The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Deadly Hurricane Irma Rips Through Caribbean, Killing 14

    She’s not done yet. Hurricane Irma, a powerful storm roughly the size of France, has struck a string of Caribbean islands, reportedly destroying 95 percent of St. Martin and leaving half the residents of Barbuda homeless. Fourteen deaths are confirmed so far. Power has been knocked out in Puerto Rico, and even before the storm authorities predicted that it could take as long as six months to restore electricity. Now half a million people have been ordered to evacuate South Florida as the area readies for Irma’s predicted arrival Sunday.

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    Appeals Court Rejects Trump Travel Ban’s Refugee Restrictions

    Good news for the huddled masses. President Donald Trump’s administration has argued that even the 24,000 vetted refugees with charities sponsoring their resettlement shouldn’t be allowed into the country under a 90-day executive order banning such migration — but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagrees. Thursday’s unanimous ruling found that not only can such refugees enter the country, but so can grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles of legal U.S. residents, who previously didn’t qualify as close relatives. The new rules will take effect in five days.

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    Millions Exposed by Equifax Hack

    It’s all coming out now. An estimated 143 million U.S. customer records — including social security and credit card numbers — have been compromised in a major breach of Equifax Inc., a national credit reporting agency. News of the hack, which is thought to have continued for over two and a half months, caused the agency’s shares to tumble as much as 13 percent. While Equifax has apologized, questions have arisen after it became known that three senior executives sold almost $1.8 million in shares just days after the attack was detected.

  4. A Controversial Cake, Wild Tigers and the PDB Quiz

    Know This: Trump administration lawyers are urging the Supreme Court to side with the baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. With Amazon’s announcement that it’ll build a second North American hub, cities are already competing to host the company. And Kazakhstan will re-introduce wild tigers, which went extinct in the country 70 years ago.

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

    Tune In:Third Rail With OZY, the new TV show from OZY and WGBH, premieres on PBS tonight at 8:30 p.m.! You can also watch it online. Every week, we’ll delve into a provocative question and take the debate to its limits. Have a question you’d like to see discussed? Email it to


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    Spanish Court Suspends Catalonia’s Planned Independence Vote

    For now, no llibertat. Catalonia’s regional government has already announced an Oct. 1 ballot on its independence from Spain, in a controversial decree that saw 52 lawmakers walk out before the vote was even taken. But Spain’s not having it: The country’s constitutional court suspended the referendum call yesterday while it reviews an appeal on the matter. Nonetheless, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont promised “a tsunami of democracy” would push the vote through. While Catalonians are split on the independence question, local authorities insist any new vote will be legally binding.

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    Artificial Intelligence Infers Sexuality From Facial Photos

    Can it see through closet doors? Stanford researchers say they’ve created an algorithm that can tell if someone is gay or straight from inspecting photos — with 91 percent accuracy for men and 83 percent for women. Using a dating site’s public photos of 14,776 people — with genders and sexualities equally represented — the artificial intelligence was able to analyze particular facial features to predict sexual orientation. The scientists, who say they’re “really disturbed” by the results, have released them to make people aware of the potential for serious privacy violations.

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    Publishers Fight Back Against ‘Pirate Bay of Science’

    “Unsustainable.” That’s how experts describe the current subscription model for academic journals, thanks to the increasing popularity of Sci-Hub, a dark web pirating service containing nearly 70 percent of all academic research. Sky-high subscription costs have driven prospective readers away from the $25.2 billion publishing industry and toward Sci-Hub — which explains the several multimillion-dollar lawsuits filed against the site. Not that publishers are likely to see that money: Sci-Hub founder Alexandra Elbakyan lives in Russia, far outside U.S. jurisdiction.

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    Celebrities Rally for Education in Live TV Event

    Rather than back to school, they’re going forward. Oscar-winner Viola Davis and the XQ Institute are driving forces behind EIF Presents: XQ Super School Live, a one-hour telecast on all four major U.S. networks that aims to make viewers rethink how teenagers are educated. Justin Timberlake, Cate Blanchett, U2, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Mahershala Ali have all signed on to take the stage tonight in a show that intersperses musical performances with skits and documentary segments to get people thinking about changing education in their own communities.

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    Roger Goodell Ridiculed at NFL Season Opener

    There’s no love lost. The NFL commissioner’s attempts to surreptitiously attend the season opener at the Patriots’ Gillette Stadium failed as he was met with a chorus of boos from sharp-eyed New England fans. Goodell — who remains loathed for his part in Tom Brady’s Deflategate suspension — was a no-show in the AFC Championship Game, so fans were sure to make their feelings known this time. One local sports website even distributed 70,000 towels showing Goodell’s face with a clown nose for fans to wave during the game.