The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. gas taxes

    Police Clear Protesters from French Oil Refinery

    Get back to work! That’s the message from French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who told strikers at Marseille’s Fos-sur-Mer refinery that “enough is enough” after blockades there and at other fuel depots have led to shortages at two out of every 10 French gas stations. Unions are striking over recent labor reforms, which extend the work week while making it easier for employers to fire staff — measures President Francois Hollande is betting on to drive down unemployment. Demonstrators are vowing to continue, but Valls warns that they’ll be dealt with “extremely firmly.

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    Bill Cosby to Stand Trial on Sexual-Assault Charges

    It’s no joke. The famed American comedian and sitcom star will face aggravated sexual-assault charges. Judge Elizabeth McHugh made the announcement today, ruling that there was sufficient evidence for a trial. Cosby, 78, stands accused of drugging and molesting a former Temple University staffer in 2004 — a case that was opened in 2015 after dozens of other women claimed they’d been similarly victimized by the “family-friendly” funnyman. A trial date has yet to be set, and Cosby, who denies wrongdoing, could face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

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    Feds Will Seek Death Penalty for Charleston Killings

    The U.S. Department of Justice will seek the death penalty against Dylann Roof for killing nine people in an African-American church in Charleston, S.C., last year, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Tuesday. Roof, 22, is charged with a federal hate crime, as the federal government found evidence he was trying to incite racial tensions across the country with the slayings.  Roof’s state court murder trial in South Carolina is set to begin in January, with a federal trial to follow.

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    Greece Begins Evacuation of Idomeni Refugee Camp

    There’s no refuge there. Riot police moved in at dawn to clear 8,000 migrants from the camp, which sprang up at the Macedonian border when the Balkan nation barred refugees from entering. About 2,500 have already been bused to facilities near Thessaloniki, 50 miles away, and while Greece says it only has housing for 6,000, it’s promising to make more available soon. Many migrants have stayed, hoping the border will reopen, but Greek authorities say the camp is a magnet for smugglers — and hope to see it cleared within 10 days.

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    Investigators Clash Over EgyptAir Evidence

    So what really happened? One Egyptian forensics official said the condition of human remains retrieved from flight MS804, which crashed with 66 people on board last week, indicate it was brought down by an explosion. Another said they’ve found no trace of explosives — and haven’t found enough wreckage to speculate on the plane’s fate. Officials also disagree about the plane’s last moments: Greek investigators say it swerved oddly and made a sudden drop before disappearing from radar, but Egyptian authorities deny that. If the flight recorders are found, they may shed more light on the mystery. 

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    Bernie Sanders Aims for Convention Influence

    He’s got some lefty leverage left. Sanders will have a chance to shape the Democrats’ priorities, as party honchos struck a deal Monday to give him five slots on the 15-member convention platform committee. Hillary Clinton will appoint six. The Vermont senator said he wants the platform to address working people’s concerns, and warned that things could get “messy” at the Philadelphia convention. Clinton, meanwhile, declined to face her rival in a proposed Fox News debate in California ahead of the state’s June 7 primary, which could clinch the nomination for her.

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    Brazilian President’s Close Ally Quits After New Scandal

    Loose lips sink ships of state. Romero Juca, Brazil’s planning minister (and acting President Michel Temer’s right-hand man), has announced that he’s stepping aside after a leaked tape emerged in which he allegedly conspired to curb the corruption probe into state oil company Petrobras. The comments, made before Dilma Rousseff’s suspension on May 12, call for a change of government to clamp down on the investigation. Juca’s departure may limit the damage, but this could still threaten Temer’s nascent leadership — and his ambitious plans for Brazil’s economic recovery.

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    Appeals Court Dismisses $1.3 Billion Bank of America Fine

    Turns out it’s difficult to break the bank. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has tossed a judgment in a case known as “the Hustle,” in which Bank of America allegedly defrauded Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by selling them bad loans approved without adequate quality checks. The court said it couldn’t find evidence of “fraudulent intent,” dismissing the case and the fine. Many see this as a serious setback for efforts to prosecute banks over crisis-era shenanigans, and it could affect ongoing investigations into other institutions.

  9. Researchers: Bubba Smith Had CTE, TSA Chief Gets Boot Over Wait Times

    Researchers say football player Bubba Smith died with C.T.E. (NYT)

    TSA chief replaced as security lines draw ire. (NBC)

    Tax investigators raid Google’s Paris office. (Reuters)

    ISIS causes serious damage to Russian base in Syria. (BBC)

    American drone strike illustrates chill in U.S.-Pakistan relations. (NYT)

    North Korean workers defect from satellite restaurant. (BBC)

    U.S. Veterans Affairs head compares wait times to Disneyland. (USA Today)


  1. Wine

    Sicily Toasts a Women’s Wine Revolution

    These ladies can hold their drink. While they’ve long helped work the land and crush the grapes, Sicilian women are now grabbing the keys to the wine industry’s C-suites. Of 600 Sicilian wine producers, some 30 percent are now women — there were nearly none a few years back — and they’re using their promotional skills to sell wine-related tourism and boost exports. Men still dominate the $10.5 billion industry, but women are increasingly helping innovate Sicily’s wine production … and raising their glasses to the grape opportunity.

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    Ride-Hailing Switches Gears in Austin With Homegrown App

    They’re driving right into the void. Uber and Lyft packed up and left the Texas capital after trying and failing to stop new regulatory policies that would have forced them to do extensive background checks on drivers. Nonprofit RideAustin is a U-turn from its predecessors: It’s down with background checks and has a scheme that lets riders avoid surge pricing if they choose to. But many expect it to have problems with high prices and long waits, as other Uber competitors have, when service starts next month.

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    Octopuses Multiplying at Astounding Rates

    They’re eight-armed and dangerous. Australian scientists have revealed that cuttlefish, octopus and squid populations have been steadily increasing since the 1950s, while fish species that humans prefer to eat, like cod and haddock, have seen populations halve since 1970. But cephalopods don’t just benefit from being less popular as dinner: They expand to fill vacant ecological niches by targeting new prey and displaying flexible reproductive cycles — and warming oceans may be helping them thrive, too. Marine biologists worry this global octo-boom will further deplete the deep-sea food chain.

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    Actresses Lay Claim to James Bond Legacy

    It sounds like a spy in the sky dream — and it probably is. But up-and-comer Priyanka Chopra, when asked if she’d play a Bond girl, is aiming higher, saying, “I want to be Bond!” Meanwhile X-Files doyenne Gillian Anderson recently tweeted a fan-made poster of herself as “Jane Bond,” garnering thousands of likes. She later told fans online that it’s “started an intriguing conversation” but she doubts it’ll ever happen in real life. Meanwhile, current odds are on Tom Hiddleston to actually win the role.

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    Tony Gwynn’s Family Sues Big Tobacco for Wrongful Death

    It’s not lip service. Two years after his death from salivary gland cancer, the MLB Hall of Famer’s family is suing Altria Group (formerly Philip Morris) and other tobacco companies, claiming they dished out free samples to Gwynn as he rose to fame in college, using his cachet to get other African-Americans hooked. The San Diego Padres star went through nearly two daily cans of smokeless tobacco for 31 years. “Dipping” is still widespread in baseball, but a growing number of cities are banning it in ballparks.