The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Colombians Vote Down Landmark Peace Deal With FARC

    Not so fast. That’s the message from 50.2 percent of voters in Colombia yesterday, who rejected a deal to end a decades-long conflict that’s claimed 260,000 lives. Signed by President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Timoleon Jimenez just last week after four years of talks, the deal required ratification by the people to take effect. FARC guerrillas had agreed to disarm and would have had six months to join the political process. While Santos warned that there’s no Plan B, both sides say they still want peace.

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    Trump Advisers Call Years Paying No Taxes ‘Genius’

    Will this finally cost him? The New York Times obtained Donald Trump’s 1995 tax return, revealing a $916 million loss — meaning he could’ve gone tax-free for 18 years on the write-off. Hillary Clinton’s campaign hammered his business failures and unwillingness to play by normal rules, while confidants Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie called the creative tax scheme a sign of “genius.” Meanwhile, the mogul’s given no indication that he’ll release his returns — prompting some to wonder if reality may be even more damaging than the speculation.

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    OZY on the Trail: Clinton’s ‘Basement’ Tape and … Infidelity?

    He’s reaching for the cellar. Donald Trump spoke in Manheim, Pa. on Saturday, making his pitch to Bernie Sanders supporters, reports OZY’s Nick Fouriezos, citing shared interest in trade and disdain for Clinton — whom Trump lambasted after a hacked recording surfaced of her saying many Bernie backers lived in their parents’ basements. Trump also went off-script to insinuate Clinton wasn’t “loyal to Bill” and mock her recent bout of pneumonia. If he survives a spate of damaging revelations, the Keystone State could be the mogul’s stepladder to the presidency.

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    Russia Warns of “Tectonic” Results if U.S. Attacks Assad’s Forces

    Was that a threat? Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Saturday there’d be “tectonic consequences” if the U.S. military intervenened to prevent Syrian government forces attacking rebel-held areas of Aleppo. On Wednesday, her State Department counterpart, John Kirby, spoke of Russians sending “troops home in body bags” upon failing to renew a Syrian cease-fire. So far, the consequences have been felt by inhabitants of Aleppo, which saw its third hospital bombing Saturday and where 96 children reportedly perished in five days of fighting that shows no signs of stopping.

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    OZY on the Trail: Trump Goes All-Out in Pennsylvania

    Are its hills worth fighting for? After a long night of tweeting about a former Miss Universe, Donald Trump hit Manheim, a Pennsylvania auto-industry town, on Saturday in his second stop in two weeks in this swing state. Polls there show him neck-and-neck with Hillary Clinton, and Lancaster County could be a key foothold in the left-dominant Philly area. OZY’s Nick Fouriezos is reporting from the region and watching whether Trump can win the Keystone State – an important step if he wants to rebrand the Oval Office.

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    Russia Denies MH17 Blame in Ukraine and ‘War Crimes’ in Syria

    It’s under fire. International investigators concluded Wednesday that Russia was responsible for downing a Malaysia Airlines jetliner two years ago, providing the Buk missile launched by Ukrainian separatists. At the same time, U.N. officials called the Russian/Syrian government assault on Aleppo a “humanitarian catastrophe” with “war crimes” like hospital bombings, while monitors estimate 3,800 civilians have died in 12 months of Russian airstrikes. The Kremlin’s blamed Ukraine for permitting commercial flights over a war zone and the U.S. for backing “terrorist” Syrians, giving no indication the tough talk will accomplish anything.

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    Will the Veep Debate Matter in Trump’s Slump?

    He’s had a bad week. Polls show Hillary Clinton’s gotten a post-debate bump — and some Republicans’ cash — and September’s close brought October-style surprises: A lawsuit deposition video surfaced and media investigations alleged the mogul failed to pay hundreds of small businesses and his foundation wasn’t state-certified. So he’s unlikely to obsess over Tuesday’s vice presidential debate, pitting Republican Indiana Gov. Mike Pence against Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia. Surveys show running mates don’t sway voters, especially when they’re seen as the most forgettable spare presidents ever.

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    Colombia’s Guerrilleras Face an Uncomfortable Peace

    They’ve laid down their arms. But the thousands of women who’d been fighting alongside Colombia’s rebels, often finding power in leadership roles, must now rejoin a wary society following a landmark peace deal. Their new battle is against the stigma of their pasts as they try to find a job or a spouse — while enduring sexist government PR campaigns urging them to “feel like a woman again.” After suffering abuse as revolutionaries, many former combatants are now struggling to find a place for themselves in a civilian society that’s anything but welcoming.

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    Stalking the Woman Who’s Rattled Angela Merkel

    She doesn’t discriminate. As the leader of Alternative für Deutschland, Frauke Petry welcomes homophobes, bigots, climate-change deniers and others professing extreme right-wing views. Together they’re reviving Germany’s far right as members of the country’s third most popular party — wresting state legislative seats from Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats. The 41-year-old scientist and mom, reviled by critics as “Adolfina,” is the most successful far-right politician since Hitler, and opponents worry that her party’s fringe ideas — like banning immigrants and Muslims — are rapidly becoming mainstream.

  10. UK PM Says She’ll Trigger Brexit in March, NJ Transit Was Under Safety Audit and AI Writing Sci-Fi

    Know This: British Prime Minister Theresa May promises to trigger the Brexit process in March. An LAPD shooting has sparked a demonstration, while newly released video shows Sacramento police trying to run over a mentally ill suspect before fatally shooting him 14 times in July. The U.S. military is evacuating non-essential personnel from Guantanamo Bay as Hurricane Matthew bears down on Cuba and Jamaica. And the entity that controls internet addresses is no longer under U.S. supervision.

    Consider This: The Federal Railroad Administration found “dozens of safety violations” in its recent audit of New Jersey Transit, whose Thursday commuter rail crash in Hoboken Terminal killed one and injured 114.

    Read This: “Artificial intelligence has captured the rhythm of science fiction. For example, the script of a new science fiction short is the creation of a bot.” That was also written by AI, which is now being used to entertain us.


  1. Wiki

    Could Wikipedia Help Predict the Next Geopolitical Flash Point?

    Sometimes irritation yields pearls of wisdom. Ongoing research shows that how people interact with the online encyclopedia can gauge regional stability. If you’ve ever visited certain countries’ Wikipedia pages, you’ve probably seen the warning: “The neutrality of this article is disputed.” By studying why and how often users edit controversial topics, like the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights or Ukrainian Nationalism, researchers are creating a digital map of political unrest. Though it hasn’t yet evolved into a full-scale project, the Wikipedia Dispute Index could end up on CIA analysts’ reading list.

  2. Robots

    Chinese Robots Battle for Autonomous Supremacy

    Are these the droids we’re looking for? China’s tech capital, Shenzhen, is buzzing about RoboMasters — a yearly competition between marble-and-golf-ball-firing robot warriors that attracts 6 million fans and could be a sneak peek at the future of intelligent machines. DJI, the Chinese company that organizes the tournaments to cultivate new talent, already dominates the consumer drone market in the U.S. Some of its devices can autonomously track moving objects — suggesting applications for self-driving cars — showing these innovators will be giving Silicon Valley a run for its money.

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    For Most, the Best Rest Is Solitary

    Greta Garbo was onto something. The world’s largest survey on rest yielded some surprising conclusions — namely, that most of us need solitude in order to feel truly rested and refreshed. Our brains actually get busier when we’re by ourselves, allowing us to process and reflect. But in a hyper-connected world, feeling alone isn’t that easy to achieve, and people chill differently, with many choosing to read while younger people prefer to listen to music. The lesson, experts say, is to raise awareness of what proper rest requires — and make time for it.

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    How the Cast of ‘Hamilton’ Finagled the Best Deal on Broadway

    It’s not just a smash hit. Hamilton will also be remembered as a landmark precedent for actors, after 22 of the original cast members argued they’d “created this show,” winning a 1 percent share of net profits from the New York production, as well as .33 percent from the national tour. Though it was a messy process — lead producer Jeffrey Seller allegedly delivered lump-sum checks to the actors 30 minutes before curtain to force a deal — their victory is inspiring other Broadway casts to demand their share.

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    Why David Ortiz Is Retiring at the Top of His Game

    It’s his final October. Big Papi, 40, is leaving the batter’s box as one of MLB’s finest sluggers and one of Boston’s most beloved athletes. And even though the RBI and home run king of designated hitters says he’s still “a psycho” with a bat — hitting .600 at a time when pitching is better than ever — nagging injuries and the season’s grind have worn him down. He says he’ll miss Red Sox fans and his teammates, but, after 19 years in the majors, not baseball itself.