The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. turkey attack memorial shutterstock 447340294

    Kurdish Group Claims Responsibility for Deadly Istanbul Bombing

    The bloodshed continues. Two suicide bombings killed 30 police and eight others while wounding 155 outside an Istanbul soccer stadium last night. The latest in a string of attacks came two hours after an important match between popular host Besiktas and Bursaspor. The Kurdish Freedom Falcons, an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), said it carried out the attack to avenge violence in southeastern Turkey and the imprisonment of PKK’s leader. The first blast hit a police assembly area and the second when officers surrounded an attacker. Turkey has detained three suspects.

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    Trump Calls CIA Finding of Russian Election Help ‘Ridiculous’ 

    They did it. That’s what a leaked secret CIA assessment to Congressional leaders concluded about suspected Russian hacking that led to WikiLeaks revelations about Hillary Clinton and her campaign. President Obama publicly ordered intelligence experts to look into hacking orchestrated by Moscow, including malicious cyber activity affecting U.S. elections dating back to 2008. Donald Trump on Sunday called the CIA findings “ridiculous,” and “just another excuse” proffered by Democrats for why they lost the election, but even some Republicans, like Sen. John McCain, are planning to investigate.

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    Children Among Slain in Coptic Cathedral Bombing in Egypt

    They’re not safe. An explosion in a chapel of one of Cairo’s most prominent Coptic cathedrals today killed at least 25 people. Egyptian media reported that the attack at St. Mark’s — seat of the Egyptian Orthodox Christian church’s pope — killed mostly women and children. “What have they done to deserve this?” asked one witness who said she saw children among the dead. No group claimed the bombing, but today is an Islamic holiday and sectarian attacks have proliferated since the military removed the Muslim Brotherhood from power in 2013.

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    Scores of Worshipers Die in Nigerian Church Collapse

    Was its foundation infirm? The unfinished girders of an unfinished church roof collapsed on worshipers Saturday, reportedly killing 160 worshipers in southern Nigeria. The tragedy occurred only two years after another church collapsed in the country’s largest city, Lagos, collapsed, killing 116. Yesterday’s incident at the Reigners Bible Church, where congregants were told that God would make them rich, would be investigated, the local governor said, for evidence of compromised building standards — a common scenario in Nigeria. Authorities are still struggling, however, to hold church leaders accountable in the 2014 Lagos collapse.

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    Even in Absentia, Dylan Upstages Nobel Geniuses

    It was a “wonderful answer,” wrote Bob Dylan, to the question, “are my songs literature?” The folk-rock legend’s speech accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature was read yesterday by the U.S. ambassador to Sweden at the Stockholm ceremony, which also featured Patti Smith performing Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” Nobels in five other categories were also awarded, including the Peace Prize, in Oslo, to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos — who urged the world to “rethink” harsh anti-narcotics policies — for efforts to end his nation’s 50-year civil war.

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    Trump’s Equal-Animosity Appointments

    Watch the red line. After choosing many solidly conservative agency heads, including a climate-change denier for EPA and the three generals for national security posts, Donald Trump annoyed his base Thursday with fast-food executive Andrew Puzder as his labor secretary pick. He supports “amnesty and flooding the labor market with foreign workers,” lamented Breitbart News, Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s old website, which has accused the president-elect of neglecting his supporters. Fellow moguls are looming large: A Goldman Sachs exec’s to shape economic policy and Exxon’s CEO is reportedly leading the secretary of state pack.

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    (Living) Filipinos Love Rodrigo Duterte’s Police Chief

    He gets stuff done. Ronald dela Rosa, the genial, bald director general of the Philippine National Police, is known as the President Duterte’s iron fist, with many ordinary citizens clamoring to snap selfies with him, and his own crime-blasting video game. But after the vigilante-style war on drugs apparently claimed a top political enemy, dela Rosa’s rock-star status is threatened. With a death toll of 5,800, international organizations have decried the violent campaign — but with corrupt, understaffed courts, many Filipinos still crave justice from the barrel of a gun.

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    How Pizzagate Jumped Off the Internet, Armed and Dangerous

    It was fact imitating fiction. Edgar Welch, 28, was arrested after bringing a rifle into D.C. pizza joint Comet Ping Pong in an attempt to search it for tunnels used to imprison underage sex slaves. His crusade was the byproduct of a wholly unfounded conspiracy theory born on Twitter, amplified by bots and spread by fake news sites. The fantastical layers piled onto the story included the belief that Hillary Clinton “personally murdered children,” and it’s been banned even from Reddit — but for many theorists, that just makes it more compelling.

  9. Russian Jets Blast ISIS in Ancient Palmyra, Louisianans Elect Kennedy, and Social Media is Killing Them

    Know This: Islamic State fighters have re-entered the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, but are being driven back by Russian airstrikes. Louisiana has elected Democrat-turned-Republican John Kennedy to the U.S. Senate. And 30 people have perished in a traffic accident involving a fuel tanker in Kenya.

    Send These: In honor of three-and-a-half-decades of Nevada Sen. Harry Reid’s partisan sniping, the Washington Post has created “A Very Harry Christmas,” which generates greeting cards featuring Reid’s most memorable insults, such as “I hope you go out of business,” and “Your dog is fat.” 

    Don’t Do This: The proliferation of GoPro footage on social media is stoking a deadly competitiveness among extreme athletes, inspiring ever riskier, live-streamed and increasingly fatal stunts.


  1. Abortion protest

    One Abortion Trial May Foretell America’s Future

    This could happen again. Hundreds of women die yearly due to childbirth or complications of pregnancy, while very few — only 4 in 2012 — die from abortion-related complications. But lightning strikes: Dr. Robert Rho is facing up to 15 years in prison if he’s convicted of second-degree manslaughter after Jamie Lee Morales bled to death following a botched abortion he performed. It’s a rare case — but many activists are concerned it could be a harbinger of future proceedings if Donald Trump’s potential Supreme Court appointees overturn Roe v. Wade.

  2. Algorithm

    Fake News, Meet the Artificial Intelligence Avengers

    Is it too good to be true? Existing software could be turned against fake news within a year, experts say. The phenomenon is finally coming under scrutiny, prompting Facebook and other platforms to target exaggerated or invented headlines. With the impossible volume of viral dreck coursing through social media, human fact-checkers can’t keep up. But algorithms can analyze thousands of stories at once, using sources — and even suspect clickbait headline language — as filters to hopefully reduce the number of trigger-happy vigilantes fighting fictional pizza parlor pedophiles.

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    A Private NASA for Millennials Who’ve Failed to Launch

    The secret to growing up could be constant supervision. There are young people truly struggling with transitioning to adulthood, facing crippling anxiety, mental health issues and a feeling of being unmoored from traditional narratives about maturity. Enter facilities like Yellowbrick, a controversial rehab center offering experimental treatments like transcranial magnetic stimulation and 11 p.m. curfews for privileged clients — all for about $27,500 a month. To some, such programs swindle desperate families willing to bankroll a quarter-life crisis, but advocates argue that Yellowbrick can be a last chance for its patients.

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    The Race-Conscious Book Clubs for Whites Only

    Can they get woke? Book clubs for white people exploring Black authors like James Baldwin and Michelle Alexander have sprung up around the U.S., responding to awareness of police brutality and racism. But this new American trend is fraught with contradictions. Some “white guilt” book clubs specify that they’re for white audiences — they’re meant to use Black writers to unpack their own privilege while getting a chance to make mistakes without offending. Activists have welcomed such self-education, but caution that enlightenment can’t truly happen until everybody’s in the room.

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    For Eritreans, Soccer Is Another Way Out 

    They’ve scored. Members of Eritrea’s Red Sea Camels are part of a longstanding sports tradition: Defection. Team members of the country’s national soccer team have escaped their handlers in 2007, 2009 and 2012. This time, teammates left after an away game in Botswana last year, with team member Samson Arefaine having planned the escape for years. Why do they leave? The country’s government since 1991 has been a rigid police state, with knee-jerk imprisonment and indefinite conscription — and soccer provides an escape hatch that doesn’t involve dangerous trips through Sudan or Ethiopia.