The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Gulf Coast Braces for Hurricane Harvey

    Tens of thousands are clearing out. Across the Texas coast, the first day of school was canceled as residents evacuated ahead of what’s forecast to be the most powerful storm to hit the U.S. since Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Hurricane Harvey, predicted to make landfall as a category 3 storm tonight or early tomorrow, is expected to slow down and linger over the southern U.S. for days, causing maximum destruction and dropping 35 inches of precipitation. Louisiana and Texas have already declared states of disaster in order to prepare for the advancing tempest.

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    Thai Ex-Leader Misses Sentencing, May Have Fled

    She’s not there. Thailand’s Supreme Court has issued an arrest warrant for former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, after she failed to appear before the court to hear the verdict of a two-year corruption case surrounding her government’s rice subsidy program. Yingluck’s lawyer claimed the former prime minister was ill, but the excuse was rejected by the court and her $900,000 bail money confiscated. Now officials are monitoring the borders as sources in her party say she’s fled — as her brother, Thaksin, did in 2008 to avoid jail time.

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    Report Urges President to Shrink National Monuments

    The details aren’t public yet. But Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has reportedly advised President Donald Trump to reduce the size of at least three national monuments created or expanded under previous administrations, including Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou and Utah’s Bears Ears. Zinke, who’s said he doesn’t think the government should “restrict public access” or “burden private land” in areas vital for economic or recreational purposes, also wants to allow fishing in some restricted areas. It’s not clear when Trump might act on the proposal, but it’s expected to trigger legal battles.

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    Samsung Heir Sentenced to Five Years in Jail

    The party’s over. The corruption scandal that brought down South Korea’s president has now dealt a blow to its largest company, with a five-year jail sentence handed down to Samsung leader Jay Y. Lee for bribery. It’s one of the longest terms ever given to a corporate executive in Korea. Lee, 49, has also been found guilty of embezzlement and hiding assets overseas — but denies all wrongdoing. His lawyers say he’ll appeal, but the verdict may stunt Lee’s plans to officially take over Samsung from his ailing father.

  5. Takeovers, an Execution and the PDB Quiz

    Know This: As Amazon takes over Whole Foods, aka “Whole Paycheck,” its first step is slashing prices. Florida yesterday executed Mark Asay — the first white person in state history put to death for killing a Black person — with an experimental drug cocktail. And San Francisco Bay Area dog owners are showing opposition to a local alt-right demonstration by carpeting the rally grounds with dog poop.

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

    Join us LIVE:  OZY and WGBH are bringing you a terrific new TV show, Third Rail With OZY— premiering Friday, Sept. 8 at 8:30 p.m. on PBS — and we want YOU to be part of our live studio audience! Sign up here to attend a taping of this hot new primetime show. You won’t want to miss it.


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    Right-Boosting Russia Draws the Line at Nazis

    They hate those guys. The Kremlin had long played along with President Trump’s extreme rhetoric as he lionized Vladimir Putin — meanwhile cultivating the American right’s faith-based, family-oriented, anti-immigrant agenda. But Trump’s failure to instinctively condemn Charlottesville’s swastika-toting marchers crossed a bright red line. Defeating Hitler’s Germany as 27 million Soviet citizens died is a key pillar of national pride, and Russian media has expressed dismay over the president’s equivocation. While relations had already soured, indulging the ghosts of fascism may forever taint Moscow’s favorite U.S. leader.

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    Blockchain Could Help Find Tainted Food

    They’re watching what you eat. A group of major grocery stores and food processors, hoping to prevent foodborne illnesses, are trying out a blockchain-based system to track food as it moves along supply chains — and into your digestive tract. The autonomous chunks of code, developed for cryptocurrencies, can potentially unite farmers, distributors, packagers and retailers — now using disparate produce documentation — under a secure digital umbrella that enables quick isolation of contaminated lots. Walmart’s already using a pilot version, suggesting that you might soon be stocking the fridge with encoded comestibles.

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    Women at Work Find Safety in Numbers

    Never go into battle without backup. A new study of two large, male-dominated U.S. firms found that women are more likely to consider female coworkers “difficult” — but it’s a game changer when women befriend each other. Using data from 145 management-level employees, the study shows that forging those ties provides a double-whammy: It eliminates potential enmity and creates an ally and confidante. In particular, the study highlights the importance of friendships with women in male-dominated workspaces, where isolation and unhealthy competition could otherwise thrive.

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    Tablet May Show Babylonians Invented Trigonometry

    It was a sine of the times. The Plimpton 322 tablet, discovered in the early 1900s in what is now Iraq, has long divided mathematicians confused by its columns and rows of numbers. But researchers from the University of New South Wales now say the 3,700-year-old broken clay tablet is a trigonometric table. That would mean the Babylonians were 1,000 years ahead of the Greeks, who are credited with creating trig. Skeptical colleagues say that while it’s a fascinating interpretation, they’ve yet to be convinced that the tablet proves Mesopotamian math mastery.

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    Betting Surge Shifts Mayweather’s Odds

    The smart money’s on the boxer. A flurry of last-minute, big money bets has skewed the odds for Saturday’s megafight in Las Vegas further toward Floyd Mayweather Jr. Several topped $1 million, the largest clocking in at $1.2 million — but with a payout of only $240,000 because the champ’s so heavily favored. His fight with MMA star Conor McGregor is expected to be the most wagered fight ever, with betting outlets reporting more wagers on the underdog, but more money on Mayweather.