The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Mattis Freezes Transgender Military Ban Pending Study

    He’s asking for a second opinion. U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has announced that transgender troops will continue to serve until a panel of experts can study and develop President Trump’s new policy banning them. The panel will aim to measure the impact of the prohibition — tweeted spontaneously by the commander in chief in July — on the military’s preparedness and capability. Mattis’ move follows the president’s Friday directive, which gave the defense secretary six months to implement the transgender ban — or provide alternatives that the president would “find convincing.”

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    Death Toll Rises as Houston Begins Slow Hurricane Recovery

    It’s the “new normal.” That’s how Texas Gov. Greg Abbott described Houston after Hurricane Harvey, saying the state’s not even able to assess the extent of the damage yet amid record-breaking rainfall. As the death toll rose to at least nine, recovery prospects are already being compared to the aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. This effort will take years, officials say, with at least 450,000 people expected to apply for federal help and shelters overburdened with evacuees. President Donald Trump traveled to the storm-ravaged state, where he praised the recovery effort but said it was too early for “congratulations.” 

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    ‘Reckless’ North Korean Missile Test Crosses Japan

    Was it an act of war? Japan’s Prime Minister pulled few punches in condemning North Korea’s latest provocation, which saw a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile pass over Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido. The once-in-a-decade occurrence set off emergency alerts urging residents to take cover. While some theorized that Pyongyang is trying to bring the U.S. to the negotiating table, the White House responded that the launch means “all options are on the table,” while South Korea ordered a live-fire air force drill in a stark warning to their northern neighbors.

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    Trump Associate Boasted Moscow Deal Would Clinch Election

    “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it.” So wrote Felix Sater, reportedly an associate of President Trump, talking up a Moscow business deal he hoped would draw voters. He wrote to the president’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, that he would “get all of Putins team to buy in on this.” Cohen says he discussed the deal with Trump during the campaign, but abandoned it in January 2016. While intelligence agencies agree Russia interfered in the election, investigators are still digging into the Trump campaign’s possible knowledge or involvement.

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    Despite Union Backing, Macron’s Labor Reforms in Doubt

    He’s got to do something. With unemployment topping 9 percent in France, President Emmanuel Macron is pushing ahead with major labor reforms meant to loosen the country’s employment laws along with its job market. He’s negotiated to win backing from several big unions, but that could crumble as workers see the details of the plan, to be unveiled this week. Many worry that Macron, whose approval ratings have been sinking recently, will betray their trust — and the nation’s largest labor confederation has already called a pre-emptive strike for next month.

  6. Sheriff Joe, the Future of Weather and Ant Boats

    Know This: President Trump has defended his controversial pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of racial profiling and accused of human rights violations, calling him “a patriot.” An Indian guru convicted of rape has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. And scientists say Hurricane Harvey’s violence should be treated as a sign of many more storms to come. 

    Watch This: Fire ants are reportedly surviving flooding in Houston by linking their bodies together to make floating bug rafts.

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    On UK Campuses, Free Speech Means No Tabloids

    The debate continues — within limits. The Sun and The Daily Mail are Britain’s most widely read papers — though they’re known for whipping up anti-immigrant fervor and in one infamous Sun column, comparing refugees to cockroaches. In response, at least 20 university campuses have reportedly banned the sale of these and other right-wing papers, a semi-symbolic move that some applaud for holding the publications to account. Others, though, point out that it’s important to engage with these papers’ positions — even if defeating them is the goal.

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    This First Aid Kit Tells You How to Stop the Bleeding

    Can this app cheat death? Mobilize Rescue Systems has taken first aid to a new level, selling a kit with a built-in iPad loaded with an interactive app providing step-by-step triage and treatment. In a world where traumatic injuries are the leading killer of Americans younger than 47, many of whom work where trained medics are 20 minutes away, it might improve survival odds. But the prohibitive price — between $1,750 and $2,250 — could keep it out of reach when disaster strikes.

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    Why Did a Coastal Haze Afflict English Beachgoers?

    Fie, what a mist is here! Doctors treated some 150 people Sunday after an eerie, noxious haze drifted off the English Channel and onto England’s Sussex coast. Authorities advised people to shut their windows near the beach as police and scientists puzzled over the case, scrambling to pinpoint the cause of the mysterious vapor that irritated eyes and throats while causing some to vomit. So far, the theories include an industrial leak in northern France, a chemical spill or, reportedly most probable, a sudden blooming of toxic algae offshore.

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    Actor Leaves Hellboy Reboot Amid Whitewashing Fallout

    He wasn’t exactly immersed in the role. A week after announcing he’d been cast as Maj. Ben Daimio in the upcoming Hellboy reboot, actor Ed Skrein has quit amid whitewashing acrimony. He said he didn’t realize the original character was of Asian heritage, and referenced Hollywood’s “worrying tendency” toward casting white actors in such roles — as were Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell and Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange. Prominent actors like Ken Jeong and Ming Na-Wen praised Skrein’s decision online, hoping it’ll lead to more nonwhite casting.

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    Sharapova Unseats No. 2 Seed at US Open

    She’s got the juice. Maria Sharapova’s first Grand Slam appearance since her doping suspension 19 months ago saw her enter as a wild card and immediately defeat second-seeded Simona Halep 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. Despite her placement, Halep’s neither won a Grand Slam nor beaten Sharapova — ranked world No. 1 five times — after seven matches between the two. The renowned Russian, who plays unseeded Timea Babos next, has faced recent criticism from fans and fellow players, but this win shows she’s back in the game.