The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Michelle Obama Speaks Out, Trump Denies Claims

    “I can’t believe … a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women,” first lady Michelle Obama said today in New Hampshire. Dismissing Trump’s hot mic banter as mere locker room talk is an “insult to decent men,” she continued. Meanwhile, allegations from four women have surfaced, accusing the Republican candidate of inappropriately touching or kissing them, with one saying “he as like an octopus.” The Donald says the claims are “absolutely false,” but his opponent, Hillary Clinton, is campaigning with new swagger and taking aim at congressional GOP candidates.

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    Release of 21 Kidnapped Chibok Girls Secured

    Negotiations between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram militants have yielded freedom for nearly two dozen of the schoolgirls who were famously kidnapped in 2014. Boko Haram kidnapped hundreds of female students, and the campaign for their return, known as “Bring Back Our Girls,” swept the world. Before this, only one case of a Chibok girl being released had been confirmed, leaving 218 still missing. Nigeria’s government says further negotiations are ongoing, meaning more of the girls — and others who have been abducted — may secure release as well. 

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    Thailand Mourns the Death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej

    The whole country is wearing black. Thailand is beginning 30 days of mourning for its ruler of 70 years after his death at a Bangkok hospital yesterday. The monarchy is revered in Thailand — public criticism is punishable with jail time — and the king withstood multiple coup attempts in his lifetime. Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, 64, will succeed him — but the prince has asked for a delay before that happens, and many are watching the next monarch closely for clues about how he’ll shake up Thailand’s governance.

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    US Fires on Yemen After Ship Attack

    It’s Tomahawk-for-tat. Since Sunday, three missiles have reportedly been fired at American destroyer USS Mason — including one just hours before the U.S. retaliated, knocking out radar sites in territory controlled by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. President Obama approved the strikes, which were America’s first against Houthi targets in Yemen’s conflict. The rebels say they never fired on the Navy ship, but the U.S. says it’ll respond to future threats on its ships or on commercial vessels, which often traverse the nearby Bab al-Mandeb Strait, a busy shipping route.

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    Thousands March in Colombia in Support of Peace Deal

    Can the treaty be saved? Though Colombia’s voters narrowly rejected a peace accord with rebel group FARC after more than five decades of war, many are taking to the streets to demand peace anyway. President Juan Manuel Santos, who was just awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his effort to solve the conflict, is now working with FARC to make small adjustments to the deal. Its future remains uncertain, though, as former President Alvaro Uribe, who led the referendum campaign against the deal, says small changes aren’t enough.

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    Scandal-Beset Wells Fargo Chief to Step Down Immediately

    He didn’t want to bring the bank down with him. John Stumpf has been grilled by Congress twice over the bank’s creation of 2 million fraudulent accounts in order to hit sales targets during his tenure as CEO. Now, in what replacement Tim Sloan called “an incredibly selfless act,” Stumpf will make a quick exit, walking away with retirement benefits and stock worth about $120 million. Now it’s up to Sloan to reassure investors that Wells Fargo, which faces state and federal inquiries, hasn’t been mortally wounded.

  7. Stonehenge Before Stonehenge, Cuba’s Shark Habitat and #repealthe19th

    Know This: The U.N. officially appointed Portugal’s Antonio Guterres to be its next secretary general. Pakistan’s delayed the final appeal in the case of a woman sentenced to death for blasphemy. An ancient Australian stone circle probably predates Stonehenge. And Britain’s high court is hearing arguments that Brexit cannot be triggered without parliamentary approval.

    Read This: Will a new influx of curious tourists destroy Cuba’s fragile, beautiful marine reserve?

    Keep an Eye on This: After a viral infographic indicated that Trump would overwhelmingly win the electoral college if only men voted, some of his supporters — including women — are tweeting that the U.S. should #repealthe19th, in reference to the 19th Amendment, which recognized women’s right to vote.


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    Bob Dylan Stays Quiet on Nobel Prize Win

    Maybe it is him, babe. The singer-songwriter took the stage in Las Vegas last night just hours after becoming the first musician (and first American since 1993) to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Before the announcement, Dylan’s odds of winning were 16-1 — he was tied for 8th place, despite many pundits calling for him to be recognized. During his concert, Dylan not only didn’t mention the prize, but barely spoke a word, instead allowing the Twitterati to debate whether his songs actually count as literature.

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    Civil Asset Forfeiture’s Days May Be Numbered

    Will they seize the moral high ground? Thanks to public asset forfeiture, American law enforcement can nab property associated with alleged wrongdoing, leaving innocent citizens and their loved ones vulnerable to unexpected confiscation. The practice, once primarily used to deflate drug cartels, has been roundly criticized. Some are gunning to fix it, and while hurdles abound — especially since police are loathe to give up profitable equitable sharing with the Justice Department — 22 states are introducing laws to limit such forfeitures, and at least nine states have passed reforms.

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    British Supermarket Chain in Marmite Battle

    Brexit means no breakfast. With the pound plummeting, food supplier Unilever attempted to hike prices for grocery stores by about 10 percent. Now it’s locked in a standoff with national chain Tesco, which reportedly doesn’t want to eat the extra cost — and that means Tesco’s shelves are bare of brands Unilever supplies, including Marmite and Ben & Jerry’s. Tesco’s CEO, who worked at Unilever for decades, will now have to negotiate a truce — or raise prices for British consumers, who may see Brexit uncertainty drive prices up even further.

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    Biologists Find Black Widow DNA in Virus

    What tangled webs they weave. Biologists from Vanderbilt University have found that the WO virus — which infects the bacteria Wolbachia, which in turn infects many insects, spiders and other arthropods — contains a gene for latrotoxin, the poison found in black widow spider venom. It appears that a third of the WO genome is made up of eukaryotic animal genes, unlike any other known bacteria-infecting virus. This suggests that WO, which also infects black widows, stole animal DNA and kept it for itself, showing an unprecedented evolutionary adaptability.

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    Nobel Laureate Playwright Dario Fo Dies at 90

    He was always stirring up trouble. Fo, whose career lasted more than six decades before a respiratory ailment claimed him, was most famous for the 1970 leftist political drama Accidental Death of an Anarchist. He also made headlines when Italian prosecutors targeted him after his 1974 play, Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay, which depicted housewives stealing food, seemingly inspired a wave of grocery thefts. Fo won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997, and in recent years used his fame to bolster Italy’s rising populist Five Star movement.

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    Auston Matthews Makes Historic Four-Goal NHL Debut

    That’s a slick start. The No. 1 draft pick donned Maple Leafs gear for the first time last night, sinking four goals in just two periods against Ottawa. Netting the quickest hat trick for a debuting player since 1944 — and later managing a fourth — the 19-year-old called it a “pretty unbelievable” night. The Senators ultimately won 5-4 in overtime, with Matthews taking responsibility for a defensive lapse. But fans will likely forgive: At this pace he’d break Wayne Gretzky’s 894-goal record by early 2019.