The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Authorities Nearly Certain About Sinai Jet Bomb Theory

    Investigators are analyzing a last-second noise on the cockpit voice recording from a doomed Russian jetliner — a bid to determine if a terrorist bomb is what they’re hearing. Although they don’t yet feel they have enough information to verify militant’s claim of downing the Metrojet flight on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, a U.S. source says it’s virtually certain that’s what happened. While the Russian government has warned against jumping to conclusions before the probe is finished, these troubling indications have raised concerns that airport security is far from airtight.

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    Leaders of China and Taiwan Meet for First Time

    It was brief, but historic. Often belligerent toward each other since both were founded in 1949, Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China held their first summit yesterday in Singapore. China has always regarded fiercely independent Taiwan as its own, so there were no flags — not even lapel pins — evident when PRC leader Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou shook hands before the closed-door meeting. Ma said the talk was “positive and friendly,” but that may be too much for mainland-wary Taiwanese voters expected to derail his party next year. 

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    Bibi Heads to Washington Amid Row Over Comments

    Show a little respect! That’s the message from the U.S. State Department to Israel ahead of next week’s meeting between Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel’s leader ruffled feathers in the American capital earlier this year with his hawkish stance — and congressional address — over the Iran nuclear deal. Adding salt, it’s surfaced that Bibi’s new communications chief, Ran Baratz, accused the U.S. president of anti-Semitism and belittled Secretary of State John Kerry’s mental capacity. Netanyahu, who’s expected at the White House on Monday, is promising to review Baratz’s appointment.

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    Half the World’s Displaced Are Children

    They’re being driven far from home. Migrants are flocking away from war-torn regions in staggering numbers, and a whopping 30 million children are among the world’s 60 million displaced — the highest rate since World War II. Many live in refugee camps or on the run, enduring hardships like cold, hunger and menial labor. Deprived of educations and stable family lives, they’re being stripped of a sense of childhood security, which leaves them vulnerable to depression and PTSD while burdening them with their communities’ hopes for the future.

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    GOP Candidates Accept Climate Change, Not Keystone Decision

    They’ve broken the ice. Jeb Bush says “the climate is changing,” and other presidential hopefuls appear to be melting Republican orthodoxy by acknowledging that the Earth is indeed warming. The new GOP debate seems to center on what, if anything, the government should do about it, with candidates blasting Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL oil pipeline Friday and denouncing his carbon-curbing Clean Power Plan. But it’s believed that the CPP could help the U.S. president wrestle a CO2-limiting deal from 190 nations when they meet in Paris in three weeks for climate talks.

  6. Myanmar Holds First Openly Contested Elections in 25 Years, UK Leader Warns of Possible EU Exit 

    Voters throng polls for historic Myanmar election, minus Rohingyas. (Al Jazeera)

    David Cameron warns UK might quit EU if it ignores reform bid. (BBC)

    Alarming light in California sky turns out to be Navy missile test. (NBC)

    Football players’ boycott over racism seeks Missouri U. president’s ouster. (USA Today)

    Larry David ‘heckles’ Donald Trump during Saturday Night Live monologue. (THR)



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    Should Humans Facilitate Their Own Extinction?

    Someday, billions of years from now, the sun will expand and likely obliterate the Earth. But Les U. Knight has a plain and simple message for cutting to the chase long before that happens: Stop having kids. He founded the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement and has been campaigning to get people to stop reproducing since 1991 — and he’s not talking zero-population growth, but forgoing procreation altogether. In the unlikely event that everyone joins VHEMT (pronounced “vehement”) tomorrow, Knight says the human race would die out within a century.

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    Ghosts of Vietnam Haunt Assassination Probe

    The war didn’t end in 1975. Five Vietnamese-American journalists were killed in the U.S. between 1981 and 1990, their deaths probed and largely forgotten. Now new interviews and thousands of pages of FBI and CIA documents point to a U.S.-based Vietnamese group that allegedly raised money to invade their homeland and liberate it from Communist Party rule. While its members deny any involvement in the murders of the reporters who opposed their cause, victims’ loved ones hope the revelations will prompt the U.S. government to reopen the case.

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    British School Integrates to Tackle Racism

    Educators are stirring the pot. Following ethnically motivated riots on the outskirts of Manchester in 2001, the town of Oldham gained a reputation for racism that many feared was unfixable. But Waterhead Academy spearheaded change, opening in 2012 to integrate children from white and Asian communities. Students still tend to stick to their own ethnic groups, but data shows that perceptions and trust are improving. The school needs to make strides academically, but it has the potential to serve as a guiding light in Britain’s struggle to bridge the racial divide.

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    Congolese Make Classical Music Their Own

    Throughout the fighting, Armand Diangienda’s music never stopped. Near-constant war and repressive regimes have defined his native Democratic Republic of the Congo. But for 21 years, he’s realized his dream of transforming “church music” into a popular art form. The conductor’s 80 musicians and 105 singers — all volunteers who’ve improvised with objects like minibus wheel rims for chimes — are the toast of Kinshasa, playing classical music inflected with tribal rhythms. They’re now charging for concerts and raising funds for a music school to help ensure that the beat goes on.

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    Are Pro Leagues Ready for Bionic Players?

    Dressing stars has always been lucrative, but this year’s fashion season has a new twist: decking professional athletes in satellite technology to help sports teams get a leg up, no matter how small. While wearables are already hot, this bubbling pro industry could reach $70 billion by 2025, and surprisingly it’s a tiny Australian company that’s leading the way — over the likes of Nike, Adidas and Google. But will wary U.S. sports leagues like the NBA and NFL wait too long to embrace bionics, while others take the tech and run?