The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. sydney australia new year's eve shutterstock 546099034

    The World Celebrates the Dawn of 2017

    Out with the old. From Sydney’s remembrances of fallen stars like David Bowie and Gene Wilder to Las Vegas’ glittering review, the world said “phew!” after 2016’s end and greeted 2017. In New York, about 2 million saw the famous ball drop at the stroke of midnight in Times Square, where singer Mariah Carey was so frustrated that her lip-syncing track glitched that she couldn’t perform “Emotions.” Istanbul celebrants suffered deadly terror, but Berliners, so recently attacked themselves, could shoot off their fireworks in peace as heavily armed police kept watch.

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    Welcome 2017, But 2016 Wasn’t All Bad

    The flute was half-full. The world saw political turmoil, terror and the deaths of cherished celebrities in 2016. But in looking back on the year gone by, try to see the good: Jordan and Lebanon didn’t collapse under the weight of so many migrants, ISIS is on its back foot and Colombia’s arranged a hard-fought peace. As green energy continues its acceleration, companies are increasingly digging into landfills to extract resources. And just think: This year promises to be even better, especially if real estate is your thing.

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    Police Hunt Gunman Who Killed 39 in Istanbul Nightclub

    The funerals are already beginning. Turkey saw multiple major terrorist attacks in 2016, and violence blighted its biggest city again just 90 minutes into 2017 when an unidentified assailant opened fire in an Istanbul nightclub packed with hundreds of revelers. As the city mourns the dozens killed in the ISIS-claimed massacre, police — who counted a colleague among the casualties — are currently searching for the attacker. He’s believed to have worked alone and escaped by blending in with stampeding partygoers after the attack.

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    Election Hacking: A Bear Hug Too Far for Congress

    They’re saying nyet. While the Republican-controlled Congress has marched in lock-step with President-elect Donald Trump on most issues, it’s not ready to roll out the red carpet for a Kremlin that U.S. intelligence agencies are convinced actively sought to influence American voters — and most recently hacked a Vermont electric utility. GOP leaders support President Obama’s ouster of Russian diplomats and other sanctions retaliating for meddling. Putin’s decided he “won’t create problems” for U.S. diplomats, choosing to delay traditional reciprocation to give an appreciative Trump a chance to repair relations.

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    Stalking the Endangered Middle Ground on Guns

    Can a social experiment trigger understanding? Gun control is perhaps the most polarizing issue in America today, and every mass shooting only seems to harden each side’s resolve. New York magazine gathered more than a dozen firearm partisans in a room for a test of radical empathy: Have gun fans and foes share their stories, then repeat what they heard in the voice of their opposite number. There were tears and shouting matches as the group members discovered that what they shared was fear and a desire for safety.

  6. Religious freedom

    Religious ‘Freedom’ for Some May Trump Others’

    Dogma could outrun karma in 2017. One of the Trump administration’s most contentious issues will be religious liberty, and things are bound to get messy. Many of Trump’s majority white Christian supporters cited Supreme Court nominations — which might swing high profile, controversial religious freedom cases — as a decisive factor in their votes. Meanwhile, Muslims, LGBTQ people and other groups fear the implications of lawmaking that breaches the church-state firewall for political Christianity’s sake. While change is likely to take time, abortion restrictions are already knocking at the Supreme Court’s door.

  7. Indonesian Ferry Fire Kills 23, Kim Jong-un Says ICBM Is Nearly Ready and Crosses Across Chicago

    Know This: A fire aboard a ferry boat near Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, has killed 23 people. Kim Jong-un says North Korea will soon test an intercontinental ballistic missile. Donald Trump says government secrets “should be sent via courier like in the old days” to thwart cyber-spying. And marchers carried more than 750 crosses through Chicago to memorialize its murder victims last year.

    Reconcile This: “‘We don’t have any chance without American backing to push back against hypocrisy and one-sidedness’ of international institutions.” — Yisrael Katz, Israeli transportation and intelligence minister, on his nation’s recent tiff with the United States over its UN abstention allowing a resolution condemning West Bank settlement activity. 

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  1. Myanmar royal palace Mandalay shutterstock 535677508

    Myanmar’s Royal Family Returns, 130 Years Later

    Heavy is the heart without its kingdom. Myanmar’s royal family was banished after the British invaded in 1885, and closely watched when they returned decades later. But the new democratically elected government in the nation also known as Burma has for the first time allowed descendants of the last monarch, King Thibaw, to visit his grave in the remote Indian town where he lived out his exile. Burmese political and religious leaders joined the ceremony marking the centennial of the king’s death, raising hopes that his body could one day return home.

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    Gene Editing Could Save or Destroy Us

    Is a new Mother Nature taking over? Bioengineer Kevin Esvelt is an evangelist for gene editing, touting its potential to eliminate Lyme disease in America and malaria in India. But as the technique becomes more accessible, the possibility grows that it could help create a biological weapon, or even run amok in the course of a well-intentioned experiment. That’s why Esvelt’s also hoping to reverse science’s secretive, corporate-controlled trajectory to usher in a new era of openness and public consent for groundbreaking research — while developing the means to reverse epic engineering failures.

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    Obama Adds to Preservation Legacy, But Will It Stand?

    There’s gold in them thar hills. In his final days in office, Barack Obama designated the 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and the 300,000-acre Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada, expanding his legacy of extending federal protection to more than 553 million acres of land and water during his eight years in office. But the incoming Trump administration, siding with opponents of federal land preservation like renegade rancher Cliven Bundy, may try to remove the designations — something that experts say might not stand up to legal scrutiny.

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    Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds Redefined Iconic Women

    They were an incomparable mother-daughter duo. The world is grieving the loss of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, two generations of performers who died just one day apart. Reynolds and Fisher’s relationship was fraught with drama beyond their roles in Singin’ in the Rain and Star Wars. Eddie Fisher left Reynolds for Elizabeth Taylor when their daughter was two years old. Carrie Fisher spent decades struggling with addiction and bipolar disorder, but her reconciliation with her mother saw one of Hollywood’s greatest families find a more personal - and meaningful - kind of success.

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    Raiders’ Unsung Receiver Could Become Playoff Star

    They won’t see him coming. Three of Seth Roberts’ 10 touchdowns in two NFL seasons have been game-winners, but he’s overshadowed by Oakland’s high first-round picks Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, who are trying to catch a division title against Denver today. No matter: The product of Pearl River (Mississippi) Community College and Division II West Alabama is used to being overlooked. After surviving his grandmother’s death, a cousin’s murder and a tough-love coach, Roberts is seizing his chance — and the playoffs have a way of making no-name receivers into heroes.