The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Donald Trump Taps RNC’s Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff

    He’s going with an insider. The president-elect has named Republican Party Chair Reince Priebus — a post he has held since 2011 — as the next White House chief of staff. Steve Bannon, the Trump campaign’s CEO and executive chairman of Breitbard News, will work side by side with Priebus as the chief strategist and senior counselor. Choosing the RNC chair as his right-hand man may signal Trump’s intention to make nice with Republicans inside the Beltway, rather than ruffling feathers.

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    Clinton Blames FBI Director for Loss

    After Tuesday’s election shocker, the States are far from united. President-elect Donald Trump preached division — a border wall, faith-based immigration and the language of gender inequality. Now, anti-Trump demonstrators across the nation are engaging in what the mogul called “very unfair” protests, even setting fires and in one case, sustaining a bullet wound, in Portland. Saturday, in a leaked call to donors, Hillary Clinton blamed her electoral vote loss to FBI Director James Comey’s 11th-hour revelation of new evidence in her email case, adding more fuel to a bonfire of discontent.

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    Attack at Afghan Base Kills Four Americans

    No place is safe. In an unprecedented bombing attack inside perhaps the most secure military base in Afghanistan killed two U.S. military personnel and two American civilians Friday. The blast Bagram Airbase north of Kabul came a day after a suicide bomber killed six at the German consulate in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. The attack on the country’s largest base was claimed by a Taliban spokesman who said one of its fighters, posing as a laborer, attacked a sports facility. The blast also injured 16 other American GIs and a Polish soldier.

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    Powerful Earthquakes and Tsunami Rock New Zealand

    A magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck New Zealand just after midnight, killing two people and creating tsunami waves more than six feet above normal levels as panicked residents evacuated buildings and authorities urged them to seek higher ground. A series of large aftershocks, some exceeding magnitude 6, have followed. Some struck near the city of Christchurch, where a magnitude-6.3 quake killed 185 people in 2011. Evacuation advisories have extended to the North Island and the capital, Wellington, and authorities say aftershocks are likely to continue for several months to come.

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    The Election’s Not Over Till the Electors Elect

    The shock’s still wearing off. Now that Donald Trump’s pulled off his surprise victory, despite lagging a few hundred thousand votes behind his opponent in the national popular vote, inevitably the talk turns to abolishing the Electoral College. On Dec. 19, the mogul’s 290 or more designated electors will cast their votes, prompting many Trump haters to urge them to break the faith and elect Clinton. Such a reversal has never happened, and while not as improbable, a movement to bind a majority of electors to the popular vote appears similarly doomed.  

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    In Kashmir Conflict, a Mass Blinding of Protesters

    Is the whole world blind? Ignored amid U.S. election mania, India and Pakistan-backed rebels have renewed hostilities along a disputed frontier in mountainous Kashmir, with artillery and raids killing dozens. But the injuries are more controversial: Hundreds of protesters and bystanders as young as 4 have been blinded by Indian security forces’ metal pellets, made for hunting birds. Kashmiri author Mirza Waheed suggests that the blindings are Indian government policy, encouraged by recent popular nationalist fervor, bringing nuclear-armed neighbors’ relations to an ominous — if unseen — low point.

  7. Law and justice

    Poland’s Nationalists Augur a European Right-Wing Future

    Their line forms on the right. From France to Austria, the European right is on the rise — with Poland’s Law and Justice Party the biggest success to date. Anti-EU, anti-immigration, and espousing “traditional” Catholic values, the party has drawn ridicule — and strong support. One fact that’s raising eyebrows is that Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the party’s founder, isn’t an elected official — but it’s generally accepted that he’s running the country. The party’s eroding checks and balances, leading more moderate Poles to fear their nation is reverting to its authoritarian past.

  8. Iraqis ‘Have Taken Ancient Nimrud’ From ISIS, Rocking the Bloc and How Powerful Men Are Getting Off

    Know This: Iraqi forces say they have captured the ancient city of Nimrud from ISIS, which destroyed ancient structures there. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has announced a “broader, deeper peace” with FARC rebels than the one voters rejected in October. And Sting helped reopen the Bataclan Theater a year after 90 people were killed there during coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130.

    Listen to This: Kremlin watchers Mark Galeotti and Natalia Churikova examine U.S. election’s impact on the former Soviet bloc for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in a new podcast,  Brave New World.

    Let this Grab You: One takeaway from the campaign has been a reckoning on how powerful men like Bill Clinton and Donald Trump are allowed to treat women: “Even after this election-year parade of horribles, even after all our sober public pronouncements about sexual assault, it isn’t clear that anyone knows how to talk about it.”


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    Federal Employees Can Start Fearing for Their Jobs

    They’re fired — maybe. The president-elect has made no bones about his disdain for big government, promising to eliminate the EPA, among other things, while his surrogates have suggested mass government job cuts, along with gutting civil service job protection. But will he actually do it? With a Republican-led Congress, anything’s possible, like his other promise to triple the size of at least one government agency — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — whose employees might not appreciate having their job security stripped down to something resembling gig work. 

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    Facebook’s Safety Check Is Transforming Disaster Response

    It’s during a crisis when you find out who your “friends” are. First deployed in 2014, Safety Check has become a critical tool for friends and family when the unthinkable strikes — as it did in Orlando’s mass shooting this year. Now Facebook says it’s turning the feature into a hub, not just to make sure friends are OK, but to follow breaking news and video from the scene. Combined with the social network’s efforts to deliver internet by drone to places crippled by natural disasters, the portal’s becoming a vital resource for emergency responders.

  3. Pollution

    The New Administration’s Climate Hostility

    The winds of change are blowing hot. Donald Trump’s no tree hugger, having called climate change a “hoax” and threatened to derail recent U.S. environmental commitments, including the Paris climate accord. As with all of his policies, many are asking how serious Trump is — and the outlook isn’t encouraging for environmentalists, from Trump’s vow to put a climate-change denier in charge of the EPA to making coal the cornerstone of U.S. energy policy. But there’s always been a gap between Trump the brand and actual performance, so such plans could end up on ice.

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    The Conservative Revolution May Not Spare Megyn Kelly

    Will she have bad times amid his good times? The Fox News host has been a conservative rock star with crossover appeal, as she increasingly held the GOP luminaries she interviewed to account. But a feud with Donald Trump after he attacked her via social media, and other high profile moments like fighting with Newt Gingrich over her right to cover sexual assault allegations made against the president-elect, may have alienated the conservatives who voted for Trump — and they’ll be expecting a contrite Megyn Kelly to stand by their man.

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    German-Kurdish Soccer Star Plays New Game in Turkey

    He’s aiming for a different goal. Deniz Naki, a soccer player who left Germany three years ago for his parents’ native Turkey, was accused of spreading “terrorist propaganda” for the country’s banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party — and found not guilty at trial. The 27-year-old has been publicly critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, and his activism has made him the country’s most recognized and controversial footballer. He grew up in Germany, but Naki’s staying in Turkey, where he’s an enemy of the state — and a hero to his fellow Kurds.