The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Hurricane Irma Hits Caribbean Islands

    They’re bracing for impact. Residents of many islands in the Caribbean have been preparing for the storm to make landfall, with officials warning that its effects could be “potentially catastrophic.” The Category 5 hurricane became the most powerful ever recorded in the Atlantic, with winds of 185 mph yesterday evening. Irma, which already hit the Leeward Islands of Antigua and Barbuda, and is now over the U.S. Virgin Islands, is heading for Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba before potentially reaching Florida by Sunday. Across the region, governments and residents are evacuating and sheltering indoors.

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    Trump Strikes Debt Ceiling Deal With Democrats

    He’s reaching across the aisle. President Donald Trump says he agreed with top Democrats today to raise the federal debt ceiling and fund the government for three months, potentially avoiding an anticipated shutdown later this month. The bipartisan deal, whose idea was criticized by House Speaker Paul Ryan, was reportedly part of an agreement to fast-track nearly $8 billion in Hurricane Harvey relief funds. Trump’s deal-making is likely to frustrate other Republicans, too, since they’d hoped to extend the ceiling until after next year’s midterm elections.

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    Business Leaders, Obama Condemn End to DACA

    They’re not letting it go without a fight. After President Trump’s administration announced yesterday that it’ll scrap the program that protects undocumented immigrants who arrived in childhood from deportation, tech and business executives from Facebook, Goldman Sachs, Twitter and others decried the decision. Microsoft threatened to go to court to protect its 39 employees who are “dreamers,” and former President Obama, who spearheaded the program, wrote, “To target these young people is wrong.” Now the dreamers’ best hope is legal action from Congress, where Republicans remain divided on the issue.

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    North Korea Promises ‘More Gift Packages’ to the US

    No thanks. North Korea continued needling President Trump, calling its recent “self-defense measures” — including what it claims was a successful hydrogen bomb test — a “gift” directed at the U.S., noting that more are on the way. Japanese analysis estimates Sunday’s test was about ten times more powerful that the bomb that leveled Hiroshima in 1945. South Korean President Moon Jae-in, at talks in Vladivostok today, reportedly asked Russian President Vladimir Putin, who’s advocated sanction-free peaceful diplomacy, for help in calming Pyongyang’s game of nuclear chicken.

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    Former Brazilian Presidents Charged in Corruption Scandal

    How the mighty have fallen. Two former presidents of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, have been formally charged with racketeering, along with several members of their Workers’ Party. They’re accused of taking $475 million in bribes using government-owned entities like state oil company Petrobras over a period of 14 years. Rousseff, impeached last year, hasn’t been charged before, while Silva was previously convicted of corruption — something he was already trying to overcome in his current run for the presidency. Both say the charges are baseless.

  6. Tainted Tap Water, Refugee Quotas and Trump’s Kompromat File

    Know This: Tests on tap water around the world found plastic fibers in 83 percent of samples, with U.S. water showing the highest contamination rate at 94 percent. Myanmar is reportedly laying landmines along its border with Bangladesh, in what may be a bid to prevent the return of persecuted Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence. And an EU court has decided that Hungary and Slovakia must accept quotas of refugees, despite repeated refusals.

    Read This: The House Intelligence Committee has demanded records from the FBI and Justice Department about a salacious leaked dossier claiming links between President Trump and Russia — though congressional Democrats worry that the committee may be aiming to discredit the file’s author rather than investigating its claims.

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    New NASA Nominee Could Push for Return to the Moon

    It could be another giant leap for mankind. With President Trump’s nomination of Rep. James Bridenstine to lead the space agency, America could find itself headed for the moon again. If confirmed, Bridenstine — a former Navy pilot who has long supported lunar exploration — could provide NASA’s new Space Launch System with the direction it needs to return to Earth’s satellite. Commercial space flight will also be on his agenda, with the U.S. government likely relying more on private companies to reach the cosmos under Bridenstine’s tenure.

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    How Mass Transit Is Helping Post-Harvey Houston

    He came, he saw, he destroyed. Among Hurricane Harvey’s victims were up to 1 million cars, many of them used daily by Houston area commuters. Enter METRO, the city’s public transit agency: Even before offering an alternative to costly rental cars and soaring post-Harvey gas prices, it transported thousands of evacuees to shelters. Now it’s working to spread the word about its services — and the fact that the hardest-hit areas aren’t served by public transit has emboldened METRO to seek longer-term solutions to Houston’s transport problems.

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    Can the Zika Virus Combat Brain Cancer?

    They’re itching for further study. New research has found a promising use for the Zika virus: killing brain cancer cells. Zika may be infamous for causing birth defects by attacking the stem cells of fetuses in the womb, but researchers have now shown that the same mechanism also makes it perfect for attacking glioblastoma stem cells, which cause the most common kind of brain cancer. The treatment has returned positive results in early testing with mice, and researchers are hoping for human trials in the next few years.

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    Good Privacy Practices Struggle Against Human Nature

    It doesn’t take much to expose yourself. A new paper suggests the “privacy paradox” — that our online actions utterly fail to match our stated beliefs in data privacy — is genuine. A study of 3,108 MIT students revealed that more than 90 percent were willing to disclose their friends’ personal information, acting with an abandon that contradicted their statements supporting online anonymity. Researchers believe the divergence may be down to a failure in communicating the risks and benefits of sharing data, as many people simply choose whatever seems easiest.

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    Red Sox Caught Stealing Signs Via Apple Watch

    They can’t be siri-ous. An MLB investigation has concluded that Boston illegally used technology to spy on the hand signals of opposing catchers, following a complaint by the Yankees that included videos of a Red Sox trainer checking his Apple Watch and then relaying pitch information to players. While stealing signs isn’t forbidden, the use of electronic devices in dugouts violates league rules. Boston has in turn accused the Yankees of sign-stealing via a carefully positioned TV camera. No penalties have been issued, but fines or suspensions are possible.