The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Authorities Were Tracking Train Terror Suspect

    The 25-year-old Moroccan believed to have tried to shoot up a high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris Friday was already on authorities’ radar. Reportedly overpowered by three Americans, two of them service members, after he shot and wounded a French-American passenger who also tried to stop him, Ayoub el-Khazani had already attracted attention by being a radical Islamist who went to Syria in 2014, authorities say. Experts say it’s the latest example of “blowback” resulting from jihadis returning from the conflict, and more plots are likely being hatched.

  2. This photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard shows flooded roadways as the Coast Guard conducted initial Hurricane Katrina damage assessment overflights of New Orleans, Monday Aug. 29, 2005.

    Ex-Presidents, Obama to Mark Katrina Anniversary

    It promises to be bittersweet. Ten years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, killing 1,800 and displacing a million residents, President Obama and former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush will visit the city next week to observe the anniversary. Sweet, because of the “remarkable recovery and resilience” engendered by the disaster, as the White House put it. Bitter, because parts of the region — like the all-Black Lower Ninth Ward — remain abandoned, giving those who never left another chance to hear visiting officials promise to make the city whole.

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    Bangkok: World’s Newest Terror Target

    It was the Land of Smiles, until last Monday. Now Thailand’s tourism officials are fretting as police continue to piece together evidence from the bomb blast outside the Erawan shrine that killed 20 people and injured more than 100. On Friday, they tripled the reward to $84,000 for information leading to the perpetrators, in particular the “man in yellow” whose face in a composite rendering is being broadcast worldwide. Police say he’s part of a dangerous network, which can only hamper efforts to lure back some of the 26.5 million tourists who visited in 2013.

  4. Wall Street

    Market Plummets Over Oil Drop, China Crisis  

    The Dow Jones plunged 531 points yesterday — its biggest drop since 2011 — punctuating a week in which it fell 10.1 percent. The immediate blame was pinned on oil, which hit a 6-year low of $40 per barrel. But global markets have also been feeling the heat from China’s recent free-fall and the Fed’s possible interest rate hike. The S&P 500 fell across all 10 sectors, especially tech and energy, leaving many to wonder whether this is a pause in the six-year bull market, or the shape of things to come.

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    China’s U.S. Spying Enters New Field

    It’s grain, not missile, silos these spies are tiptoeing around. U.S. authorities nabbed a Chinese agribusinessman — suspected of operating with his government’s blessing — carrying contraband on a flight from Chicago to Beijing. Hidden under the microwave popcorn, they found envelopes containing single kernels of specialized corn varieties. They’re seen as vital to China’s shaky food supply, especially with a nouveau middle class hungry for corn-fed beef. China holds huge U.S. debts — and relies heavily on Midwestern grain imports — so high-yield seed could alter the balance of power.

  6. North, South Korea Talk as Tensions Mount, Britain Reopens Embassy in Tehran

    Koreans resume talks as North’s forces reportedly mobilize. (CNN)

    Britain reopens embassy in Iran, where official says it’s too soon for U.S. (Reuters)

    GOP strategists predict Donald Trump won’t be nominated. (NBC)

    A day after U.K. air show tragedy, midair crash kills pilot at Swiss show. (USA Today)

    Jamaican Usain Bolt wins 100 meters in Beijing for ninth world title. (BBC)


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    Aloha Means Good-Bye to Dirty Energy

    Most people go there to unplug, but now Hawaii itself wants to unplug — from the grid — by betting big on hydrogen power. And who could blame them? In recent years, Hawaiians have had to import all but 7 percent of their energy and have been stuck with the country’s highest electricity rates. With a new bill committing the state to 100-percent renewable usage by 2045 and a bona fide “hydrogen czar” to lead the well-funded research campaign, Hawaii might just have the juice to make it work.

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    Mothers of ISIS Soldiers Lean on Each Other

    It’s an unimaginable burden. But thousands of women have seen their children leave home to fight for ISIS — leaving them to deal not only with feelings of shame but also with the loss of their adolescent kids. Many of these mothers, fearing that others will be similarly radicalized, have banded together to confront a grief that’s difficult for others to grasp. Some are trying to use what they’ve learned to keep other children from the same outcome — though by doing so, they will risk encountering even more friction close to home.

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    What’s the EPA Doing to Save the Bees?

    Jim Doan is a beekeeper on the run. He’s stashing his hives in Amish country, where nicotine-related pesticides called neonics aren’t being used, and he’s nursed his colonies back from near-extinction. But bees around the world are becoming confused, getting lost and dying, prompting the EU and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ban globally popular neonics. But the EPA — using industry-financed research — has done little to stem beekeepers’ $2 billion in losses, so Doan’ s hoping a federal lawsuit will sting the agency into action.

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    Bow Before the All-Seeing Algorithm

    Gamers may say AI is clueless, but it’s got your number. Algorithms set up by companies to rate employees and customers — known as predictive analytics — can destroy lives and livelihoods if they uncover questionable credit information or drop a business’s search-engine rankings. Without humans in the loop, it can be nearly impossible to win against software that’s treated someone unfairly, and many are calling for algorithmic accountability. But as advocacy groups work to expose such collateral damage, analytics proponents, citing intellectual property rights, are expected to put up a fight.

  5. Stephen Colbert

    Colbert Takes on New ‘Late Show’ Persona

    Can he finally be himself? Nine months after wrapping up The Colbert Report, the comedian is nearly set for his new role as David Letterman’s heir. Each of his 200 or so yearly shows will be twice as long as his Comedy Central gig — and no more ball jokes, the 51-year-old laments. He’s involved in every step of preproduction, from HVAC to editing. But asked to explain what it all means, the devout Catholic talks about serving God, “that we might be happy” — in this world and the next.

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    Clayton Kershaw, Control Freak Pitcher

    He’s a disciple of discipline. With one MVP and three Cy Young Awards, Los Angeles Dodgers star left-hander Clayton Kershaw has become one of the most dominant players in the game and, at $31 million a year, the highest-paid hurler in history. But it’s wise to keep your distance from the 27-year-old Texan on days he’s scheduled to pitch. Kershaw may seem easygoing and spend his free time building orphanages, but on game day, the wildly superstitious competitor has each minute mapped out and leaves no room for errors.

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