The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. CVS Will No Longer Sell Tobacco Products

    It’s a bold move for one of the largest American pharmacy chains, which figures to lose $2 billion in sales a year when it removes cigarettes and other products from the shelves. But the long-term benefits could outweigh the cold-turkey pain. Smokes aren’t exactly a growth industry, with sales continuing a downward trend by falling 4 percent last year. The anti-tobacco decision could lead to new business partnerships for CVS with hospitals, insurers and others. Not to mention a flood of positive press.

    Sources: WSJ, National Journal

  2. UN Slams the Vatican Over Abusive Priests

    A damning report says the Catholic Church put priests’ reputation above the best interest of kids who were abused, and called on the Holy See to “immediately remove all known and suspected child sexual abusers.” The Vatican also needs to establish guidelines for turning child abuse cases over to civil authorities, the UN says. The church called the report distorted and unfair, saying it interferes with church affairs. Not exactly the message victims’ advocates wanted to hear, even as they cheered the UN committee.

    Sources: The Guardian, Reuters

  3. Korean Leaders Agree to Family Reunions

    War-divided families will reunite briefly this month thanks to a deal between North and South Korea. The last time these families, divided by the 1950s war, were able to meet was three years ago. This welcome development comes in the wake of a year of political tension stemming from the North’s third nuclear test. Kim Jong-un is still chafing over military exercises between the South and the U.S., but Seoul has refused to halt the drills, which it considers preparation for a possible invasion. So while divided Korean families get to meet face-to-face, it doesn’t mean their leaders will ever see eye-to-eye.

    Sources: BBCDW

  4. U.S. Exoneration Level Hits All-Time High

    The number of exonerations for wrongful convictions in the U.S. has reached a historic high, with 87 people walking free from prison in 2013, including one man from death row. Surprisingly, almost a third of those exonerated were convicted of crimes that, close examination showed, did not occur in the first place. While the increase in exonerations hints at mistakes being made, it could also mean the judicial system is becoming better at revising such cases. 

    Sources: NYT, BBC

  5. UN Report Points to Abuse of Children in Syria

    President Assad’s regime and the opposition are both to blame for violations against children, a new UN report contends. It says that young people have been used as soldiers and human shields, and while under arrest they have reportedly suffered abuse alongside adults. The study says the abuse included beatings and sexual violence. With a death toll of more than 100,000 since the conflict began in early 2011, reports of child abuse cast another shadow over the prospects for peace in the region. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has condemned the regime’s use of barrel bombing raids in Aleppo.

    Sources: NYTAl Jazeera, BBC

  6. Feds Rescue Teens From Forced Prostitution Before Super Bowl

    Youths as young as 13 were among 16 juveniles and more than 50 women freed from forced prostitution in the run-up to the NFL championship’s festivities. The FBI also nabbed more than 45 pimps, some of whom admitted trying to traffic the women for the Super Bowl. The crackdown was the culmination of months of work that saw local hospitals and airport workers trained to spot signs of sex trafficking. While Seattle ruled the field over Denver on Sunday, it seems the FBI was racking up a few points of its own.

    Source: USA Today

  7. Four Arrested After Hoffman’s Death, Gay Rights Activists Take Aim at Russian Government

    UN slams Vatican over protecting child-abusing priests. (BBC).

    Four suspects reportedly detained in Hoffman death inquiry. (BBC).

    Gay rights protests target Russian government before Sochi Games. (BBC).

    Stalemate grips Ukraine after failed bid to curb presidential power. (DW).

    France launches landmark trial on Rwandan genocide. (NYT). 

    U.S. Senate passes farm bill. (The Guardian).


  1. U.S. Offers Golden Hello to China’s Super-Wealthy

    Amid an ever-growing crackdown on corruption, many rich Chinese are going to the U.S. to secure brighter futures. The conclusions of the Hurun Report, or China’s rich list, show a startling picture of the emigration of Chinese millionaires. Of the 393 people surveyed, 64 percent of those defined as wealthy (who have $1.6 million or more) have left the country or are planning to do so, and 33 percent of the super-wealthy (with $16 million or more) have established homes elsewhere. The U.S. is also the favorite destination for Chinese university students wanting to study abroad. 

    Source: Global Post

  2. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on the Rise in the U.S. 

    Researchers at a hospital in Chicago have discovered that 43 percent of those admitted for violent injuries, such as stabbings or shootings, displayed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Previous studies have suggested that as many as 8 percent of Americans will suffer from PTSD at some point in their lives. The disorder is commonly seen in returning service personnel who have been affected by the trauma of war, but the research highlights the effects of America’s violent streets. While soldiers are increasingly getting more help for PTSD, little support is available for civilians.

    Source: Pro Publica

  3. McDonald’s Wants to Show World its Golden Nuggets

    The fast-food chain is looking to polish its image by showing how it makes chicken nuggets. The offensive comes in the wake of the “pink goop” controversy, which purported to show what they were really made of. New footage takes viewers behind the scenes in McDonald’s plants, starring good-looking employees in environments so clean as to make hospitals envious. McDonald’s sales in the U.S. are stagnant, so the restaurant is trying to boost its image by lifting the veil. The question is whether the film will help the chain rule the roost or send it from the frying pan into the fire.

    Source: Bloomberg

  4. Fab Two Make Comeback in America 50 Years Later

    The invasion began 50 years ago, and John F. Kennedy International Airport — the Beatles’ port of entry — gets to star in the weeklong celebration commemorating the band’s 1964 arrival in America. A historical marker will be unveiled at JFK on Friday at the spot where the Beatles gave their first U.S. press conference. “Beatles Week” culminates with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr in a reunion concert. The show will be broadcast on Feb. 9, exactly 50 years to the day of the group’s first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

    Sources: Rolling StoneNY Daily News

  5. Retired NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady Tries Hand at Baseball

    McGrady is set to play out a lifelong dream — on the baseball field. In a move straight out of Michael Jordan’s playbook, T-Mac will take a shot at minor league baseball by trying out for the Sugar Land Skeeters, a team Roger Clemens once pitched for. McGrady retired from the NBA last August after scoring more than 18,000 points and netting 5,000 rebounds. Rumor has it T-Mac can throw a 90mph fastball. Trading in hoops for home runs might not be such a bad idea after all.

    Sources: ESPNSports Illustrated