The Presidential Daily Brief


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    North Korean Nuclear Test Draws Ire From Seoul, Washington

    “Begging for war.” That’s how U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley described Pyongyang’s attitude after claims it tested its sixth — and largest yet — nuclear bomb. The test, in direct defiance of President Trump’s threats, calls into question how effective U.S. belligerence will be in a nuclear standoff with North Korea. During an emergency Security Council session, Haley declared “enough is enough” and called for the strongest possible diplomatic measures against the reclusive regime. Meanwhile, South Korea attempted to intimidate its neighbor with a military drill simulating an attack on North Korea’s launch site.

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    Los Angeles Beats Back Massive Wildfire

    “This is not over.” So said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, warning that the La Tuna fire — which, at 5,900 acres, is the largest in the city’s history — is far from defeated, despite the efforts of over 1,000 firefighters. Still, 90 percent of the 1,400 people who evacuated after the fire erupted on Friday had returned by Sunday afternoon. Other Western states have also been fighting huge wildfires, with thousands evacuated in Montana and Washington — and Garcetti warns that changing winds could still fan the flames of California’s crisis.

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    Texas Struggles to Rebuild, Restart Oil Operations

    They’ll need a lot of cash to fuel the process. Gov. Greg Abbott estimated that his state’s recovery costs after Hurricane Harvey could be as high as $180 billion, far surpassing the cost of Hurricane Katrina. As many as 43,000 people remain in shelters after the storm devastated their homes and businesses. Meanwhile, Exxon Mobil says it’s trying to restart one of its stalled refineries, hoping to ameliorate the Harvey-stoked spike in gas prices, but success will depend on transportation availability. For now, the country’s two largest refineries remain shut.

  4. Royal Baby, Ashbery’s End and the American Dream

    Know This: Britain’s Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are expecting a third child. Beloved experimental poet John Ashbery has died at the age of 90. And a 41-year-old man has died after running past security guards and into a ceremonial fire at the Burning Man festival.

    Read This: An examination of the careers of two janitors at top companies — one in 1987, one in 2017 — illustrates the downward trajectory of social mobility in America.

    Answer This: Tell us how you really feel. OZY and WGBH are bringing you a terrific new TV show, Third Rail With OZY, launching on PBS this fall! Each Wednesday, we’ll post a provocative question, focusing on topics that might make it onto the show. This week: Should North Korea and others be allowed to have nuclear weapons if the U.S. can? Go deep. Email with your thoughts or a personal story, and we might feature your answer next week.


  1. stray dogs pups

    New Technology Gives Bangkok’s Street Dogs a Purpose

    Who’s a good boy? Marketers in Thailand have devised a new task for the strays that roam Bangkok’s streets: Keeping watch over their city. The Cheil advertising agency, working with animal welfare charity Soi Dog Foundation, is testing doggy vests armed with hidden cameras and sensors that beam back live footage whenever the wearer barks. It’s the result of a five-month project aimed at giving the Thai capital’s wild canines a new purpose, especially amid widespread cruelty that persists despite recent animal welfare legislation.

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    Fintech Could Close the Economic Civil Rights Gap

    They’re banking on its success. In the wake of the 2008 debt crisis, new financial technologies (aka fintech) are stepping in to fill the small loans gap left by a bruised and wary banking sector. By going beyond the traditional yardstick of credit scores and delving into big data, fintech could potentially sidestep issues of discrimination against minority-owned and very small firms, which saw just 29 percent of loan applications fully approved in 2015. Yet without adequate regulatory oversight in place, some worry about the potential for predatory lending.

  3. Klebsiella pneumoniae shutterstock 703251124

    Doctors Fear ‘Global Epidemic’ of Pneumonia Superstrain

    It’s the total package. A drug-resistant form of pneumonia bacterium Klebsiella pneumoniae swept through a hospital in Hangzhou, China, last year, killing five recovering patients despite the facility’s pristine hygiene, according to a new report. The microbe, a hybrid of a drug-resistant strain and one that’s both highly contagious and particularly severe, combines all three deadly characteristics. Researchers say there’s a possible treatment using an American drug — but while it awaits approval in China, doctors will have to be on high alert to ward off an epidemic.

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    Steely Dan Cofounder Walter Becker Dies at 67

    He’d reeled in the years. Becker, bassist and guitarist of the cerebral jazz-rock band, has died at 67 according to an announcement on his website. No details were released, but Becker had missed the band’s July concerts recovering from an unspecified procedure. Together with his friend Donald Fagen, Becker helped make Steely Dan one of the most successful groups of the 1970s with hits like “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” and “Reelin’ in the Years.” The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

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    Maria Sharapova’s Grand Slam Return Run Ends

    Looks like she dropped the ball. The former world No. 1 and five-time major champion ended her return to Grand Slam tennis with a fourth-round U.S. Open defeat to 16-seed Anastasija Sevastova 5-7, 6-4, 6-2. It was Sharapova’s first Grand Slam tournament since January 2016, courtesy of a controversial wild card invitation following her 15-month doping suspension. Sharapova, 30, performed better than expected, even defeating the current world No. 2 Simona Halep in the first round. Sevastova will now face American Sloane Stephens.