The Presidential Daily Brief

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    Russia, FBI in Crosshairs as Campaign Enters Final Week

    The Cold War’s back. While the FBI has been investigating Donald Trump’s campaign for Russian ties, it says there could be a harmless explanation for back-channel server communications between the Trump Organization and Russian bank Alfa. And Russian hacking, they’ve concluded, is likely more about disrupting democracy than swinging the election. Now Democrats are blasting Director James Comey for blabbing about Hillary Clinton’s emails but not its Trump inquiries. Meanwhile, Democrats in four key states are suing to block anticipated Election Day “intimidation” by Trump-inspired poll watchers.

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    Iraqi Forces Reach Mosul, Call for ISIS to Surrender

    “Either they surrender or they die.” So said Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who appeared on state TV wearing combat gear and calling on the estimated thousands of ISIS fighters remaining in Mosul to lay down arms as Iraqi forces prepared to enter the city. Iraqi officials said no soldiers had been killed during a push through the last villages on the city’s outskirts, but many expect the final assault on Mosul to take weeks or months as soldiers fight their way through each house and neighborhood.

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    The Mystery of Colombia’s Zika Outbreak

    The epidemic is waning. Now health professionals are investigating why Colombia, which suffered the world’s second-largest Zika outbreak, didn’t see a corresponding rise in the birth defects linked to the disease. Brazil, with the largest outbreak, saw thousands of babies born with microcephaly, but Colombia has reported fewer than 50, though hundreds were expected. That may be due to Colombia’s relatively progressive abortion laws, which allowed women diagnosed with Zika to terminate pregnancies — and it could prompt reconsideration of restrictive abortion laws in nearby nations struggling with similar epidemics.

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    Bank of Japan Alters Inflation Expectations

    They’re not pulling out the big guns yet. Japan’s economy has been struggling, and now the central bank, which initially promised to hit a target of 2 percent inflation by 2015, says it won’t get there until at least fiscal year 2018. While bank chief Haruhiko Kuroda is known for his full-speed-ahead approach to fiscal stimulus, that’s not yet in evidence — which some are taking as a sign that the Bank of Japan’s following a global trend of increased pragmatism on the part of central banks.

  5. Estonia’s Army, Peter Thiel’s Legal Theory and Your Election Predictions

    Know This:  Mark Carney will stay at the helm of the Bank of England through 2019 — the year Britain’s expected to leave the EU. Estonia is training its citizens to fight. And Human Rights Watch has accused Nigerian officials of sexually abusing women on the run from Boko Haram.

    He Said What? “If you’re middle class, if you’re upper-middle-class, if you’re a single-digit millionaire like Hulk Hogan, you have no effective access to our legal system. It costs too much,” said billionaire Trump supporter Peter Thiel, who backed Hogan in a privacy lawsuit that bankrupted Gawker media, to the National Press Club.

    Check This Out: OZY wants your prognosis on the presidential race. Make your prediction now and check back Nov. 9 to see who agreed with you — and how close you were to reality.

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    How Bush and Obama Mastered the Political Game

    They ran the chess board. While miles apart in upbringing and ideology, George W. Bush and Barack Obama both combined natural political talents with technological tools and ruthless exploitation of the political climate to propel them to the presidency. As OZY’s The Contenders: 16 for ’16 (8 p.m., PBS) explores tonight, Bush and Obama deployed keen strategists like Karl Rove and David Plouffe to identify and maximize turnout of base voters — and maneuver their way into two terms apiece in the White House to shape this young century.

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    Study: Uber Drivers Discriminate Against Black Passengers

    Apps are not colorblind. A study of 1,500 rides on Uber, Lyft and Flywheel by the National Bureau of Economic Research found statistically significant longer wait times for Black people for UberX rides, and Boston Uber drivers were more than twice as likely to cancel a ride on someone with a “Black-sounding name.” Women also dealt with longer-than-necessary rides. There was some evidence of discrimination among Lyft drivers and none for Flywheel. Uber called the study “helpful” in determining how the company can further reduce transportation inequality.

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    UNICEF: 300 Million Children at Serious Risk From Air Pollution

    We’re reaching a crisis point. A new report estimates that air pollution factors into the deaths of 600,000 children under five annually, and that 300 million youngsters are currently breathing “extremely toxic” air. Investigators used satellite images, then correlated affected areas with child population numbers. Air pollution is especially harmful for young children, causing permanent brain damage and skyrocketing infant mortality rates. UNICEF says that urban South Asia has the most concentrated problems, and has urged major cities to rethink how they’re managing the effects of industrialization.

  4. Books

    High-Profile Authors Lock Up New Writing for a Century

    What’s worse than waiting a year for the next Harry Potter? Pre-ordering new books from Margaret Atwood and David Mitchell for delivery 98 years from now. The writers are the first contributors to the Future Library, a public art project in which famous authors seal the only copies of unseen manuscripts in a vault in Oslo, to be opened by unknown readers in 2114. The next contributor to the literary time capsule, Icelandic author Sjón, says it’s also a way of preserving modern language, come what may.

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    Murray Could Overtake Djokovic This Week for Top Ranking

    Who’s No. 1? With wins in 52 of his last 56 matches, Scotland’s Andy Murray has been steadily gaining on the world’s top tennis player — but Novak Djokovic isn’t ceding the crown just yet. “It makes me want to go on court and fight for every point,” the slumping Serb, 29, says. He can hold onto the top slot if he makes the finals in this week’s Paris Masters. But if Djokovic falls short, another title for Murray would unseat the 12-time Grand Slam champion.