The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooting Kills Five

    People ran out onto the tarmac. A lone gunman is reportedly in custody after a shooting at Florida’s Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport today. Five people were killed, and eight others have been sent to area hospitals, following the incident in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2.  Identified as Esteban Santiago, 26, the shooter reportedly arrived from Alaska with the gun in his checked bag. Several witnesses, including former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, took to Twitter to describe panicked scenes as people fleed the area.

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    Intel Report: Vladimir Putin Ordered Election Hack

    The public is seeing red. Top intelligence officials released an unusually detailed report today to make their case that Russian President Vladimir Putin directly ordered hacks to damage Hillary Clinton’s chances in the presidential race. They also briefed president-elect Donald Trump, who has repeatedly cast doubt on spy agencies’ conclusions. After the meeting Trump for the first time acknowledged the possibility that Russia was behind the hack — but did not indicate that he believed spy agencies’ conclusions. Russia’s wide-ranging effort, they said, included covert trolling and fake news operations.

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    Russian Forces Begin Withdrawing From Syria

    They’re getting out. A December cease-fire deal included Russia’s agreement to reduce the number of troops in the region, and today that drawdown has begun, with Russia’s naval fleet reportedly the first to return to the motherland. Meanwhile, the U.N. warns that disrupting access to drinking water for 5.5 million people in Damascus is a war crime. Rebels, who control water-rich region Wadi Barada, say government bombings caused infrastructure damage, while regime forces blame rebel sabotage. Until U.N. inspectors are allowed to investigate, they say they can’t make a determination.

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    Mexico Erupts in Protests After Gas Price Hike

    It’s the “gasolinazo.” That’s the informal name for the 20 percent fuel price increase that took effect in Mexico on New Year’s Day, spurring protests that have blocked highways and shut down gas stations. A police officer was killed and more than 250 people have been arrested this week for vandalism and robbery as some riots turned to looting. The price hike is part of a national energy reform plan, which will keep prices high until Feb. 3 — the day private companies start importing fuel and competing for customers.

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    Toyota Protests Trump’s Twitter Disparagement

    What a difference a tweet makes. Shortly after Toyota said it looked forward to working with the incoming administration, Donald Trump tweeted “NO WAY!” about a new Corolla plant in Mexico, saying the company must build cars in the U.S. or face huge tariffs. Toyota responded that it has invested $21.9 billion and employs 136,000 people in the U.S., while Japan defended the company as “a good corporate citizen.” It’s Trump’s first such attack against a foreign auto company, and Nissan’s CEO called on the president-elect to establish “clear rules” for carmakers.

  6. Hate Crimes, Diplomatic Retaliation and the PDB Quiz

    Know This: The U.S. unemployment rate edged up in December to 4.7 percent. Suspects in the Chicago torture case have been charged with hate crimes. Japan has recalled its ambassador to South Korea over a statue commemorating Korean women kept as sex slaves for soldiers during Japanese occupation. And survivors of a helicopter crash in Venezuela have been rescued after six days.

    Try This: Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB quiz.

    Talk to Us:  We want your feedback on the Presidential Daily Brief — what you think we’re doing right and what we should be doing differently. Send us an email at


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    Transgender Americans Rush for Documentation

    Progress is about to be reversed. Many transgender people have only seen an upward trajectory toward visibility and equal rights during President Obama’s tenure. But with added visibility comes the potential for backlash, and trans people are bracing themselves for hostility and legal discrimination under the next administration. This week lawmakers in Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky filed “bathroom bills” similar to North Carolina’s controversial HB2. Meanwhile, administrative routes to changing gender on federal documents may be increasingly difficult, leaving many trans people scrambling for vital paperwork and medical treatment before the inauguration.

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    Digital Assistants and Artificial Intelligence Wow at CES

    Can you hear me now? In the tech frenzy of the Consumer Electronics Show’s opening yesterday, Amazon’s Alexa is looking like the home assistant to beat, with everything from smoke alarms to household appliances to cars taking advantage of its voice-activated platform. Alexa’s ubiquity is notable as fellow tech titans Google, Microsoft and Facebook stalk the same space — with 40 million homes projected to have assistants by 2021. Sharing the spotlight was chip-maker Nvidia, whose GPUs are the backbone for all kinds of artificial intelligence applications.

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    Utah Bill Would Allow Residents to Sue Porn-Makers

    The Beehive State is going hardcore. Nine months after Utah passed a law declaring pornography a public health crisis, the state senator behind the measure is continuing to follow the playbook that worked against Big Tobacco. Sen. Todd Weiler wants to give citizens the chance to sue internet pornography companies for psychological and emotional damage. Weiler, an attorney, concedes that the initial cases will likely fail but wants his state at the forefront of fighting the industry. Lawmakers in Virginia and Tennessee are also probing anti-porn public health pushes.

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    Golden Globes Will Be ‘Acknowledging’ Celebrity Deaths

    Nothing gold can stay. While this weekend’s awards show is normally the most upbeat of the season — meaning it doesn’t feature an In Memoriam tribute to fallen stars like the Oscars does — organizers say that in light of the recent deaths of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, producers of the 74th Golden Globes are in last-minute talks over how to honor them. Expect a tribute of some kind in Sunday’s Jimmy Fallon-hosted show, along with a showdown between top movie nominees La La Land and Moonlight.

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    Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon Turns Pro, Despite Assault

    He’s got some explaining to do. The Sooners running back, who was suspended for the 2014 season for punching a woman, says he’ll be honest and remorseful when interviewing with NFL teams. He tearfully apologized last month after his attorneys released surveillance video showing the victim shoving and slapping Mixon before he slugged her, breaking her jaw, eye socket and cheekbone. Despite an outcry, Mixon remained on the field, scoring two touchdowns in Monday’s Sugar Bowl. The incident is expected to knock him out of the first round of April’s draft.