The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Dozens Die in Suspected Chemical Attack in Idlib

    The photographs can’t yet be verified. But human rights and monitoring groups say that 58 people died, including nine children, and scores more were wounded in an attack on Khan Sheikhoun in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province. Victims’ symptoms were consistent with chemical weapons. Observers, who posted photos on social media, said they vomited, foamed at the mouth and died of asphyxiation. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the airstrikes were carried out by Syrian government or Russian jets. Bashar Assad’s army has denied it uses chemical weapons.

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    Sessions’ Justice Department to Review Police Reform Initiatives

    He’d rather be hands-off. Several high-profile police shootings of civilians spurred the Obama administration to institute reviews of local police departments and suggest potential reforms to improve relations between officers and the populations they serve. But Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered a review of all of those policies, saying reform agreements and “consent decrees” in Baltimore, Seattle, Cleveland and other cities aren’t the Justice Department’s job. In response, the ACLU slammed Sessions’ assessment that police shootings are the fault of “individual bad actors” rather than toxic culture.

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    Tesla Passes Ford to Become Second-Largest US Carmaker

    It’s all about speed — and market value. Tesla’s stock soared yesterday, pushing the company’s value to $48.7 billion, while Ford, established a century earlier, stalled at $45.6 billion. Other electric cars saw downturns as gas prices plunged, but Tesla defied the odds and managed to stay robust, reinforcing the idea that the internal combustion engine won’t always be the auto industry norm. Though both General Motors and Ford have maintained steady growth since the financial crisis, analysts say Tesla’s futuristic image may attract more forward-thinking investors.

  4. The Filibuster, Busted Credit and the Immigration Lottery

    Know This: While Senate Democrats likely have enough votes to filibuster Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination, Republicans could choose the “nuclear option” to end the loophole for good. The S&P has downgraded South Africa’s credit rating to “junk.” And the White House and the Freedom Caucus are reportedly considering tweaks that could revive Trumpcare.

    Remember This Number: 85,000. That’s how many H-1B visas are available for highly skilled workers to enter the U.S. per fiscal year. This year’s lottery opened yesterday and is expected to fill up in a matter of days.

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    The Fight Over Senatorial Blue Slips

    This could trump the courts. With Republicans in control of Congress, President Donald Trump is now looking to tip the judiciary — which has thwarted his two travel bans — to the right. Standing in his way is the fabled blue slip, which has for over a century been a key judicial step despite being more custom than law. Blue slips, the legislative filibuster’s judicial cousin, let home-state senators advise the Judiciary Committee on nominees. But Republicans may toss them both in their haste to tip the scales while they have the chance.

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    Electric Field Therapy Cap May Fight Deadly Brain Tumors

    Hats off to this discovery. Researchers studying patients with the aggressive brain cancer glioblastoma multiforme found the five-year survival rate more than doubled in those who wore the Optune, a cap-like device that uses electric fields to fight new tumors by disrupting cancerous cell division. Some doctors are skeptical, waiting to see more long-term results, but others are heralding it as a victory against a particularly deadly cancer, despite its eye-popping $21,000 monthly price tag. It’s now being tested for breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancers.

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    Remains of 13th Dynasty Pyramid Discovered in Egypt

    They’re still digging. Egyptian archaeologists have discovered the remains of a pyramid some 3,700 years old in the Dahshur necropolis south of Cairo. Among the remains was a corridor structure possibly leading to inner chambers and an alabaster block bearing 10 vertical lines of hieroglyphics that are still being studied. The new find comes just weeks after another group of archaeologists unearthed a 26-foot quartzite statue within a Cairo slum, which will likely go on display at the Grand Egyptian Museum, set to open in 2018.

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    Jenna Lyons Leaves J.Crew After 26 Years

    It’s her final roar. The creative director and president of J.Crew — whose tenure made the brand iconic — is departing after a disappointing 2016 that saw sales plunge 6 percent. Lyons influenced the label with her own quirky look, becoming a fashion and Instagram icon and serving as the public face of J. Crew. But CEO Mickey Drexler said they’ve both agreed it’s “time for a change.” Lyons’ next step isn’t clear but she’ll reportedly stay on as creative adviser until December to help Somsack Sikhounmuong transition into her job.