Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 19, 2016

Harold Maass
Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images


China's economy grows at slowest rate in 25 years

China reported Tuesday that in 2015 its economy grew at its slowest pace in 25 years. China's economy expanded by 6.9 percent in 2015, down from a rate of 7.3 percent in 2014. China is a major driver of the world economy, and its slowdown has raised fears of a global downturn. The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday cut its forecast for global growth and projected that China's growth would slow to 6.3 percent in 2016. Still, investors appeared relieved that the figures were close to forecasts, and that China was expected to add more economic stimulus money. China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index gained 3.25 percent by the close of trading.


Iran nearly undermined prisoner swap at last minute

The carefully negotiated prisoner swap that freed Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian almost unraveled at the last minute when Iranian authorities suddenly tried to keep his wife and mother from leaving with him. U.S. officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, insisted, and finally Iranian authorities relented and let the women leave on a plane to Europe with Rezaian and two other former prisoners. Washington Post editors met with Rezaian at a hospital near Ramstein Air Base in Germany, and said he looked good after nearly 18 months in an Iranian prison. Rezaian said he wanted people to know that "physically I’m feeling good."


Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett Smith boycotting the Oscars

Filmmaker Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith announced separately on Monday that they would boycott the Feb. 25 Academy Awards ceremony because of the lack of diversity among the nominees. No black actor has been nominated for two years in a row. Lee received an honorary lifetime Oscar in November. Jada Pinkett Smith's husband, Will Smith, had been considered a Best Actor contender this year for his role in Concussion, but he was overlooked. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said she was "heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion," and promised a recruitment effort to boost diversity in the Academy's membership.


University of Cincinnati to pay $4.85 million to family of man killed by officer

The University of Cincinnati announced Monday that it would pay $4.85 million under an out-of-court settlement to the family of Sam DuBose, an unarmed black man who was fatally shot in the head last year by a white university police officer during a routine traffic stop. Under the agreement, the university also will provide free undergraduate education to 12 of DuBose's children. The officer, Ray Tensing, fired the fatal shot as DuBose tried to drive away. Tensing was fired and has been charged with murder. He says he shot because he was being dragged alongside DuBose's car.


Pentagon offers first details on Iran's detention of U.S. sailors

Iranian soldiers took two SIM cards before returning two handheld satellite phones to 10 U.S. sailors and releasing them last week, the Pentagon said Monday. Iran returned everything else they seized, including weapons, ammunition, equipment, and the two small Navy boats the sailors were using to travel from Kuwait to Bahrain. Iran detained the sailors for 15 hours after one of the boats experienced technical problems. The Pentagon is investigating and says it is not clear whether or not the crew realized the boats had entered Iranian waters.


Avalanche kills five soldiers in France

An avalanche in the French Alps killed five French Foreign Legion soldiers who were backcountry skiing in a training session on Monday. Six other people were injured, two seriously, said Jean-Claude Raffin, mayor of the nearby town of Modane. The deadly avalanche came just days after another avalanche swept away a school group, killing three people, including two students.


Protesters vow to stop Haiti's presidential run-off

Protesters attacked election offices in Haiti on Monday, throwing rocks, setting fires, and demanding the suspension of a presidential run-off vote scheduled for Jan. 24. Tensions have risen since opposition candidate Jude Celestin said he would withdraw because of irregularities believed to have favored ruling-party candidate Jovenel Moise. The protesters vowed to block the vote and called for a provisional government to take over when President Michel Martelly leaves office so new elections can be arranged. Moise urged Haitians to vote on Sunday, calling the election a "turning point" for the Caribbean nation's democracy.


Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey dies at 67

Singer and guitarist Glenn Frey, a co-founder of the Eagles, died Monday of complications from rheumatoid arthritis, pneumonia, and acute ulcerative colitis, the band announced in a statement. He was 67. "Words can neither describe our sorrow, nor our love and respect for all that he has given to us, his family, the music community, and millions of fans worldwide," the band said.


Penthouse to end its print edition

Penthouse announced Monday that it was ending the publication of its print magazine after a 50-year run. "This move will keep Penthouse competitive in the future and will seamlessly combine our unmatched pictorial features and editorial content with our video and broadcast offerings," said Jonathan Buckheit, CEO of FriendFinder, parent company of the men's magazine. The move came after Playboy announced in October that February 2016 would be its last issue with nude photos.


David Bowie posthumously lands first No. 1 album

David Bowie's last album, Blackstar, debuted at number one on the Billboard charts. The album has sold 174,000 copies since its release two days before the innovative rock star died of cancer on Jan. 10, according to Nielsen Music. Blackstar is the first of Bowie's albums to hit the top of the charts. Last week was the biggest sales week ever for his music. The greatest hits collection Best of Bowie also shot up the charts, landing at number four with 94,000 copies sold.

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