The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Former Henchman Testifies About Duterte’s ‘Death Squad’

    “They were killed like chickens.” That’s how Edgar Matobato, a former member of the infamous Davao Death Squad, described as many as 1,000 targeted vigilante killings allegedly ordered by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte when he was mayor of Davao. Testifying before the Senate, Matobato described abducting and killing — in one case feeding to a crocodile — both petty criminals and Duterte’s political rivals. The president denies the allegations, but this could raise international alarm about the 3,000 drug dealers and users who’ve been killed since he took office in June.

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    Super Typhoon Meranti Slams Into China

    Batten down those hatches. One person died and 38 were injured when Meranti, the world’s biggest storm of the year so far, swept through Taiwan. Now it’s made landfall in Xiamen, China, where power has been cut off in some regions and tens of thousands have been evacuated. The typhoon, a Category 5 storm with 141 mph wind gusts, also disrupted flights and train schedules at the beginning of a three-day holiday weekend — and forecasters say it’ll push toward Shanghai next, though it’ll likely only deliver torrential rain.

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    US Economy Rebounds, But Fears and Fragility Remain

    It’s getting better. But the eight-year economic upswing that’s led to across-the-board income increases hasn’t helped everyone equally, leading many Americans — particularly those without college degrees and outside metropolitan areas — to perceive a decline instead. That’s driving gloomy attitudes about the nation’s financial future, even as numbers continue to improve. Experts say it’s likely to continue to drive popularity in rural areas for politicians like Donald Trump, who emphasize dissatisfaction with the economy and promise a turnaround to perceived prosperity.

  4. A Ferry Explosion, a Kurdish Land Grab and the Schools of the Future

    Know This: Colin Powell blasted Hillary Clinton’s “unbridled ambition” and called Donald Trump a “national disgrace” in hacked emails. Sandra Bland’s family has reached a $1.9 million settlement. A 77-year-old man went on a shooting spree at his Wyoming senior housing complex. And an explosion on a Bali ferry has killed a tourist.

    Read This: Iraq’s Kurds are taking territory from ISIS — which could help them later in their battle for independence.

    Remember This Number: $100 million. That’s the sum doled out to ten unconventional high schools — including one with no class periods and one focusing on homeless students — by Laurene Powell Jobs’ XQ Institute in a bid to rethink education.


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    Meet Sweden’s Syrian Refugee Comedian

    Sometimes you just have to laugh. Mahmoud Bitar is dispensing yuks and advice via radio to Sweden’s large immigrant community years after the aspiring actor fled Aleppo. Bitar, 22, fills a valuable niche for a community struggling to adapt to the Nordic nation and its Swedish-speaking airwaves with his part on the first Arabic-language talk show on Sveriges Radio. He’s also reaching out through social media with a message for a fearful Europe: Refugees aren’t out to steal your country — they just want to see their families reunited.

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    Astronomers Unveil Best Map Yet of Milky Way

    Look, it’s the final frontier! Using billion-pixel images from the Gaia satellite that’s been circling the sun, scientists have created a 3-D map of the galaxy. Covering an area 100,000 light years across, illuminated by a billion stars, the European Space Agency’s galactic portrait is the biggest, most comprehensive celestial map ever — and it only shows 1 percent of the Milky Way. Still, researchers hope this massive project will provide answers to many lingering questions about our galaxy, and maybe even test Einstein’s theory of relativity.

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    Endangered Hawaiian Crows Observed Using Tools

    Move over, Homo sapiens. There are only 109 Corvus hawaiiensis left in the world, all in captivity, and 104 of them have been tested by scientists probing their tool-using abilities, a characteristic once thought unique to humans. Even chicks raised entirely apart from adult birds quickly thought of using sticks to probe for grubs during experiments. Now researchers are questioning whether a lack of predators makes small-island bird species more likely to have evolved to use tools as they prepare to release the crows into the wild later this year.

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    National Black History Museum to Open … Finally

    It’s been a long, hard road. The National Museum of African American History and Culture will open its Washington, D.C., doors Sept. 24, just over a century after it was proposed by Black Civil War veterans in 1915. Abandoned during the Great Depression, the project gained momentum again during the Civil Rights Movement and construction finally started during the Obama administration. From grim artifacts of slavery to celebrations of music and literature, the museum covers a broad spectrum of Black American experiences, promising to start tough — and necessary — conversations.

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    ACC Moves Championships From North Carolina Over HB2

    The hits keep leaving. The Atlantic Coast Conference is relocating its football championship game from Charlotte, as well as yanking nine other championships from North Carolina during the academic year. It followed the NBA and NCAA in striking economic and personal blows to the sports-crazed state over HB2, the law blocking any local LGBT anti-discrimination protections and requiring people to use the bathroom of their birth gender. Amid calls for repeal, embattled Republican Gov. Pat McCrory said such disputes must be played on the court of law.