The Presidential Daily Brief

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  1. Keyboard with magnifying glass on it

    Congress Hears Fresh Details in Russia Probe  

    The picture is getting clearer. “Fake news and propaganda” were the primary tools Russian cyberattackers used in an effort to influence the 2016 election, while the “scale and aggressiveness” of Russian meddling was unprecedented. That’s just some of what Congress heard Wednesday from current and former government officials as it continued its probe into Russia’s covert actions. A top Homeland Security official said there’s evidence the Kremlin took aim at election systems in 21 states — though no tallies were changed. And here’s another claim officials made: the Russians probably won’t stop any time soon.

     

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    GOP, Trump Fend Off Special Election Challenges

    Still no cigar. Republican Karen Handel withstood strong-polling Democrat Jon Ossoff to win Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, a longtime GOP stronghold. Handel’s 4-point victory is seen as a boon to President Donald Trump after opponents painted the contest as a referendum on his presidency, helping it balloon to a $50 million race, the most expensive House election ever. It’s another disappointment for Democrats, who have seen surprising gains in unlikely places like South Carolina, where their hopeful came within 3 points yesterday — but there’s still no fire accompanying that smoke.

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    Uber Investors Force CEO’s Resignation

    The ride’s over. Travis Kalanick, who founded the ride-sharing giant and steered it to global domination, resigned yesterday under pressure from investors. He’d recently taken a leave of absence, acknowledging his responsibility for multiple controversies, including a spate of harassment complaints and a resulting internal investigation that concluded new management was needed. Loss of market share didn’t help, and major shareholders such as venture capital firm Benchmark engineered Kalanick’s ouster. The board said he’s “always put Uber first,” but his departure would allow “room to fully embrace” the company’s new route.

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    Saudi King Replaces Crown Prince

    The sword’s been passed. King Salman, 81, has stripped his nephew, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, of his responsibilities and named his own son, Mohammed bin Salman, 31, as the new successor to the throne. With the kingdom engaged in a war in Yemen, which the young prince is directing as defense minister, and a diplomatic rift with Persian Gulf neighbor Qatar, the shake-up came as a surprise. But analysts say it clarifies Saudi Arabia’s future as it develops alternatives to its oil economy — something the new heir has promoted.

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    Attack Foiled in Brussels Central Station

    Authorities called it a failed terror attack. Police in Brussels yesterday fatally shot a man after he reportedly set off a small explosion at the city’s Central Station around 8:30 p.m. No civilians were injured, but the station was evacuated for the night. Police say the suspect has been identified as a 36-year-old Moroccan man who was known to authorities. Belgium has been on high alert since March 2016, when ISIS claimed responsibility for a devastating double attack on Zaventem airport and Brussels’ subway system that killed 32 people.

    Suspect Neutralized

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  6. Family Wishes, Dog Meat and the AHCA Returns

    Know This: Otto Warmbier’s family has declined an autopsy for their son, who died shortly after being released from North Korean custody. A controversial Chinese dog meat festival has kicked off, despite cancellation rumors. And the U.S. Senate’s expected to unveil its health care bill tomorrow after weeks of secrecy.

    Read This: Officials in Argentina have discovered a secret trove of dozens of Nazi artifacts, hidden behind a collector’s bookcase.

    Answer This: Tell us how you really feel. Our next TV show, Third Rail With OZY, is launching on PBS this fall! To kick things off, we’re shelving the PC and launching debates. Each Wednesday, we’ll post a provocative question, focusing on topics that might make it onto the show. This week: Does religion have a role to play in politics? Why or why not? Go deep. Email thirdrail@ozy.com with your thoughts or a personal story, and we might feature your answer next week.

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    Is Climate Change Grounding Planes?

    How hot was it? So hot that some aircraft couldn’t fly out of Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport, where temperatures hit a record-tying 119 degrees yesterday. It sounds crazy to laymen, but aviation engineers know that to get a commercial jet airborne, a lot of air molecules have to bounce off its wings. Hotter temperatures disperse those molecules, making the air thinner and necessitating more thrust. So flights of Bombardier CRJs, with an operating limit of 118 degrees, were grounded. As the globe warms, Southwestern airports may need to schedule more night flights.

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    The Rise of the Painter Drones

    They’re coloring our world. The future of industrial painting and coating — a $7.8 billion business in 2015 — may fall to the drone’s ever-expanding potential. In universities and startups around the world, flying robots are being designed to explore new industrial potential. While a number of technical hurdles still need to be cleared, remote-controlled drone painters could offer faster and safer options for problem jobs, suggesting that an industry with around 217,000 employees in the U.S. may want to invest in anti-aircraft defenses.

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    McDonald’s Bets on Slower Quarter Pounder

    Is it worth the wait? That’s what McDonald’s fans will be asking themselves as America’s top food chain continues its rollout of cooked-to-order Quarter Pounders made from fresh beef. They only take about a minute longer than pre-cooked frozen burgers, but that’s an eternity in fast food time, especially since McDonald’s reportedly already lags behind its competitors in delivery speed. Still, the chain hopes the fresh factor — currently in test markets, but going national next year — will improve sales and entice customers back to the golden arches.

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    Daniel Day-Lewis Announces Retirement From Acting

    He’s calling it a day. The British thespian’s latest project, an untitled Paul Thomas Anderson film due for release Dec. 25, will reportedly be his last. One of the world’s most accomplished actors, Day-Lewis has won a record three best actor Academy Awards on five nominations. This isn’t his first retirement, though. In the 1990s, he quit acting and spent five years learning shoemaking in Florence. Day-Lewis also quit the theater in 1989, famously walking out of Hamlet mid-performance, claiming to have seen his father’s ghost.

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    Once-Suicidal Ex-NFL Player Comes Out as Gay

    He’s stopped blocking. Former New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Ryan O’Callaghan has revealed how the struggle to come to terms with his sexuality drove him to the brink of suicide. He explained how an injury ended his five-year NFL career, precipitating an abuse of painkillers to cope with his secret. He’d even written a suicide note before a Chiefs counselor helped change his mind. Now O’Callaghan wants to help others struggling with similar issues connect with their community when the hits seem unbearable.