The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Panama Papers Database Goes Online

    Step right up, folks. The details of about 200,000 offshore accounts went online this afternoon, after revelations from the 2.6 terabyte data leak made the papers last month and led to embarrassing questions for the 72 current and former world leaders implicated by the revelations. Now the public can trawl the data — though the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists say it’s only publishing selected information that doesn’t include emails or transaction records. Mossack Fonseca, the Panama-based law firm whose records were leaked, has issued a cease and desist order — but so far to no avail.

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    Philippines Votes for New President

    They’re demanding change. With Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino constitutionally bound to step down at the end of his six-year term, Filipinos are casting ballots for his replacement. Polls say hardliner Davao mayor Rodrigo Duterte — aka The Punisher — is steaming toward victory, tapping into a disgust with traditional politics. The campaign has centered on the Southeast Asian archipelago’s economic inequality and corruption, and Duterte has focused on law and order, promising to crack down where needed. Seven were shot dead today, and 100,000 police are on duty to thwart any more election day violence.

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    North Carolina, US Government Countersue Over LGBT Law

    They’re not taking it sitting down. Attorney General Loretta Lynch roundly condemned the Tar Heel State’s so-called bathroom law, which forces people to use public restrooms corresponding to their birth gender. “We stand with you,” Lynch told the transgender community, noting parallels to the Civil Rights Movement as she announced that the Justice Department will sue North Carolina. Meanwhile, Gov. Pat McCrory filed his own suit rather than rescind the new law, citing the “blatant overreach” of federal authority and their “radical reinterpretation” of the Civil Rights Act.

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    Austria’s Chancellor Resigns Abruptly

    It’s a matter of principle. Werner Faymann has been in office since 2008, but now he’s stepping down after a recent electoral disappointment and wideapread political uncertainty left his Social Democrat party at sea. Last month, a far right candidate demolished both establishment parties in the first round of the country’s presidential race. The presidency is a largely ceremonial position — but many think the defeat augurs a sea change in Austrian politics. Vienna’s mayor will take over the party leadership temporarily — and be tasked with navigating Austria’s current tide of anti-immigration fervor. 

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    Greece Adopts Controversial New Austerity Bill

    They’ve tightened their belts another notch. The Greek parliament narrowly passed the government’s proposed budget yesterday, green-lighting more austerity measures. Protests kicked off in Athens, where demonstrators fed up with economic hardship and lack of opportunities clashed angrily with police. Eurozone creditors have been demanding action before guaranteeing a $95 billion bailout — the country’s third. The new law increases mandatory social security and pension contributions while raising taxes — moves that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras hopes will prompt the EU to consider some form of debt relief for Greece.

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    Trump Mulls Higher Minimum Wage, Taxes on Wealthy

    Still feuding with some of the GOP’s biggest names, the presumptive nominee is now turning his back on conservative orthodoxy. In interviews yesterday, the Donald reversed his stance on taxes, saying the wealthiest Americans could pay more under his administration. Trump also said the minimum wage should be higher — but he prefers states take the lead to go above $7.25. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, is bolstering her Wall Street support and says the billionaire is a “loose cannon,” warning that Trump’s debt restructuring plan would cause a “financial global meltdown.”

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    New Saudi Oil Minister Faces Daunting Reform Task

    Can he grease the wheels? Saudi Arabia underwent a shake-up at the highest levels of government over the weekend, ousting 20-year veteran oil minister Ali al-Naimi in favor of Khalid al-Falih. The promotion follows Falih’s headline-making address at Davos in January, when he told international financial leaders that the kingdom could benefit from allowing low oil prices to facilitate economic reform and diversification. The job change sparked fears of market volatility, but Falih quickly reassured that the Saudis plan to maintain their stable petroleum policies.

  8. British PM Warns Brexit Could Hurt Peace, Canada Makes Headway Against Fire

    Britain’s David Cameron warns that Brexit could risk peace. (The Guardian)

    Cooler temps and rain help Canadians fight Fort McMurray blaze. (DW)

    Brazil’s lower houses annuls earlier vote to impeach President Dilma Rousseff. (BBC) 

    Pakistani human rights activist gunned down in Karachi. (CNN)

    China lobbies hard for “market economy status” under World Trade Organization. (FT) sub

    BBC journalists detained, expelled from North Korea. (BBC)


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    Spanish ‘Cyborg’ Artist Feels Every Tremor on Earth

    She’s shaking up the art world. Through a small magnet implanted near her elbow, Moon Ribas, 30, can feel every earthquake around the globe. An iPhone app produces a vibration in her body with each temblor, which she then uses to shape interpretive dances. Bigger earthquakes — like last year’s magnitude-7.8 one in Nepal — produce much stronger vibrations, and the cyborgism advocate is looking to improve her implant and perhaps add more in her feet to try and pinpoint which parts of the world are being affected.

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    Uber, Lyft Leave Austin Following Regulatory Vote

    They’re hitting the brakes. The rival ride-hailing apps spent about $8 million trying to get the Texas city’s voters to support Proposition 1, which would have overturned a new rule forcing them to adhere to regulations like fingerprint-based background checks, “trade dress” for all vehicles, pick-up and drop-off prohibitions, and data reporting. But locals refused to U-turn: 56 percent voted to keep the regulations, and while Austin’s mayor says Uber and Lyft are welcome to stay, both are planning to shutter operations there today.

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    Can Artificial Intelligence Help Cure Disease?

    Robots to the rescue. With effective treatments for diseases like Alzheimer’s proving elusive, some scientists are putting their faith in machines. Artificial intelligence can do grunt-work analysis that could speed up the race for a cure by scanning millions of molecules, while early detection software might yield faster diagnoses. The approach is largely untested, and some fear AI will lead to scientific job cuts. But proponents say they’ve had promising results for malaria and immune disorders by using machines to analyze samples for parasites and mutations.

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    Muted BAFTA Acceptance Sets Chins Wagging

    He was left speechless. Britain’s biggest TV awards show saw BBC’s Wolf Hall nab trophies for best leading actor and best drama series, but it was Car Share star Peter Kay who brought the watercooler moment. Accepting his award for best male comedy performance, he began with “Well…” and then stood silent for 55 seconds before saying “thanks” to wild applause. Others used their speeches to warn about dwindling funding for British broadcasting, with director Peter Kosminsky urging viewers to fight for the likes of Channel 4 and the Beeb.

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    Dwyane Wade on Defense for Practicing During Canadian Anthem

    It bordered on rude. The Miami star says he meant “no disrespect” by taking practice shots during “O Canada” before the Heat’s Game 3 playoff loss to the Toronto Raptors on Saturday. But the shooting guard, who then stood at attention for “The Star Spangled Banner” netted nothing but grief. Wade says his pregame routine was thrown off by both anthems being played in succession — a mistake he’ll be looking to avoid in tonight’s Game 4. Toronto leads the best-of-seven series 2-1.