’re only finding out about it 20 years later because their Houston Oilers teammates didn’t care. While the players remain unnamed, teammates have not wavered in their support. “[They] were unbelievable teammates. And if you wanted to go to war with someone, you would get those guys first. Because I have never seen tougher guys than those guys,” former star linebacker Lamar Lathon said. In April, former player Brandon Ayanbadejo mentioned that a group of current NFL players were considering coming out as gay in unison.

    Sources: SI, The Houston Chronicle