The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Extremist Violence at Bamako Hotel Claims 27 Lives

    Troops stormed the Radisson Blu in Mali’s capital after suspected jihadis laid siege to the compound. The militants are said to have killed at least 27 people, including one American woman named Anita Datar and Belgian MP Geoffrey Dieudonne, at the U.S.-owned facility frequented by expats. Malian authorities, aided by off-duty U.S. servicemen, reclaimed the building, killing the gunmen and freeing dozens of hostages. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is cutting short a trip to return to Bamako while investigators look into claims of responsibility from Islamist extremist group al-Mourabitoun.

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    Convicted Spy Jonathan Pollard Leaves Prison 

    He’s a free agent. The former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst convicted of spying for Israel 30 years ago was released today from federal prison. The 61-year-old Texan — whose case has always caused tension for U.S.-Israeli relations — wants to be reunited with his wife, Esther, who lives in Israel. But federal parole stipulates that Pollard not leave the country without permission for five years. Obama has decided not to intervene, and Benjamin Netanyahu is telling colleagues to keep quiet and avoid ruffling any more feathers.

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    European Liberties Targeted Amid Fear of ‘Terrorist World War’

    Could terrorism destroy the EU? The Continent’s leaders are grappling to balance civil liberties and safety in the wake of last Friday’s attacks, debating whether — or how much — to close borders in the Schengen Area. With Germany’s intelligence chief warning that “something like Paris can happen any time,” France and Belgium say safety must come first. Efforts to build an international anti-terrorism coalition, meanwhile, have hit a snag, with Russian and American leaders, who will meet individually with Francois Hollande next week, refusing to budge on Assad.

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    Lobbying Backfires, House Refugee Bill Passes

    The House of Representatives passed a resolution 289-137, supported by 47 Democrats, to block resettlement plans for 10,000 Syrians. The bill would require that each individual asylum-seeker be deemed a non-threat by the heads of National Intelligence, Homeland Security and the FBI. Lobbying by the White House had the unwanted effect of swaying a number of Dems to the GOP’s side, and while many believe the vetting process is already stringent, they say Obama — who has vowed to veto — must better convey that to the nation.

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    Square’s Meteoric Rise a Testament to Tech Strength

    They just wanted a good price. Jack Dorsey’s payments startup surged a whopping 45 percent yesterday, its first day of trading, in what could prove a turning point for technology. The day before, San Francisco-based Square dropped its IPO price to just $9 a share, well below expectations, which saw demand explode, peaking as high as $14.80. Many feared tech was in a slump due to wariness about overvaluations, some stretching to $1 billion or more. But this success will likely mean more future IPOs at “lower valuations.”


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    Online Stores Try to Make a Buck Off Paris Attacks

    Don’t be left in the dark about supporting the City of Light. The powerful “Pray for Paris” slogan has emerged since 129 were killed last Friday by terrorists in the French capital. But beware of online stores taking advantage of the public’s urge to support grieving Parisians. While some donate a portion of profits to charity, many don’t, and they’re putting the now-iconic drawing of the Eiffel Tower inside a peace sign on T-shirts and mugs — leaving it up to consumers to spot the difference.

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    Facebook Debuts Tools to Ease Romantic Splits

    Need a clean break? The social network wants to help us through tough transitions, offering options that limit interactions with former romantic partners. When a user’s relationship status changes, the site will offer a number of choices, including cutting back the frequency of an ex’s newsfeed appearances, untagging photos with former lovers and blocking others from seeing the social media history of what once was. The new options have rolled out on the U.S. mobile app and could, pending user feedback, potentially soothe aching hearts around the world.

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    He’s Unleashing the Power of Jellyfish

    This really floats his boat. John Dabiri, a MacArthur Genius Grant winner who was a Caltech professor by 24, is looking to bio-inspired engineering by studying jellyfish and other sea creatures. The physics of swimming animals guides him to design new ways of moving other things — like naval vehicles — and detect heart failure years in advance. He also works on life-changing technologies like wind farms, which he experimentally models on schools of fish to maximize efficiency, as well as nurturing a new generation of Black scientists.

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    Adele’s New Album Isn’t Streaming Anywhere

    She won’t be bundled up. The 27-year-old British singer is releasing her much-anticipated new album, 25, today. While she has declined to comment on whether it’ll be available on streaming services, insiders say she’s following Taylor Swift’s lead and refusing to share it, packaged with other songs, for a monthly fee. The first single from her album, “Hello,” has already sold more than a million copies — and Adele’s move could signal a trend toward music’s elite refusing to be left out in the cold by a stream.

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    Harper, Donaldson Named Baseball MVPs

    Neither won a championship, but that didn’t stop the Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson and the Nationals’ Bryce Harper from becoming 2015 league MVPs. Harper, the 23-year-old superstar outfielder, was the unanimous NL choice despite playing for Washington, who failed to make the playoffs. In the AL, many expected last year’s MVP, Mike Trout, to claim another title, but Donaldson was pivotal in propelling his team to the postseason for the first time since 1993. The Florida native’s win is being seen as a message about making the most of one’s opportunities.