The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Republicans Prepare to Pass the Torch to Trump

    He’s got the best delegates. And they’re bound by rules of the Republican National Convention, which starts Monday, to vote for Donald Trump. Guardians of the Grand old Party failed to loosen that requirement Thursday, assuring that the confab will be the presumptive nominee’s coronation. The real estate mogul named Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate, providing the ticket with mainstream Republican views, many of which contradict Trump’s. The pick is also an olive branch for those — like the last two GOP presidents — who aren’t coming to the Cleveland convention.

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    Has France Become the New Ground Zero?

    Don’t be reassured. Attacks like November’s Paris massacre and Thursday’s truck rampage in Nice that killed 84 aren’t over. That was French Prime Minister Manuel Valls’ assessment in the grim aftermath of the latest assault. As three days of national mourning begin today, authorities have arrested five and say the driver, fatally shot by police, was Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel. ISIS has claimed responsibility, but neighbors of Nice resident Bouhlel, who said he always seemed angry after his wife threw him out, didn’t attend the local mosque, raising questions about his murderous motivation.

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    Public Option Returns as a Possible Obamacare Tweak

    It’s made a remarkable recovery. During negotiations over health care reform, Barack Obama spiked “public option” insurance in a deal with the hospital lobby. But the president, and his potential successor Hillary Clinton, are now embracing government-run insurance in areas where Obamacare health-plan exchanges have scant competition. Given consolidation among health care providers and near-monopolization in some markets, introducing government plans could help lower premiums for consumers. And even hospitals might support the option as a hedge against newly merged mega-insurance companies looking to dictate terms.

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    Is ISIS Losing Battles and Winning the War?

    They’re far from finished. American leaders highlight the militant group’s territorial losses in Iraq and Syria and paint its overseas terrorism as acts of desperation. But ISIS is establishing territory in the Middle East and trying to bring about apocalyptic war with the West, and to that end, its far-flung attacks help polarize nations against Islam — particularly immigrants. To counter this, two conflict analysts argue, the U.S. must closely track local radical groups on the so-called caliphate’s periphery, like Jordan and Lebanon, and adapt quickly when new threats arise.

  5. Declassified 9/11 Document Shows Saudi Links, Jeb Bush Goes After Trump’s ‘Nativist’ Stance

    Declassified 9/11 ‘28 Pages’ detail evidence of Saudi terror links. (NYT)

    Jeb Bush knocks Trump’s ‘nativist rhetoric’ on eve of convention. (CNN)

    U.S. may send 200 troops to protect Americans in South Sudan. (AP)

    San Diego police arrest man in serial killings of homeless men. (Union-Tribune)

    Pakistani model embarrassed cleric before brother strangled her. (AP)

    Denver’s Von Miller becomes NFL’s highest-paid non-quarterback. (USA Today)


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    The Politics of the Nose Job Are More Than Skin-Deep

    Who cares if Kim’s nose looks Armenian? Plenty of people, judging by the Instagram comments. Our fascination with nose shape — fueling 200,000 surgeries in the U.S. last year — seems rooted in racial bias. People have pursued such cosmetic changes for a century, initially spurred by ethnic caricatures. Now, many celebrities get nose jobs to look racially ambiguous, but the average rhinoplasty fits a Eurocentric beauty standard. While diverse skin hues may be more celebrated in 2016, the nose has some catching up to do.

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    Real World Economics Could Ruin ‘Pokemon Go’

    Gotta catch ’em all … and sell ’em at a profit. While “Pokemon Go” is in its infancy, economists are already looking to the future — and it doesn’t look bright. Game economies, unlike the real-life variety, afford high levels of control. But many worry that the upcoming Pokemon economy, which will allow trading, will soon be divided between casual players and Pokemoguls with lots of money or time to invest. That fosters inequality that spoils the fun for new players — something game developer Niantic is eager to prevent.

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    Are Zimbabweans Having a Cash-Back Love Affair?

    If cash is king, then cash back should be queen. While this landlocked sub-Saharan country suffers cash shortages and bank runs, its people are increasingly figuring out how they can skip ATM lines and access funds at a moment’s notice. Retailers are seeing a spike in folks, armed with bank and credit cards, withdrawing between $5 and $200 per purchase from their accounts. Sure, it’s enabling banks to charge more fees, but this reverse innovation is equipping Zimbabweans with some much-needed green.

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    How Female Writers Are Taking Over Crime Fiction

    Murder’s not a man’s game anymore. Female authors like Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie and Patricia Highsmith have been stars of the mystery genre for decades, but their slightly more psychological type of thriller — moving away from trench-coated heroes with guns — has become the standard for the category. Women from Ireland, Japan, Norway and the U.S. are crafting mysteries that delve into, and derive their suspense from, the selfishness and secrecy inherent in human nature — and they’re veering away from the macho detectives of old. 

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    Do U.S. Soccer Fans Echo European Bigotry?

    It’s a questionable goal. As Major League Soccer in America grows, its fans appear racially split. Loyalist clubs for teams like the Seattle Sounders tend to be white and emulate their European counterparts — mimicking alcohol-fueled rowdiness and chants that stir violence and racism. That’s not exactly a welcome mat for a 30-percent Latino fan base, whose fútbol loyalties often stay tied to homelands where the sport is cherished. Writer Jay Caspian Kang argues that if U.S. soccer wants to fill stadiums, it must develop an original and inclusive fan culture.