The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. alternative for germany poster by erik n. nelson

    Anti-Migrant AfD Beats Merkel’s Party in Her Backyard 

    You can’t call them fringe. The anti-Islam, anti-refugee Alternative for Germany (AfD) is on track to win 21 percent in today’s state elections in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The upstart populists have already won seats in eight other state legislatures, but this Baltic coastal state is Chancellor Angela Merkel’s home constituency, where her Christian Democrats — eroded by defections — eked out less than 20 percent and third place after the Social Democrats and AfD, raising questions about how Merkel, who’s weighing her options, would fare in national elections next year.

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    Obama Climbs Down From China Scuffles

    Was he even invited? When the American president arrives in a foreign land, customarily there’s a red carpet. But when Air Force One arrived in Hangzhou Saturday for the G-20 Summit beginning today, there was a carpet, but no stairs, forcing President Obama to clamber down what appeared to be built-in steps from a lower exit. Then his aides nearly scrapped with Chinese officials over their press restrictions. But Obama downplayed the drama, saying there’s often protocol friction during such visits, and ended Saturday with a chummy moonlight stroll with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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    The Football Tide Rolls In, Awash in Controversy

    Please stand for the national anthem. Unless, of course, you’re sitting with Colin Kaepernick. It’s football season, and the drama isn’t about patriotism; it’s about touchdowns, yards gained, passes completed and the long-term effects of frequent cranial impacts. College ball began Saturday, with Alabama’s No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide rolling over USC’s Trojans, 52-6. The NFL officially kicks off this week without Patriots QB Tom Brady, who is starting his four-game Deflategate suspension, and fans can first tune in Thursday to see the Panthers and Broncos face off.

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    As Coastal Waters Rise, China and U.S. Agree to Climate Pact

    It’s a high-water mark. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Barack Obama can agree on one thing: The Paris Agreement on climate change, which both leaders said they’d ratify Saturday ahead of the G-20 Summit that started in Hangzhou today. Being the globe’s worst polluters, their assent should induce other nations to follow suit, allowing the agreement — structured to avoid a skeptical Congress’ involvement — to take effect this year. And with water rising into coastal communities — even when it’s sunny — the timing will be auspicious.

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    Donald Trump Dips South of the Border

    He came, he saw, he backtracked. The GOP candidate recently appeared to turn a corner on immigration, softening his signature vow to deport all illegal immigrants. Most stunning was the mogul’s hastily arranged trip to visit Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. But rather than an anticipated policy pivot, it seems that the Donald was just taunting his enemy. He returned to America to lay out a harsh policy of blanket deportation that prompted two members of his National Hispanic Advisory Council to quit — all the while improving his poll numbers.

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    Have Kurds in Syria Been Hung Out to Dry?

    They’re used to it. Since an abortive independence offer after World War I, Kurds have known plenty of betrayal. Now they suspect Washington, having ok’ed a recent Turkish assault into Syria that pushed back against Kurdish gains, is done with them. Western officials say the Kurds are highly effective at thwarting ISIS, yet Ankara prefers to label Kurdish fighters as terrorists. While one Kurdish leader says “we don’t need world powers to survive,” this ethnic group fears that American officials may be selling them out to play nice with Turkish allies.

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    Apple and Ireland’s Real Versus Fantasy Economies

    This is taxing. Ireland is fighting a European Commission ruling that Apple Operations International must pay back taxes to the Irish government. Dublin stands accused of collaborating with the world’s most valuable company in a multibillion-dollar tax avoidance scheme — allegations both deny. The days of the Celtic Tiger enjoying high-paying corporate jobs while offering international giants tax avoidance and an English-speaking workforce may be coming to a close. But the iPad maker and Irish government plan to appeal, making it unlikely that Apple will be cutting a check anytime soon. 

  8. Crash Kills 38 in Afghanistan, Earthquake Ties Oklahoma’s Strongest and the Saints Go Marching in

    Know This: A tanker crashed into a bus on Afghanistan’s main highway, killing 38. The remains of Jacob Wetterling, whose 1989 kidnapping at age 11 inspired numerous child-protection laws, have been found. An earthquake in fracking-lubricated Oklahoma has tied the record for the state’s strongest temblor. And as Tropical Storm Hermine moves up the East Coast, dangerous storm surges are expected from Virginia to New Jersey.

    Meditate on This: Saint Theresa of Calcutta became official today, one example of Pope Francis’ fast-tracking canonizations, which critics say diminishes the notion of sainthood as His Holiness brags about holding the saint-naming record.

    Forget This: There’s a wide consensus that “We Built This City” is the worst pop hit of all time: “Among the people who now say they hate it are two band members and the guy who wrote the lyrics.”


  1. fitness shutterstock 78824683

    Ex-Cons Becoming Newest Pros in Fitness

    Prison is a résumé killer … but not for parolees who make their push-ups profitable. The drive to be hardcore at the gym is proving lucrative to some who have done hard time. Studios like New York’s ConBody, whose founder was sent up on a drug rap, now get their clients to sweat amid jail cell decor, complete with mugshot-lined walls. These gyms do more than create jobs: Studies show that a drive for fitness and an entrepreneurial spirit can separate ex-cons from the 76 percent who end up back inside.

  2. Silk road

    China Eyes a New ’Silk Road’

    But where will it lead? President Xi Jinping wants to revive this legendary trade route that, like the ancient East-West passage, will be driven by trade. Ideally involving 60 countries, the new Silk Road will initially cost $40 billion, substituting pack-animal caravans for a multi-modal approach with new roads, railways, pipelines and revitalized ports stretching from Asia’s Pacific Coast to the Horn of Africa, Middle East and Western Europe. While Beijing insists it’s building a smaller world, many wonder whether it’s a project in global dominance.

  3. Archives

    That Instant Gun Trace You See on TV? Pure Fantasy

    They’re in the line of fire. Fifty ATF employees at the National Tracing Center in West Virginia take their best shot at matching U.S. guns and owners without a database. Lobbyists successfully pushed against a national gun registry, and the center is forbidden from having centralized computer data. So, working with microfilm and paper records, tracers field about 1,500 daily requests to help identify gun purchasers. “Urgent” requests get handled in 24 hours, but most take a week, with tracers having to sift through “a bunch of friggin’ boxes.”

    Planned Inefficiency

  4. Edward snowden

    Psst! Oliver Stone Has Finished Snowden Saga

    Hollywood can keep a secret. The famed Platoon director has wrapped up production on his Edward Snowden biopic after a process worthy of an espionage thriller. To access the data-mining whistle-blower, Stone purchased the rights to a novel written by Snowden’s Russian lawyer — a former Putin campaigner. Snowden himself was initially uncomfortable with the project, butting heads with Stone over content control. And of course the project had a code name, “Sasha,” to conceal Snowden from the likes of the NSA before it hits U.S. cinemas on September 16.

  5. Many bikes on rack Amesterdam shutterstock 147657731

    How Bike Batman Saved Seattle

    He doesn’t need a cape. Stumbling across a suspicious Craigslist sale, one anonymous Seattleite decided to pose as a buyer to sting his city’s bike thieves, reuniting bicycles with owners who had posted their losses online. Cycling’s Dark Knight was unsatisfied with the work of police, who must prioritize more heinous crimes like burglaries. Despite an overall decline in crime, pricier and increasingly popular bikes have attracted more thieves. But Bike Batman and a league of like-minded pedalers of justice in cities across America are gearing up to save the day.