The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. anthony kennedy official scotus portrait

    Kennedy Retirement Rumor Augurs High Court Shift

    He turns 81 next month. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s clerks’ accelerated reunion plans have fueled speculation that he’d announce his retirement when the court wraps up its nine-month term tomorrow. Serving for three decades since his appointment by President Ronald Reagan, Kennedy’s generally aligned with the court’s conservative majority. But his swing vote has also enabled a 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriages and other liberal rulings, meaning a new Donald Trump appointee could move the court rightward and, one legal activist predicted, sound the “death knell” for legal abortions.

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    Tanker Truck Fire Kills Scores in Pakistan

    More than 140 people died and 100 were injured in a fuel truck fire in eastern Pakistan. The vehicle reportedly tipped over today while turning in Bahawalpur district and its valuable cargo poured out. “People of the area and passersby had started gathering fuel,” said a local official, meaning many of the victims were covered in the volatile fluid when, according to a rescue worker, someone tried to light a cigarette, sparking the blaze. In a statement, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed “deep grief” over the incident directed that survivors be provided with “full medical assistance.”

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    GOP Senators Far From United on Health Care

    Let the healing begin. After the Senate bill to replace Obamacare was unveiled Thursday, Sen. Ted Cruz doubted “it has the votes to pass.” He’s joined four colleagues opposing the current language, including Sen. Rand Paul, who complained it’s like “keeping Obamacare.” Moderates worry its Medicaid cuts will pull the rug from under opioid-addicted constituents, and two of them decry the legislation’s Planned Parenthood defunding. If Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can satisfy 50 of 53 Republicans by this week’s vote, it would, observers say, be nothing short of a legislative miracle.

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    If Voters Won’t Help Democrats, There’s Always Russia

    They’re back to square one. Democrats failed to chip away support from President Donald Trump and the GOP Congress in Tuesday’s special election in Georgia, falling four points short of victory. Now it’s back to Russiagate, which Trump reinvigorated Friday, tweeting — a day after he said an intelligence assessment detailing Russian election meddling was a “HOAX” — that the Obama Administration “did nothing about” Russian election meddling. He also said earlier that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s relationship with ousted FBI director James Comey was “very bothersome,” perhaps preparing the ground for another dismissal.

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    The Curious Decline of Neoliberal Britain

    They’re letting laissez-faire be. As anger over growing inequality in the U.K. begins to move voters, a struggling Conservative Party appears to be shedding the small-government, free-market ethos popularized during the Margaret Thatcher era. With its confusing “neoliberal” label, the philosophy that helped privatize British railroads and other government services now seems a liability. Even before socialist Jeremy Corbyn snapped away Tory support in the June 8 elections, Theresa May’s party had already declared it had rejected “untrammeled free markets” and “selfish individualism” — signifying a kinder, gentler breed of conservative.

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    Ukraine Knows What It’s Like to Be Russia’s Cyber Punching Bag

    They know about meddling. While Americans examine evidence of Russia’s election interference, Moscow’s western neighbor already has plenty of harrowing cyberwarfare stories to tell. Russia or its surrogates have targeted virtually every part of Ukrainian society — from elections to electricity — reportedly to cause chaos in a country the Kremlin desperately wants to restore to its political orbit. Whether sabotaging TV broadcast systems or sparking city-wide blackouts, Russian cyberattackers in Ukraine seem to have proven they’re ready to take on someone their own size.

  7. Modi to Visit DC, Cholera Kills 1,300 in Yemen and Ivanka Must Defend Her Shoe

    The Week Ahead: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit President Trump at the White House on Monday. The Congressional Budget Office plans to release its Senate health care bill cost estimate the same day. And new South Korean President Moon Jae-in is also scheduled to visit the White House on Thursday and Friday amid mounting tensions over the North Korean nuclear threat.

    Know This: The U.N. reports that Yemen is suffering the world’s worst cholera outbreak, which has killed more than 1,300 people. Some 2,500 rescue workers are digging to find 109 people missing after a landslide killed at least 24 in China’s Sichuan Province. A U.S. federal judge has ordered presidential daughter Ivanka Trump to testify in an Italian firm’s lawsuit against her company for allegedly ripping off a shoe design. And police say the Texas mother of two toddlers who died in a hot car May 26 has admitted to locking them inside as punishment.

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  1. north korea health care death shutterstock 125632178

    How Sick Is North Korea?

    The prognosis isn’t good. With an idealistic eye toward reunification, South Korean researchers are using a long-term study to assess the health and development of some 1,100 North Koreans who’ve escaped to the peninsula’s southern half. These mentally and physically scarred refugees tell of surviving a society where 70 percent suffer protracted “food insecurity,” and where the best medicine comes from black marketeer doctors and Chinese folk traditions. Their data has taken on special relevance with Americans demanding answers about U.S. student Otto Warmbier, who died after 17 months in the Hermit Kingdom’s care.

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    Sustainable Startups Are Electrifying Africa

    It’s a glimmer of hope. By 2040, experts predict, a half-billion sub-Saharan inhabitants still won’t have electricity as power grids remain out of reach. But startups are rewriting that history, taking advantage of more affordable and efficient photovoltaic generation — and a surplus of sunshine. For $13 down and $8 a month — paid wirelessly — Tanzania-based Off-Grid Electric provides a solar panel, battery, phone charger, LED lights and a radio. It might not run freezers, but it’s gradually connecting remotest Africa to the empowered world.

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    Who Do You Call When Your Stalker Is a Cop?

    You have the right to remain silent. For domestic abuse victims whose tormentors are police officers, that can seem like their only option. Law enforcement skills, such as projecting a “command presence” and using pressure points to subdue suspects, make some members of the force masters of psychological and physical abuse, while their access to official databases helps them track down terrified partners wherever they might hide. In Delaware, two women have filed criminal complaints against the same state trooper — and victims’ advocates are making noise in a quest for justice.

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    Metrosexual Ken and His Rainbro Coalition

    Are you a man or a little plastic man? Ken dolls — Barbie’s perennial boyfriends — are striving to be both, with toymaker Mattel trying to resuscitate sputtering sales with a radical new look for the iconic eunuch. Several looks, actually: Rather than manufacturing Ken and Barbie’s “friends” to add diversity, Ken and Barbie themselves are available in a variety of races, body types, wardrobes and ideologies, offering hope they’ll improve kids’ self-esteem — just as Mattel hopes it’ll boost profits somewhere between wide-eyed gift-opening and sadistic dismemberment.

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    Cord-Cutters Dashing Diamond Dreams

    It seemed like a home run. The Philadelphia Phillies haven’t exactly dominated baseball, so when they secured a $2.5 billion, 25-year contract for Comcast to air their games, it was a dream come true. It theoretically allows them to lavish the proceeds on top players, just like the chumps-to-champs Chicago Cubs did. But web-happy viewers are cord-cutting in droves, potentially bankrupting these cable cash cows. So fans may delight in streaming their Phils under a new league deal with Facebook, but come October, their path might not be a cake walk.