The Presidential Daily Brief


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    French President François Hollande Won’t Run Again

    Who’s left for France’s left? Hollande, whose approval rating is a dismal 4 percent, is the first sitting French president not to seek re-election since WWII. While he wasn’t expected to make it past the first round in April’s general elections, his announcement has stunned the French establishment. Now the ruling Socialists will face a January primary, with prime minister Manuel Valls expected to be a leading candidate — though without a late-stage reversal of fortune, the party’s still not likely to beat conservative candidate François Fillon.

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    Starbucks CEO Stepping Down to Focus on New Brand

    He built it up from nothing. Howard Schultz, 63, stepped down once before in 2000, but returned to company leadership in 2008. Now he’s hand-picked his successor, COO Kevin Johnson, and will focus on a new high-end chain of coffee shops based on a Seattle Starbucks “tasting room,” where a cup of coffee can cost as much as $12. Some are also speculating that Schultz, a committed Democrat who’s launched several progressive initiatives within the company and inspired protests from Trump voters, may enter politics himself.

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    Uzbek Elections Marred by Wild Poisoning Rumor

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. All eyes are on Europe’s voters this Sunday as Austrians choose a new president and Italians weigh a constitutional referendum. Uzbek voters will elect a new leader for the first time since 1991, after the September death of dictator Islam Karimov. While a landslide victory’s expected for prime minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev — Uzbekistan is without opposition or free press — rumors that Karimov’s daughter Gulnara was poisoned are making the rounds, and her son is demanding evidence of his mother’s whereabouts.

  4. Dolly Parton, the New Hamilton and the PDB Quiz

    Know This: Tens of thousands of Indonesians are demanding Jakarta’s governor be jailed for what they say was an insult to the Quran. Aides from the Clinton and Trump campaigns debated hotly at a forum yesterday about white supremacy within the GOP leadership. And Dolly Parton has pledged to donate $1,000 a month to each family that lost their home in the Tennessee wildfires, which have killed 11 people and destroyed more than 700 buildings.

    Listen to This: The Hamilton Mixtape, a collection of remixes of the Broadway score from Kelly Clarkson, Queen Latifah, Common and other artists, drops today.

    Try This: Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB quiz.


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    Merriam-Webster: Save Our Word of the Year From Fascism

    Darn the internet’s insatiable curiosity! Every year, Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year is the one with the most lookups — and so far for 2016 it’s “fascism.” The dictionary tweeted, “There’s still time to look something else up,” suggesting people research “flummadiddle” instead. That managed to get the word (meaning “something foolish or worthless”) into the list of top lookups, though it hadn’t yet passed “fascism,” which denotes a suppressive, nationalistic, centralized government led by an autocrat. Now you don’t have to look it up.

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    As Social Media Deals With Hate, Some Solutions Emerge

    Don’t feed the trolls. Sites like Twitter have struggled to tackle harassment and abuse — and in some cases it’s affecting their bottom line. GitHub, a collaborative programming network that managed to banish its trolls, did so by getting the community involved, giving harassed users more reporting tools and hiring an outspoken critic to lead its anti-bullying campaigns. While those steps won’t work for every site, trolls may stick to networks that actively welcome them — but Instagram, Google and even Reddit are increasingly refusing to do so.

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    Icelanders Are Gravitating to That Old-Time Religion

    The pagans are back. Since 1998, the Asatru Association’s membership in Iceland has grown elevenfold and now comprises 1 percent of the population, with a pagan temple in the works. Heathen organizations have flourished across the world, but without the same kind of rapid growth as in Iceland, which may be a response to the past decade’s upheaval there: volcanic eruptions, a financial crisis, a presidential resignation. Icelandic neopagans may be seeking comfort, familiarity and the religion of the island’s pre-Christian roots — complete with horns of mead.

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    HGTV Says LGBT Couples Welcome on ‘Fixer Upper’

    It went viral, all right. Buzzfeed stirred up controversy this week with a story targeting the church of Chip and Joanna Gaines, the couple that helms the popular house-flipping show. The Texas couple’s pastor has spoken out forcefully against homosexuality and advocates conversion therapy. But Buzzfeed felt some backlash as critics saw it as an attack on the Gaineses and their Christian faith. Meanwhile HGTV affirmed that same-sex couples are welcome “on all of our shows” — though Fixer Upper, entering its fourth season, hasn’t featured any.

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    Former NFL RB Joe McKnight Killed in Louisiana

    His life was cut short. Police say McKnight, 28, was shot in a road rage incident outside New Orleans. A prep superstar, McKnight shone at the University of Southern California before leaving in 2010 for the NFL draft. The speedster played for the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs, but injuries and fumbles derailed his NFL career. He played this year in the Canadian Football League. His death sparked an outpouring around the football world, with friends and teammates saying McKnight will be remembered for his big heart.