The Presidential Daily Brief

important

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    Playboy Founder Hugh Hefner Dead at 91

    It’s an end of an era. The founder of Playboy, the adult magazine created in 1953 that featured naked women and occasionally great journalism, was found dead at the age of 91. Hefner was known as a symbol of the sexual revolution of the 1960s and both criticized and commended by feminists. His Playboy mansion, the scene of many a licentious party (or least rumor) was sold for $100 million in August with the caveat he be allowed to live there – which he did until his death.

     

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    Trump Launches Tax Reform Effort

    He’s talking returns, just not his own. After two failures to replace Obamacare, President Donald Trump today announced his plan to overhaul and lower federal income taxes. Calling it a “revolutionary change”  benefiting middle class workers the most, Trump proposed eliminating estate taxes, doubling the standard deduction, cutting tax rate brackets from seven to three and cutting the corporate rate from 35 to 20 percent. It leaves setting bracket income levels and a fourth-bracket option for preserving higher rates for the wealthy to Congress, which the administration’s pushing to pass a tax bill this year.

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    Kurdistan Independence Vote Roils Iraq

    The other shoe’s dropping. Nearly 93 percent of Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan region’s voters chose independence in Monday’s referendum, today’s count shows. That’s stoked yet another Middle East crisis, with Iraq’s parliament demanding that Iraqi troops be dispatched to northern oil fields and the city of Kirkuk — now under Kurdish control, while Kurdish officials intend to begin secession negotiations. Neighboring Turkey and Iran, with their own fractious Kurdish populations, also oppose independence, as does the U.S., although the State Department said its relationship with the Kurds, whom it’s armed to battle ISIS, wouldn’t change.

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    Trump-Backed Alabama Senate Candidate Loses Primary

    Sometimes Moore is more. Though President Donald Trump threw his weight behind incumbent Sen. Luther Strange, Roy Moore, an evangelical Christian who was suspended twice while serving as Alabama’s chief justice, clinched the nomination instead. Several of Trump’s tweets supporting Strange and predicting a win subsequently disappeared. Moore is expected to win the Dec. 12 election against Democrat Doug Jones. He’s promised to challenge Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — who suffered another defeat yesterday with the collapse of his latest attempt to repeal Obamacare — and pursue a radical anti-establishment agenda.

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    Thailand’s Ex-PM Sentenced to Five Years in Prison

    She’s long gone. A court in Thailand has handed down a verdict on former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, sentencing her to five years for her role in a rice subsidy scheme that lost billions. Shinawatra, who was democratically elected but deposed three years ago in a military coup, was last seen Aug. 25. Her lawyer maintains he doesn’t know where she is, but reports suggest she’s fled the country. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha said yesterday that he knows Shinawatra’s location, but won’t disclose it until after today’s hearing.

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    Trump Says He Will ‘Fix’ North Korean ‘Mess’

    It’s a war of words … for now. President Trump reiterated Tuesday that a military strike isn’t the “preferred option” for dealing with Pyongyang, but he’s prepared for one — and the result would be “devastating.” But despite weeks of belligerent rhetoric, analysts say there’s little evidence that North Korea is preparing its military assets for war. While the U.S. issues new economic sanctions against the rogue nation, North Korean agents have reportedly been reaching out to Republican-linked analysts in Washington to get a better sense of Trump’s strategy.

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    Saudi Arabia to Allow Women to Drive

    And it only took a century. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has issued a royal decree granting women the right to drive beginning next June. Preventing women from taking the wheel, along with other patriarchal policies like male guardianship of female citizens, has hurt the kingdom’s international image. Recently named royal heir Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, is thought to have pushed for such liberalization. But issues like how police will deal with drivers in a society where unrelated men and women rarely interact suggest there’s a bumpy road ahead.

  8. Macron’s Vision, a Killer Clown and Rockets Over Kabul

    Know This: In an address yesterday, French President Emmanuel Macron called for greater European cooperation — and less dependence on the United States. The U.S. Supreme Court has stayed the execution of a Georgia inmate after claims of racial bias during his trial. And police have arrested a 54-year-old woman in connection with a cold case in which the murderer wore a clown costume.

    Welcome Rockets: The Taliban says it targeted arriving U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis as he arrived on surprised visit, but no damage or injuries were reported from the artillery barrage on the city’s airport. There were, however, reported civilian casualties in the Kabul area when a U.S. missile supporting Afghan troops responding to the earlier attack ended up on a mistaken trajectory.

    Hear This: In its first full day, OZY’s newest podcast, The Thread, made its way into the top 25 podcasts on Apple’s charts. If you haven’t heard episode 1 yet, give it a listen — and let us know what you think at podcasts@ozy.com.

intriguing

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    Ukraine’s Radical Infrastructure Fix: Empower Locals

    They’re sharing the wealth. Rural Ukraine has long shipped off taxes and revenue — first to Moscow, then Kiev after independence in 1991 — without getting much in return, leaving small towns to crumble. Since 2014’s revolution, though, Ukraine’s tried something different: decentralization. By dismantling inefficient and corrupt bureaucracy, resources flow back into self-organized communities for local development projects like paving roads and upgrading medical facilities. While results have so far been impressive and supporters hope communities feel empowered to do more, skeptics are wary of potential political roadblocks from Kiev.

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    Bill Gates Admits He Uses an Android Phone

    If you can’t beat ’em…. The Microsoft founder has admitted that his personal smartphone uses competitor Google’s Android operating system. Gates made the revelation on Fox News Sunday, tempering the bombshell by saying his unnamed model runs “a lot of Microsoft software.” To be fair, the world’s largest software maker stopped making its own Windows Phone a year ago after it failed to gain market traction. And while he called late Apple founder Steve Jobs a “genius” on the show, Gates reportedly won’t tolerate iPhones at home.

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    China Tackles Student Debt After Spate of Suicides

    One has to consider the human cost. Online credit companies have targeted Chinese campuses with what many consider predatory interest rates — and drastic collection methods. Students report violence and harassment, with some women allegedly required to submit nude photos as “collateral” in case they don’t repay. A spate of high-profile student suicides has followed, prompting public outrage. In June, the Chinese government suspended online lenders from targeting students — but many simply rebranded, and it’s not clear what will happen to students who are already deep in debt.

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    Fans Arrested at Cairo Concert for Displaying Rainbow Flag

    They’ve got pride, but Egypt’s got prejudice. Seven concertgoers were arrested for debauchery and “inciting immorality” for unfurling a rainbow flag at Monday’s Mashrou’ Leila show in Cairo after photos were posted on social media. Homosexuality is not illegal in Egypt — and the Lebanese indie band’s singer is openly gay — but members of the LGBT community are often targeted anyway. Officials say the arrests were necessary to “protect social values,” and the country’s conservative musicians’ union says Mashrou’ Leila won’t be allowed to play in Egypt again.

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    FBI Charges College Basketball Coaches Over Bribes

    They’re calling foul. The FBI has charged assistant coaches from Oklahoma State, Auburn, Arizona and USC, as well as a senior Adidas executive, with federal bribery, fraud and corruption. Authorities say their two-year sting investigation revealed that coaches were secretly paid as much as $100,000 to pressure student athletes to choose specific schools, agents and advisers. Some grumble that the refusal to pay college athletes encourages such shady tactics. But with the FBI promising more interviews, the investigation could easily grow into a game changer for college basketball.