The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Trump

    Trump Kicks Off 2020 Bid, Pioneers the Permanent Campaign

    When is it too early to run? Apparently never, considering the 45th U.S. president is announcing his second-term candidacy — 29 days after taking office — at a rally in Melbourne, Fla., in which Trump promised new health care, more jobs and stronger borders. As election seasons have swollen from months to years, Trump, having run a chaotic effort in 2016, is the unlikely midwife of the “permanent campaign,” an unofficial construct until now. What’s the difference? For starters, he’ll get to control his audiences, and taxpayers might save on travel costs. 

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    Omar Abdel-Rahman, 1993 WTC Bombing Plotter, Dies in Prison

    It was a foreshadowing. The blind, Egyptian-born cleric was serving a life sentence for plotting the 1993 attack in which an bomb-laden van exploded in the garage under 2 World Trade Center, killing six and injuring hundreds. Prison officials said the inmate died today at age 78 after long battling diabetes and coronary artery disease. Though he denied involvement, he was convicted in 1995 for involvement in a broader conspiracy that would have additionally struck the Holland Tunnel, George Washington Bridge and U.N. headquarters — eight years before 9/11.

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    ‘Jane Roe’ of Landmark Supreme Court Abortion Ruling Dies at 69 

    She had a name. Norma McCorvey, whose court pseudonym “Jane Roe” still echoes across America’s political divide, died of heart failure today in Texas. At 22, unmarried and pregnant, she challenged Texas’ law against abortions. In 1973, the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade 7-2, legalizing abortions nationwide, but McCorvey had given birth and put her child up for adoption. After a decade of anonymity, she went public, campaigning for, then, after becoming a born-again Christian, against legalized abortion, mirroring a struggle that continues to separate her countrymen.

  4. Trump

    Trump Goes to War Against the Press

    It’s been the “exact opposite” of chaos. That’s President Trump’s assessment of Week 4, in which he fired his national security adviser over lying about Russian contacts, failed to attract a replacement and faced new leaks on other associates’ pre-election Kremlin communications. On Thursday he blasted the “dishonest” news media and said he had “no deals in Russia.” He escalated the attack Friday, tweeting that top media outlets were “the enemy of the American people” while Republican Sen. John McCain ominously warned that America’s authoritarian flirtations should be “all too familiar” to Germans.

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    The Far-Out Left Fights ISIS in Syria

    “No State/No Caliphate” is their motto. In northern Syria’s Rojava region, a Kurdish experiment in anarchist civil society is taking off — and attracting hundreds of leftist internationals. Unlike other factions, Kurdish fighters are non-sectarian and inspired by their imprisoned guerrilla leader — a secular, feminist, anarcho-libertarian former communist. The region’s “Rojava Revolution” is the product of a Kurdish movement that’s fought bloody battles against ISIS for years. Now, with knowledge of their ideology spreading beyond their borders, more foreign, Noam Chomsky-reading idealists are being asked to take up the struggle.

  6. Angela Merkel

    Angela Merkel May Have Met Her Match

    It’s Mutti vs. the prodigal son. Seemingly invincible, despite helping precipitate the European refugee crisis, the world’s most powerful woman was on track for a third term as Germany’s chancellor. But last month, the moribund center-left Social Democrats elevated Martin Schulz, a troubled youth-turned-European Parliament leader, as their candidate, gaining the party vitality it hadn’t seen in decades. Now Merkel, the somber pragmatist whose conservative Christian Democratic base is being eroded by a far-right Alternative für Deutschland, is polling even with the optimistic Schulz, with months to go before September elections.

  7. Pence Says Trump’s ‘Unwavering’ in NATO Commitment, Malaysians Arrest North Korean in Kim Kin Murder and McCain’s Warning

    Know This: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told European officials at the Munich Security Conference that the U.S. will continue to “strongly suppport” NATO. Malaysian authorities have arrested a North Korean in Kim Jong Un’s brother’s murder. And storms blowing through central and Southern California have killed two people.

    Shadows of History: “I fear that much about it would be all-too-familiar to them … They would be alarmed by an increasing turn away from universal values and toward old ties of blood, and race, and sectarianism.” — Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain, anticipating how his German hosts at the Munich Security Conference would view the direction America’s new administration is taking.

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    Israel’s New Trend: Orthodox Single Moms

    Who says you need a man? In Israel, a growing trend has seen a 60 percent increase in single mothers across the nation between 2000 and 2011. Many have experienced divorce, separation or death, but others, including members of a large Orthodox community, have chosen to procreate alone. One Orthodox feminist leader says that a protracted search for a husband “should not be a reason … to remain childless,” and artificial insemination offers women a chance to realize one of God’s commandments even if marriage during fertile years isn’t in the cards.

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    The Macedonian Capital of Fake News

    They wagged the dog. The town of Veles, population 55,000, became famous immediately after the U.S. presidential election as the base for at least 100 pro-Trump sites generating fake political news. For inhabitants who cribbed and copied alt-right screeds and registered with Google AdSense, the 2016 election was a gold rush of access to thousands of hungry American browser clickers. But now some of the website gurus there, concerned about President Trump’s potential effect on the world, are beginning to regret the very real news that seems to have sprung from their handiwork.

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    The Hot Mess That Made Europe Rich

    Call it competitive tension. Europe wasn’t always the world’s richest mass of nations. But emerging from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance and beyond, something remarkable happened, according to economics and history professor Joel Mokyr. “Productive competition” spurred by international rivalries stimulated intellectual and technological advances stifled by more unified societies like China’s. When Galileo’s “heretical” books were banned in Italy, they were smuggled across borders. Inventions from the microscope to steam engines prodded other nations’ scientists to new discoveries — leading all the way to the U.S.-Soviet rivalry that put men in space and still reverberates today.

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    How Internment Spurred a Generation of Designers

    Out of darkness, light. In the little known history of Japanese-American designers, inspiration grew from the attacks on Pearl Harbor and the infamous Executive Order 9066 that followed. For the 119,000 people confined to “relocation centers,” the common narrative of discrimination, resourcefulness and revelation entwine with the personal evolution of some of the finest Japanese American designers and their work, from Disney animation to the Corvette Stingray to book covers like The Godfather. Detained out of fear, they were forced to adapt, teaching lessons of dignity and unity that continue to resonate.

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    Rio Olympic Venues Left to Decay

    The podium’s empty. Not even six months have passed since the Games, but the iconic rings have been tarnished by derelict stadiums and broken promises, leaving Rio de Janeiro’s citizens with a bitter aftertaste. While many Olympics have left mixed legacies involving debt and underuse, Brazil’s seems to eclipse previous examples, with numerous vacant structures setting speed records for earning “white elephant” status. Now shuttered, these buildings have become monuments to planning overreach, while private developers — none of whom submitted bids to repurpose the Olympic Park — and local governments struggle to save face.