The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Iran Nuclear Agreement Will Take Effect in a Week

    The nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers negotiated in November will come into force on January 20. The six-month agreement centers around a plan to ease some U.S. and E.U. economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for Iran halting its enrichment of uranium above a 5 percent purity level. It is hoped that the framework will give negotiators time to develop a more lasting and comprehensive agreement, but a long-term deal is not guaranteed. President Obama has said he believes there is less than a “50-50” chance of reaching a comprehensive agreement, but he has vowed to prevent Iran from making nuclear weapons.

    Sources: BBC, NYT, USA Today

  2. Anti-Government Protesters Prepare to Shut Down Thai Capital

    Protesters in Bangkok have begun blockading major intersections of the Thai capital in a bid to shut down the city by paralyzing traffic, closing schools and potentially heralding a military coup. The anti-government demonstrators want to block traffic to the city of 10 million for as long as it takes to pressure Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra — whom they see as a puppet for her brother, the former prime minister — to step down. Authorities have deployed more than 14,000 troops to protect key sites in the city, and the army has promised to stay neutral. But in a country that has endured 18 military coups since the arrival of democracy, their word is not reassuring many.

    Sources: Al Jazeera, CNN, NY Times, The Guardian

  3. Feds Question Christie’s Use of Sandy Relief Funds

    Ads starring New Jersey Governor Chris Christie sought to reassure tourists that the famous shore was safe for frolicking after Hurricane Sandy’s damage. But now it looks like the governor will have to reassure investigators that $25 million wasn’t misused in the marketing campaign. The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s inspector general found enough issues in a preliminary review to launch a more thorough investigation into the Republican leader. With Christie already facing questions over a traffic-snarling bridge closure, this can’t be good news for the 2016 White House hopeful.

    Sources: USA Today, CNN

  4. Investors Cry for Argentina as Peso’s Value Hits Record Low

    Investors and economic analysts are increasingly uncertain about the future of South America’s second-largest economy. A record dip in the value of the peso and languishing foreign currency reserves have raised doubts about Argentina’s ability to meet its long-term debt obligations. These concerns are complicated by other economic challenges, including extremely high rates of inflation, estimated at 25 percent, and rising union demands for higher wages. The future of Argentina’s economy will largely depend on trade, but low soybean prices and an economic slowdown in Brazil, Argentina’s largest trade partner, could hinder this growth.

    Sources: WSJ (sub), The Economist

  5. Four Years After Earthquake, Haiti Still Suffers

    Haitians are attending remembrance ceremonies to pay tribute to the victims of the catastrophic earthquake that killed tens of thousands four years ago. Reminders of the tragedy are still visible throughout Haiti, where at least 1.5 million of its 10 million people were left homeless on Jan. 12, 2010. Despite the remarkable humanitarian efforts, 150,000 Haitians still live in housing settlements. Due to the financial crisis, the number of donations has been severally reduced, and reconstruction work has been dragging. See Ozy’s look at what remains to be done.

    Sources: NPR, BBC


  1. Wombs Successfully Transplanted into Nine Swedish Women

    The women will soon try to get pregnant, doctors say, after the first surgeries of their kind have been declared a success. Several patients had rejection issues, but all left the hospital within days of their procedures. The surgeries generated some controversy because the organs came from live donors, and the wombs will be removed after two pregnancies so the patients can go off the heavy anti-rejection medication — if the pregnancies go to term. 

    Source: AP

  2. ‘12 Years a Slave,’ ‘American Hustle’ and ‘Breaking Bad’ Win Big at Golden Globes

    Let the Oscar predictions begin. Despite seven nominations, 12 Years a Slave won just one Golden Globe, but it was best motion picture drama. American Hustle won for best musical or comedy, with acting awards for Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence. The biggest surprise was Matthew McConnaughey’s award for Dallas Buyers Club. For television, it was a good night for Breaking Bad and SNL vets, with the final season of Walter White’s plight nabbing best drama and best actor awards while Amy Poehler and Andy Samberg both won comedy awards. Best red carpet moment? Jennifer Lawrence photobombing Taylor Swift.

    Sources: LA Times, Entertainment Weekly

  3. Pope Looks Beyond the Usual Suspects to Appoint New Cardinals

    Pope Francis has announced the appointment of his first 19 cardinals, and the list revealed his continuing push for reform of Vatican culture and institutions. Bypassing the archbishops of major Italian cities and major department heads in the Roman curia, who often become cardinals, Francis instead appointed leaders from countries like Haiti, Burkina Faso, and South Korea. In all, 10 of the new cardinals hail from Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, and Africa. The nominees’ backgrounds also demonstrate Francis’ preference for those who had spent long years working as priests in the more pastoral style he favors.

    Sources: NYT, LA Times

  4. French First Lady Hospitalized after Reports of Husband’s Affair

    Valérie Trierweiler, French President Hollande’s partner and de facto first lady, was admitted to the hospital after learning that Hollande has been having an affair with an actress with alleged mafia ties. Though France is notorious for its liberal attitude towards sexuality, Trierweiler’s spokesperson, Patrice Biancone, has described the event as “a big emotional shock.” The revelation should do little to revive the public’s faith in Hollande, whose approval rating hit a post-war low of 15 percent in August. He faces the media scrum in a previously scheduled press conference tomorrow. 

    Sources: NY Times, BBC, The Guardian

  5. Are Comic Book Characters Commentary on Discrimination, or a Product of It?

    While the comic book genre has often been used as means to highlight controversial political and social issues, artist Orion Martin believes that those on the receiving end of discrimination are often marginalized. Take the X-Men franchise, which has spawned four movies and thousands of devout followers. Though the characters’ status as marginalized figures may align their struggle with that of the black equality movement, their own racial make-up is surprisingly monochrome. Cultural academic Neil Shyminsky goes so far as to argue that “X-Men has not only failed to adequately redress issues of inequality — it actually reinforces inequality.”

    Source: NPR

  6. Manning Aims to Beat Brady in Broncos Super Bowl Bid

    Denver quarterback Peyton Manning has gotten his revenge for the Broncos’ November loss to San Diego by dismissing the Chargers in the AFC divisional playoff, 24-17. But if Manning wants to make to his first Super Bowl with Denver, his third ever, he’ll have take down his old rival, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, next Sunday. When the teams last faced off in November, the Patriots walked away with the win, but the Broncos are looking for payback. If the win over the Chargers is any indication, Brady may just get a run for his money.

    Sources: USA Today, ESPN