The Presidential Daily Brief

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    Comey Reportedly Refutes Trump’s Wiretapping Claim

    It didn’t happen. That’s what FBI Director James Comey reportedly said of President Donald Trump’s Twitter outburst alleging that “Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower” before the election. Sources say Comey’s asked the Justice Department to publicly reject Trump’s claim, which echoes a Breitbart story published Friday. James Clapper, intelligence chief during the election, emphatically denied it, and former President Obama’s spokesman called the accusation “simply false.” The dispute may now go to Congress, which Trump has asked to probe the purported bugging while investigating Russian interference in November’s election.

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    Clashes Break Out as Presidential Supporters ‘March 4 Trump’

    “We’re gonna take our country back.” That was how one North Carolina demonstrator put it during Saturday’s Spirit of America/March 4 Trump, a day of rallies supporting the president in an estimated 28 states, marred by lackluster turnout compared to earlier opposition protests and a skirmish in leftist bastion Berkeley that left seven injured and ended in 10 arrests. The president stopped his motorcade outside his Florida Mar-a-Lago resort to wave at one of the demonstrations, whose organizers describe presidential detractors as a “seditious fringe,” pointing to growing political polarization.

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    Could This Be Trump’s Vodygate?

    Trouble never comes alone. In Washington, that Russian proverb resonated with the revelation that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had — contrary to his Senate confirmation testimony — met twice with Moscow’s ambassador. So he’s recused himself from investigating administration links to Russian election meddling, and now echoes of Hillary Clinton’s email woes have surfaced in Vice President Mike Pence’s use of his private AOL account, which was hacked, to conduct official business as Indiana’s governor. As Democrats agitate for an independent investigation, the spotlight turns to Dana Boente, the acting deputy attorney general — and prior Obama appointee.

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    Women’s Strike Seeks to Energize Trump Opposition

    Will doing nothing be a struggle? On Wednesday — International Women’s Day — anti-Trump forces are planning something unprecedented: a gender-specific U.S. general strike, with women taking the day off from job and household responsibilities. It’s also global, advocates say, but some question its feasibility. If women are more concerned about nurturing their careers and kids than they are about equality, the event, envisioned as the successor to the massive post-inauguration Women’s March, might end up taking the air out of the very movement it aims to renew.

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    The Leftist Martyr of Europe’s Alt-Rightists

    Islam was their enemy. That’s about all Geert Wilders — whose Party for Freedom’s expected to make major gains in the Netherlands’ March 15 elections — and Pim Fortuyn, the country’s founder of modern populism, have in common. Fortuyn ran a groundbreaking 2002 anti-Muslim campaign, and his self-styled party came in second — nine days after he was assassinated. Unlike his similarly intolerant successors, he supported a welfare state and women’s rights and was unabashedly gay. And yet his ill-fated career will likely loom large in political history if populists prevail across Europe this year.

    Populist Progenitor

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    Deterrence, Death and Desperation on the Border

    There’s blood in the sand. Evidence from decades of harshening policies along the U.S.-Mexico border suggests one thing: Migrants will cross anyway. Just 18 percent of the 1,954-mile border is effectively fenced, but illegal entry remains a deadly endeavor. Between 2000 and 2014, some 2,721 died trying to cross into Southern Arizona alone. Meanwhile, new deterrence measures have had little impact on crossing numbers. And with new enforcement verve, many observers worry that official violence — like the bullets that killed a 16-year-old in 2012 at the border in Nogales — could spread.

  7. Famine Feared as 110 Die During Somali Drought, Gunman Shoots Sikh Man Near Seattle and City Authorities Hail Uber’s Ghosts

    Know This:  At least 110 people have died in two days in drought-plagued Somalia, where famine is feared. A gunman who reportedly said “go back to your own country” shot a Sikh man, injuring him in his driveway near Seattle. And China has cut its target for growth, already the lowest it’s been in 26 years.

    Share This: “Uber had tagged (Portland, Ore.) city officials … then served up a fake version of the (Uber) app, populated with ghost cars, to evade capture.” — An example of how the ridesharing giant has “long flouted laws and regulations to gain an edge against entrenched transportation providers.”  

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    The Seniors Saving South Africa

    Grandma’s grants don’t cut it. On South Africa’s Eastern Cape, nearly 11 percent of households are run by women over 60. They raise grandchildren on meager monthly pensions and child-support grants, often living without running water or electricity, and eke out incomes from gardening and baking while relying on a network of elderly peers. With many husbands lost to murder or work hazards, these women are vulnerable to theft in a region plagued by pervasive unemployment. Even so, such matriarchs offer a universal lesson in survival, of how innovation can lift families despite crushing poverty.

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    Tapping the Future of Marketing

    They’ve located their niche. Despite Foursquare’s rapid drop from social media’s big league, its demise was greatly exaggerated. With a trove of highly accurate location-based data – it claims 11 billion definitive check-ins at 100 million places over seven years – Foursquare is monetizing an augmented map of people’s movements via business predictions and analysis, and it’s caught the attention of marketers worldwide. As the company makes gains by accruing and sharing data, security and privacy concerns over collecting “location trails” are mounting, along with awareness that marketers can easily individualize “anonymized” data.

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    US Volcanoes Aren’t Adequately Monitored

    Who knew there was an “us” in Vesuvius? There are at least 169 volcanoes across the U.S., with 55 believed to be threatening their surrounding populations. Only a few are closely monitored, while most are not, and volcanologists say that’s a major problem. Because eruptions are relatively rare, those who live near them tend to become complacent, assuming scientists are watching for warning signs. Now three senators are introducing legislation to improve observation and data about America’s volcanoes, and hopefully save lives when the next one blows — spewing fire and brimstone on those with misplaced faith.

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    The Rise of BKChat LDN

    They will “lie to you” and “diss you.” BKChat LDN, a viral YouTube sensation, is drawing praise for its authenticity and criticism for its unmitigated sexist dialogue. Created by Andy Amadi, a British-Nigerian film and TV graduate from London’s Brunel University, the series is self-funded and unscripted and features raucous debate between five men and five women over issues from infidelity to plastic surgery. These young Black Brits who speak like they would at home — without editing — are eliciting strong reactions from participants, one of whom stormed off the set while shooting, and audiences alike.

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    Faith in the Cubs Depends on Baseball Numerology

    Some models aren’t pretty. Despite Chicago’s historic 2016 World Series win, season, some mathematical projections may be selling the team short this year. But some stats indicate continued dominance: Last season, the Baby Bears limited opposing teams to .255 average runs on balls in play. Putting that into perspective, the difference between an average MLB team and the Cubs is like the gap between the major and minor leagues. And with a roster of core players heading into their prime years, some number crunchers say the odds of success are something to behold.