The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Dakota access pipeline

    Army Halts Construction on Dakota Access Pipeline

    They’ll have to find another route. The Army Corps of Engineers, citing potential harm to water supplies, will not grant an easement to allow the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline to be drilled under the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. The decision’s an unexpected victory for the tribe and thousands of protesters, who’d been joined over the weekend by hundreds of veterans ahead of today’s deadline to end months of demonstrations. The future of the pipeline’s now uncertain, and some wonder if the verdict may be overturned.

  2. fire flames shutterstock 528158368

    Death Toll in Oakland Party Fire Rises to 33

    Could they have been saved? The Oakland, Calif., fire that killed at least 33 party-goers and perhaps others might have been prevented. Municipal inspectors reportedly visited the site last month, but no one answered the door and they left. On Friday night, a blaze erupted amid the makshift, unpermitted second-floor “artists’ collective” and party venue, and witnesses reported people screaming for help while the fortunate negotiated their way down a rickety gangplank stairway. Fire officials say they’re continuing to search debris for other victims, and expect the toll to increase.

  3. italian government reorganization referendum shutterstock 519669793

    Renzi Resigns as Italian PM After Referendum Loss

    They just said “no.” Prime Minister Matteo Renzi will resign after Italians yesterday rejected constitutional changes that would have given considerably more power to the ruling party — a move Renzi had touted as a solution to Italy’s chronic gridlock. While populist parties like the Five Star Movement claimed the vote as a solid anti-establishment victory — and the euro fell as investors anticipated turmoil — some doubt whether the result will mean a power transfer, since the government could wrangle new leadership rather than calling snap elections.

  4. austrian campaign poster for far right candidate norbert hofer shutterstock 486120112

    Far Right Candidate Fails in Austrian Presidential Bid

    The “Trump bump”didn’t help. Austrian voters rejected far-right Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer for their country’s presidency, handing the job instead to left-leaning independent  Alexander Van der Bellen. Thought to have a good chance, Hofer trailed by some 7 percentage points in a rerun of May’s invalidated runoff — prompting him to concede, saying he was “infinitely sad.” The job is largely ceremonial, but expectation of Europe’s first far-right leader since the 1940s had the Continent on edge, fearing Austrian voters would signal a strong shift toward anti-immigrant, anti-EU sentiment.

  5. taiwanese president tsai ing wen shutterstock 390961303

    Trump’s Taiwan Call Roils U.S.-China Ties

    There’s lipstick on his collar, and it’s not red. The president-elect had a 10-minute voice chat Friday with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, breaking with 37 years of “One China” policy in which the U.S. government doesn’t recognize the ex-Chinese island’s sovereignty. The diplomatic deviation moved Trump to tweet that Tsai “CALLED ME,” as if his calls aren’t screened, and China blamed it on a “petty trick” by Tsai. Beijing complained, but only after Foreign Minister Wang Yi said he believed the call wouldn’t undermine longstanding Sino-American relations.

  6. china 4712869739 234ff57ec6 o

    Will Trump Become Asia’s Paper Tiger?

    China may have won the landslide. Former CIA deputy director and OZY contributor John McLaughlin believes Donald Trump has charted an Asian trade course that’s headed for rocky shoals. Abandoning the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact (which excludes China) will cost the U.S. far more business — and jobs — than it will save, and it will push America’s allies into increasingly cozy relationships with Beijing. “China’s power is growing,” McLaughlin writes, leading his Asian contacts to argue it’s more vital than ever to engage closely with Eastern allies.

  7. chapecoense soccer team killed in plane crash shutterstock 525498208

    Soccer World Mourns Team Lost in Plane Crash

    “Senseless” doesn’t do it justice. The pilot complained of insufficient fuel, and there was no trace of fuel at the site where a BAe 146 jetliner crashed Monday near Medellin, Colombia. The plane carried most of the Brazilian Chapecoense soccer team, killing 71 passengers and crew. Bolivian authorities have suspended the LAMIA charter airline that provided the team’s flight, and the soccer world has responded with an outpouring of tributes for the victims. Six onboard survived, including defender Helio Hermito Zampier Neto, whose father told journalists he may recover well enough to play again.

  8. Fidel Castro 1989 shutterstock 408774532

    The Post-Castro Generation Asks, ‘What Now?’ 

    They’re called ABCs. American-born Cubans are only beginning, as the United States eases travel restrictions, to reconnect with the island their families fled. They have complicated feelings and stories to share, as the two countries become less mutually exclusive in the wake of Fidel Castro’s death. Their grandparents were persecuted by the dictator and their parents tried to assimilate in Miami’s “Little Havana,” as the Mariel boatlift and Elian Gonzalez’s repatriation roiled their world. Now this younger generation, conflicted about its identity and antagonistic homeland, eagerly awaits the relationship’s next phase.

  9. New Zealand Leader Steps Down, Court Stymies Pennsylvania Recount Bid, London Ballot Goes Against Brexit

    Know This: New Zealand Prime Minister John Key stunned the nation by announcing he will resign for family reasons. Efforts to recount presidential election ballots in Pennsylvania were set back when a court ordered petitioners to provide a $1 million bond. Cuban President Raul Castro says monuments won’t be named after his brother, the late leader Fidel Castro. Police have arrested a man in the shooting deaths of a politician and two journalists — all women — in southeastern Finland. 

    Analyze This: A Liberal Democrat has narrowly defeated a major Conservative Brexit supporter for a London parliamentary seat, causing consternation among Britons wishing to leave the EU: “They fear that (Brexit) will be snatched away by elites, and that even (Prime Minister Theresa) May, who favored remaining, will not follow through on leaving.” 

    Warm to This: Climate change fans, have we got a podcast for you: Warm Regards, with meteorologist Eric Holthaus, paleoecologist (it’s not just a diet) Jacquelyn Gill and New York Times environmental reporter Andy Revkin. It covers the science and politics of global warming, and includes the eco-right — conservatives who believe the environment needs help.


  1. marijuana shutterstock 527059468

    Albania: Europe’s Pot-Farming Capital?

    They’re taking the “ban” out of Albania. A kilo of Tirana-grown weed sells for 100 to 200 euros in country, but it can fetch more than 10 times that in Italy. While still illegal, Albanian pot farming is estimated to generate $5.3 billion annually, equaling half the GDP of one of Europe’s poorest nations. While the government says it’s destroyed 2 million cannabis plants this year with Italian assistance, many communities are turning to dope growing for the first time — and with corrupt police supporting the industry, it’s expected to hit new highs.

  2. Man holding phone with sexy photo shutterstock 249194068

    On Revenge Porn’s Front Lines, a Woman in Black

    It’s a dish best served … with subpoenas. Most states have recently criminalized publishing nonconsensual “revenge” porn — whether by a jilted ex or a hacker targeting Jennifer Lawrence — but there are still websites dedicated to the practice and prosecutions are rare. That’s where Carrie Goldberg comes in. The glamorous 39-year-old Brooklynite, a former target herself, leads a small subset of attorneys specializing in sexual privacy. With more victims braving the stigma of further attention that comes with pressing charges, Google, PornHub and the federal government are cracking down.

  3. scientist warning shutterstock 511234603

    How Pseudoscience Took Over Russia

    The lab is not safe. Russia’s scientific community, boasting 17 Nobel laureates, is struggling with how to deal with “colleagues” who insist that genetically modified crops or condoms are part of American plots against Russia — when those views are endorsed and financed by the Kremlin. While conspiracy theorists gain prominence, Vladimir Putin’s government has eviscerated the Academy of Sciences, and there is talk of reanimating Soviet-style restrictions on scholarship. Legitimate scientists say their alter-egos fit with Russia’s rising isolation and nationalism, and they’re fighting back with all the facts in their arsenal.

  4. Lin manuel miranda

    Lin-Manuel Miranda Takes up the Broadsword

    Has he gone monarchist? After exiting the stage of his runaway hit, Hamilton, Miranda’s back at it — with a Game of Thrones-style fantasy adaptation. He’ll be the creative producer of The Kingkiller Chronicle, a TV show, movie and video game based on Patrick Rothfuss’ best-selling books. Kingkiller’s complex plot and interweaving characters make it a potential winner, but why would the emperor of Broadway switch genres? Turns out he’s a fan — insisting the series inspired a Hamilton number — and promising his new venture will be a labor of love.

  5. Nintendo 64

    A Crappy Video Game Worth 180 Times Its Weight in Gold

    It’s changed people’s lives. Stadium Events, produced in 1987, has captured collectors’ imaginations — along with their $25,000 bank transfers. It featured an unusual “fitness mat” interface to propel its digital runners, but it is incredibly dull and has lousy graphics. Then the North American version was recalled and rebranded, making the original Stadium Events one of the rarest Nintendo titles and a retro obsession. To collectors, that’s the real game: finding a sealed copy and fretting over supposed storage-locker caches that could erase their quarry’s value overnight.