The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Syrian Regime: We Have Reclaimed Aleppo

    They’re back. Assad’s troops claim to have regained full control of the ancient city — once Syria’s largest. The U.N. says more than 34,000 people have been evacuated from the former industrial hub since last Thursday and taken to rebel-held areas in the countryside. But this victory for President Assad, fueled in part by Russian air strikes, turns the tide on fours of rebel control in the city, signaling a huge win for the regime.

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    Berlin Market Attack Suspect Shot Dead in Italy

    The fingerprints are a match. Italian authorities say that Anis Amri, the 24-year-old Tunisian national suspected of killing 12 people by plowing a truck into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin Monday, was killed early this morning in a shootout with police in Milan. Amri had previously lived in Italy before arriving in Germany, and spent time in jail there for arson. Hours after his death, video footage emerged of Amri pledging allegiance to ISIS. Meanwhile,  German authorities have arrested two brothers suspected of planning another attack, this one on a shopping mall.

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    Christmas Market Attack Suspect Was Known to Police

    He may be armed and dangerous. European authorities are hunting for Anis Amri, 24, after his ID was found in the truck that plowed into a Berlin Christmas market on Monday, killing 12 people. Amri, a Tunisian national who came to Germany last year after reportedly spending four years in jail for arson in Italy, was under surveillance by German authorities earlier this year when they suspected him of organizing a robbery to pay for guns. Now police are offering a $104,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.

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    Trump Taps China Hawk to Trade Post, Weighs Tariffs

    Here come the czars. Donald Trump named strident China critic Peter Navarro to lead a new White House office overseeing trade, while billionaire Carl Icahn will be a special adviser and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway will serve as counselor. The transition team is also reportedly considering hiking tariffs on imports from China and elsewhere. Russia, meanwhile, says dialogue has “frozen” with the Obama administration, with a more welcoming crowd on the way. For Trump, engaging Russia and confronting China adds up to what OZY Editor-in-Chief Carlos Watson calls a “reverse Kissinger.”

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    North Carolina Fails to Repeal ‘Bathroom Bill’

    They had a deal. But a bipartisan bargain — the rollback of Charlotte’s LGBT protection ordinance in exchange for the repeal of controversial transgender bathroom law HB2 — went sour: The state GOP refused to hold up their half of the bargain after Democrats had already repealed the Charlotte protections. North Carolina saw political and financial fallout from HB2 this year as companies, entertainers and the NBA pulled out of the state in protest. Meanwhile, the ACLU says that if legislators won’t respect LGBT rights, they’ll “see them in court.”

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    Uber Pumps the Brakes on California Self-Driving Fleet

    Sometimes it’s better to ask permission than forgiveness. The ride-hailing firm had been running a trial of autonomous cars — allowing San Francisco passengers to opt for self-driving mode — and it argued that because the vehicles had safety drivers they didn’t require special permits. It turns out the DMV disagreed and threatened legal action. So Uber, which previously tested autonomous cars in Pittsburgh, has halted the California trial run. It’s not clear if they’ll restart the test down the road or move to another state.

  7. Terror Plot Thwarted, Too Grande to Fail, Overnights at Ikea and the World’s Tallest Christmas Tree

    Know This: Australian police say they thwarted a planned Christmas Day terror attack in Melbourne with seven arrests of Islamic State-inspired suspects. Italy’s preparing a state bailout for its struggling Monte dei Paschi di Siena bank. There’s likely to be an eggnog shortage this holiday season. And furniture giant Ikea is very unhappy about a fad for in-store sleepovers.

    Remember This Number: 325 feet. That’s the planned height for the tallest-ever Christmas tree, currently under construction in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

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  1. us capitol looking up shutterstock 53141155

    New Congress, New Rules … But How Much Will Change?

    They’re not going nuclear yet. Senate Republicans aren’t ready to scrap the filibuster — via the so-called “nuclear option” — but it will be under discussion, as smaller-scale rule changes greet the new Congress. The House could make tweaks to further empower rank-and-file members, and the Senate might make it harder to increase government spending. Budgeting every other year would waylay the perennial game of government-shutdown chicken, but Republicans might only go for it if they’re confident of keeping power for another cycle.

  2. Snapchat

    Snapchat Opens Office in China Despite Ban

    The future’s so bright they gotta wear shades. Snap, Inc. is hiring in China — despite the fact that Snapchat, its signature app, is banned there, along with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The company seems to have long-term plans for China: The Shenzhen office will reportedly focus on developing Spectacles, the video-recording glasses swiftly becoming Snap’s next big thing. With China leading many technological advances — and boasting the world’s greatest number of internet users — it may only be a matter of time before Snap goes mainstream.

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    Italy’s Sleeping Supervolcano May Be Stirring

    It’s alive … again. A massive supervolcano has been dormant beneath Naples for 500 years, but scientists warn it could be reawakening. Campi Flegrei began showing worrying signs of activity in 2005, and a new study suggests it’s reaching critical levels, putting the three million Italians in the Naples area at risk. Scientists think this caldera may have started a “volcanic winter” causing the extinction of Neanderthals around 40,000 years ago — but they note that current activity may not result in eruption, and predictions at this point are virtually impossible.

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    New High for Peak TV: 455 Scripted Shows Aired in 2016

    Binge away. As broadcast networks, cable and streaming services continue to churn out quality content, a calculation by FX found there were 8 percent more original scripted shows this year than in 2015 — and a stunning 71 percent more than five years ago. But it turns out there were fewer shows on broadcast television: Streaming services like Amazon Prime are responsible for the entire increase. And expect more in 2017, as Netflix has pledged to scale up from 600 to 1,000 hours of original programming.

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    Duke Suspends Grayson Allen Indefinitely After Trip

    The third time was not a charm. Late in the first half of yesterday’s game, the Blue Devils’ star shooting guard stuck his right leg out to trip Elon’s Steven Santa Ana. Allen then threw a tantrum on the bench after being hit with a technical foul. Duke’s dominant scorer tripped opposing players twice last year and earned an Atlantic Coast Conference reprimand. After the game, he apologized and choked up, but that was too little, too late. Coach Mike Krzyzewski called the move “unacceptable,” and Allen has been suspended indefinitely.