The Presidential Daily Brief

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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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    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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    Sources:
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    Syria Deteriorates Into Potential US-Russia Flashpoint

    The enemy of my enemy is my enemy. By shooting down a Syrian military plane on Sunday, then a regime drone on Tuesday, the United States is thrusting itself deeper into that country’s seemingly endless civil war. With these attacks, and in conjuction with an April 7 missile strike on a Syrian air base, Washington risks escalation on multiple fronts, even though eliminating ISIS is its official objective. It’s enough to scare away stalwart allies like Australia, which has suspended Syrian air sorties after Russia warned that America’s strike on the Syrian jet had made all coalition aircraft its targets.

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    American Student Dies Days After North Korean Release

    He’s “completed his journey home.” So said the family of Otto Warmbier, 22, who died Monday of unknown causes a week after his release from a North Korean prison. Arrested in January 2016 while on a tour, Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years for allegedly stealing a sign. He arrived “unresponsive” with brain damage in Ohio last Tuesday after what Pyongyang called a 15-month coma. President Donald Trump called Warmbier’s death a “disgrace,” but with North Korea already sanctioned and isolated, there’s little short of war that America can do.

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    Justices Take on Partisan Gerrymandering Case

    Will they reapportion the issue? The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider constitutional limits on how parties in power draw legislative districts to disadvantage their opposition. Gerrymandering is as old as the republic — Patrick Henry did it — and the high court has previously only intervened when it dilutes minority representation. But now the Supreme Court will step in after three federal judges ruled against a Wisconsin redistricting that they said was so partisan it violated constituents’ rights to equal representation by giving one party a disproportionate advantage.

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    Barclays Faces Crisis-Era Criminal Charges

    Are they coming home to roost? After a five-year investigation into events during the 2008 financial crisis, Britain’s Serious Fraud Office has filed criminal charges against Barclays, four former executives and an affiliated holding company. The case involves $8.1 billion raised from Middle Eastern investors — the very cash that propped the bank up without a government bailout. Regulators charge that Barclays was lending to itself illegally, evidenced by large undisclosed payments to Qatari investors. It’s the first such criminal case, and caused Barclays shares to drop in European trading.

  7. Georgia’s Big Decision, Paris Attack and Muslim Girl’s ‘Road Rage’ Murder

    Know This: In the most expensive House race ever and a contest seen as a test of GOP strength, voters in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District will cast ballots today to fill Tom Price’s former seat. An attacker who rammed a police vehicle and fatally shot a policeman in Paris yesterday carried a Kalashnikov, handguns and gas canisters. And NASA’s Kepler telescope has discovered 219 new exoplanets, including 10 Earth-like worlds.

    Quote This: “This murder is yet another wake-up call in the chain of events of Muslim women viciously attacked in hate crimes across the country.” So said the Women’s Initiative for Self Empowerment of the baseball bat murder of a 17-year-old Muslim girl that local Virginia authorities are attributing to “road rage.”

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    Nearly 200 Million US Voter Records Exposed

    It might be the worst breach ever. But this one was accidental: Some 198 million voter records were left unsecured by a Republican National Committee-contracted marketing firm. Stored on a publicly accessible Amazon cloud server, the data reportedly includes names, birth dates, addresses, phone numbers and political profiles on possibly every registered U.S. voter going back more than a decade. Security experts noted that a misconfigured server was to blame for leaving the data vulnerable, demonstrating that amid rising foreign cyberassault fears, the worst injuries can be self-inflicted.

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    Carrie Fisher’s Drug Use Was No Private Matter

    Was it “none of our damn business?” One Twitter post spoke for many grieving fans, suggesting the frenzy surrounding yesterday’s postmortem toxicology report was inappropriate. But others say it’s what Fisher would have wanted — for people to know there was evidence of cocaine, methadone, ecstasy, alcohol, opiates and antidepressants in her system when she died Dec. 27. Fisher was a vocal advocate for substance abuse and mental illness awareness, often documenting her own struggles. As her brother noted, “Without her drugs, maybe she would have left long ago.”

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    Whole Foods and Amazon, Sittin’ in a Tree

    Get a room! After last week’s $13.7 billion deal with online giant Amazon, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey couldn’t stop raving about the company’s dreamy suitor. Calling it “love at first sight,” he described meeting with Amazon counterparts on a “blind date” six weeks ago, how they talked for two and a half hours and “could’ve talked for 10.” Mackey reassured his staff that the two companies, whose merger promises to disrupt the grocery industry, aren’t in “a Tinder relationship” — meaning it’s a match made in investor heaven.

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    How Oregon Got Millennials to Polling Places

    Do they even know what a “bandwagon” is? New programs aimed at registering and educating young, disaffected and self-disenfranchised voters are proving hugely successful in the Beaver State. Efforts like the Bus Project, which saw dozens of registration-boosting volunteers crisscrossing rural areas, are credited with 2016’s 57 percent turnout among 18-to-29-year-olds, up from a dismal 37 percent in 2012. Together with new motor-voter legislation that automatically registers Oregonians, the program’s success is prompting other states, like Montana, Colorado and Texas, to jump on.

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    Washington’s NFL Franchise Lauds ‘Slants’ Legal Victory

    Their offensive strategy is similar. Thanks to a unanimous Supreme Court ruling, the NFL franchise named for a Native American slur can take comfort that they’re in, er, similar company. The justices ruled for the free speech rights of Asian-American dance rock band The Slants, saying they couldn’t be denied a trademark simply because their name is a derogatory racial nickname. Daniel Snyder, who owns the NFL team, wrote, “I am THRILLED!” Now the team’s expected to win a reversal of the 2014 cancellation of its federal trademark for “Redskins.”