The Presidential Daily Brief


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    GOP Elector Ditches Trump, Stein Pushes More Recounts

    It ain’t over ’til it’s over. A Texas “faithless elector” says he’ll break his pledge and not vote for Donald Trump when the electoral college convenes Dec. 19, citing the president-elect’s erratic behavior — though he won’t back Hillary Clinton either. With unsubstantiated claims that the vote was hacked, the Green Party’s Jill Stein is suing for a Pennsylvania recount, while Michigan’s proceeds and Florida voters pursue their own. Meanwhile, Trump’s trade agenda is already hitting Capitol Hill roadblocks, as Republican leaders say they will oppose new tariffs.

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    Judge Declares Mistrial in Shooting of Walter Scott

    They were one vote from a verdict. One juror was reportedly unwilling to consider finding former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager guilty in last year’s shooting of Walter Scott, an unarmed Black man, prompting Judge Clifton Newman to halt the trial. Video captured by a passerby showed Slager, who has claimed he only acted in self defense, shooting Scott multiple times in the back as the latter tried to run. Prosecutors will seek a new trial, and Slager faces federal civil rights charges as well.

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    North Korea Reportedly Hacks South’s Cyber Defenses

    But what information did they steal? That’s still unclear, amid reports that North Korea’s cyberhacking juggernaut has breached the intranet of South Korea’s military cyber command, but malware was detected and confidential documents compromised. Military personnel say they isolated the breached portion of the network after they realized it’d been hacked. North Korea has a record of hacking — and of denying involvement in cybercrime — notably a 2014 campaign to plant malicious code on South Korean servers that attacked thousands of computers before it was discovered this summer.

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    Italian Bank Prepares for Bailout Amidst Political Upheaval

    The fallout wasn’t as bad as they’d feared. Markets were calmer than expected after Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced his resignation over Sunday’s referendum defeat. But struggling bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena’s future hinges on a plan to raise $5.4 billion in capital, including more than $1 billion from Qatar — something more difficult to secure given Italy’s political uncertainty — and the bank’s been told to prepare for a state bailout instead. Meanwhile, Italy’s president has “frozen” Renzi’s resignation for a week amid calls for snap elections.

  5. Indonesia is Shaken, Montreal’s Traffic Snafu and Billions Wasted

    Know This: Dozens are dead after an undersea earthquake in Indonesia’s Aceh province. Jayaram Jayalalithaa, chief minister of Tamil Nadu and one of India’s most influential politicians, has died at the age of 68. President-elect Donald Trump’s spokesman said that the new administration supports completing the Dakota Access Pipeline. And Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Pearl Harbor this month, the first Japanese leader to do so.

    Watch This: Montreal saw a slow-motion 10-car pileup after a bus slid through city snow and into a group of cars. Shockingly, nobody was injured.

    Remember This Number: $125 billion. That’s how much wasteful bureaucratic spending was identified in a January 2015 internal Pentagon study — a report that was allegedly suppressed immediately.


  1. Accra

    Fake US Embassy Operated in Ghana for a Decade

    It flew the stars and stripes. But an Accra building that presented itself as a de facto U.S. embassy for about 10 years was a scam, says the State Department. It distributed fake and stolen IDs, charging mostly rural West Africans up to $6,000 per document, but officials say no fake visa was used to enter the United States. Ghanaian authorities, who shut down the “embassy” this summer after a tip-off, have confiscated hundreds of passports, arrested several people — and discovered a similar fake Dutch embassy operation.

  2. Amazon

    Amazon’s Futuristic Grocery Store Could Kill Jobs

    Welcome to capitalism 2.0. At Amazon Go, a pilot store opening next year, customers check in with their phones, grab their items, and get billed to their Amazon accounts without standing in line or checking out. With Amazon reportedly planning thousands of grocery stores in the future, some speculate that the zero-human-interaction model could expand — and worry about the hundreds of thousands of Americans who could lose their cashier jobs. While many low-income workers fret about international competition, some experts warn that the real threat is technology.

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    Animation Is All the Rage in Authoritarian Propaganda

    There’s more than meets the eye, folks. A deadly serious motive lurks behind cartoons deployed by regimes in Russia, China and North Korea featuring Western characters as villains. Propaganda campaigns that for decades helped inspire conformity and loyalty are being jazzed up and designed to go viral. These darkly funny shorts can come off as slightly subversive and often avoid overt cheerleading for the state. But not unlike America’s wartime cartoons of old, authoritarian animation carries a patriotic subtext — and subtly whips up sentiment against a common enemy.

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    Jimmy Kimmel Tapped to Host Oscars

    Network synergy for the win. ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel, who’s hosted a late night show since 2003 and emceed the Emmys twice, will crack wise at the Academy Awards — airing on the same network — on Feb. 26. Kimmel’s just the latest to benefit from a trend: NBC (Jimmy Fallon, Golden Globes) and CBS (James Corden, Grammys and Tonys) have long used award shows to promote their late night programs. Kimmel quipped that he’s “honored to have been chosen to host the 89th and final Oscars.”

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    Winter Meetings: Pitchers Score Big Deals, Harper Eyes $400M

    He’s swinging for the fences. Washington slugger Bryce Harper is reportedly seeking a record-setting deal for more than 10 years and $400 million after 2018, a price that has the Nationals already looking beyond the 24-year-old former MVP. While Washington’s an aggressive player at the winter meetings, it lost Mark Melancon to San Francisco for four years and $62 million — the priciest ever deal for a closer. Rich Hill, the top starter on the market, stuck with the Dodgers for three years and $48 million.