The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Harvey Moves North as Houston Chemical Plant Blows

    There was no way to stop it. While Houston’s flooding recedes, Harvey is on the move, expected to dump as much as eight inches of rain across Louisiana and Mississippi today. New Orleans, which isn’t in its path, has organized relief efforts for Houston in solidarity. Meanwhile residents around the Houston-area Arkema chemical plant evacuated after the CEO said its organic peroxide would overheat and ignite without power for refrigeration. True to his word, explosions at the plant have already begun to blanket the area in black smoke, though authorities said it wasn’t toxic.

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    U.S. Closes Russia’s San Francisco Consulate

    It’s payback time. The U.S. government on Thursday told Russia to shutter its consulate in San Francisco, as well as two smaller facilities in New York and Washington, amid an ongoing political tit-for-tat between the two countries. The move was a response to Russia’s reduction last month of U.S. diplomatic staff in Moscow and St. Petersburg — itself an answer to a fresh round of U.S. sanctions against the Kremlin. While American officials have urged Russia not to respond this time, it seems unlikely that Moscow will let it slide.

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    Mumbai Building Collapses, Killing 11, After Floods

    It’s a deadly trend. The third building collapse in Mumbai in a month has left 11 dead, found by rescuers who have pulled 24 survivors from the ruins of the six-story residential tower. Police reportedly suspect that the building, estimated to be 110 years old, was weakened by Tuesday’s torrential monsoon-fed flooding before it toppled over today. Eight or nine families were living in the building, and the collapse may force Mumbai authorities to answer questions about lax housing regulations — and to change rules that put residents at risk.

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    New Uber CEO Says Expect IPO in 18-36 Months

    It’s coming. Newly installed Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has laid out a road map for the company’s initial public offering, which he says is 18 to 36 months away. The former Expedia chief seems eager to shake things up at the privately held ride sharing service: Hired just two days ago, Khosrowshahi has also pledged to fix up Uber’s notorious work culture, which saw previous head Travis Kalanick bow out in June amid multiple scandals. Khosrowshahi didn’t address what, if any, role Kalanick may play in Uber’s future.


  5. Mueller’s Partner, Syria’s Hopes and a $99 Case of Water

    Know This: Special counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly teamed up with New York’s attorney general on his investigation into Paul Manafort, an associate of President Trump, and his financial dealings. In recent months, the world has lost interest in Syria’s crisis — causing rebel hopes of toppling Syrian leader Bashar Assad to dwindle. And Amazon’s being hit with a class action lawsuit brought by a couple who claim faulty eclipse glasses damaged their eyes. 

    Remember This Number: $99. That was the reported price for a case of bottled water at one Houston store, as residents make numerous hurricane disaster price gouging reports to the state attorney general’s office.

    Wanted: OZY is growing! We’re looking to hire a number of additional reporters, videographers, podcasters and editors including a top-tier technology reporter. Read more on our jobs page. And please forward to an outstanding friend who you think may be a great fit.


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    Forget the Alamo — Mexicans Are Helping Texas

    They’re crossing the border in droves. President Trump has taken repeated rhetorical swipes at Mexicans and vowed to wall them out of the U.S. But Mexico’s offered food, boats and volunteers in the wake of Houston’s Hurricane Harvey. While Trump may wince, Texas Gov. Greg Abbot has accepted, and Mexico’s consul in Austin says his nation “looks forward to doing its share.” Meanwhile, Venezuela has offered $5 million in aid via its U.S.-based company Citgo — perhaps in part because recent U.S. sanctions mean Caracas can’t repatriate its profits anyway.

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    As Seen on TV: Women Aren’t Buying It

    These aren’t the ads you’re looking for. A recent study of 400 women found that just 1.9 percent admitted to buying things they’d seen hawked on TV, and for newspaper or magazine advertising, it was just 2.2 percent. The low impact of old marketing stalwarts highlights the shift to new media: 81 percent of the same group of women said they frequently bought items seen on social media, where reviews and experiences are immediately available. Still, sellers aren’t ready to abandon the boob tube, believing it can still build brand awareness.

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    FDA Grants First OK for Personalized Gene Therapy

    Was the solution inside you all along? For the first time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a cell-based gene therapy. Called Kymriah, it can now be used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia, America’s most common childhood cancer, for patients 25 and younger. It uses a procedure called CAR-T, in which doctors remove a patient’s T-cells, modify them to attack cancerous cells, and return them to the bloodstream. If “living drugs” work, they could transform the fight against disease, and hopefully reduce Kymriah’s $475,000 cost.

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    Pepe the Frog Creator Shuts Down Alt-Right Children’s Book

    You can’t just ribbit off. Matt Furie hates that his Pepe the Frog character’s become a racist meme, and he’s battling to keep the alt-right from reaping Pepe profits. He recently nixed a children’s book set for November release, reportedly getting Texas author Eric Hauser to admit copyright infringement and make some unique restitution. Because The Adventures of Pepe and Pede (a nickname for Trump supporters) contains reputedly Islamophobic themes, the approximately $1,500 Hauser’s made from self-publishing the work will be donated to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

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    Houston Astros Return to Damaged Home City

    There’s no place like home. Astros manager A.J. Hinch says not being allowed to go there reinforces “what home means,” so his team will return to Minute Maid Park in Houston Saturday, despite rumors that the games would be moved to Florida. The double-header against the New York Mets will be the team’s first home game since Hurricane Harvey, and a chance for players to see their families. First responders have been allocated 5,000 tickets for the game, which Mayor Sylvester Turner said would give Houstonians “a much-needed boost.”