The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Pakistan Frees Family Held Hostage By Taliban

    They’re coming home. Pakistan’s military says it has freed a North American family held captive by the Taliban for more than five years. An American woman, her Canadian husband and their three children were recovered reportedly as a result of an intelligence-sharing operation between Pakistani and American officials. Captured while touring Afghanistan in 2012, the couple had three children during their captivity, which the woman, 31-year-old Caitlan Coleman, described as a “Kafkaesque nightmare” in their latest video, released last December.

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    Trump Approves Sweeping Changes to Obamacare

    He’ll handle it. President Donald Trump will order a stop to nearly $7 billion in federal subsidies paid to insurers that help millions of low-income consumers afford health care. Earlier he directed federal agencies to expand access to cheaper, less comprehensive health plans. The executive orders are aimed at dismantling key parts of the Affordable Care Act–after Republicans failed to repeal the controversial policy themselves–and are expected to cause chaos in the health insurance market.






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    Northern California Fires Continue to Rage

    They can smell smoke in San Francisco. That’s 60 miles from the cluster of 22 wildfires that have so far killed 31 people and left thousands homeless. Renewed winds have begun to spread the fires faster, and officials say five years of drought have left the state nearly defenseless against such a blaze. Hundreds of fire crews are speeding to the Golden State from other states, hoping to help the 8,000 embattled firefighters currently trying to save Northern California. Meanwhile, 300 people are still missing and the death toll is expected to rise.

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    Trump Derides Free Press After Denying NBC Report

    He wants it fair and balanced. President Donald Trump chastised NBC for reporting that he wanted to expand the country’s nuclear arsenal tenfold, denying the report and calling it “frankly disgusting” that the press is allowed to write “whatever they want.” Trump said he wasn’t calling for limits on constitutionally protected press freedom, but later insisted on Twitter that critical networks’ licenses “must be challenged.” The FCC issues licenses to individual stations, not networks, and the revocation of licenses is extremely unusual — and, most analysts believe, unlikely.

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    Puerto Rico, Still Dark, Faces Mounting Food Crisis

    Time’s running out. FEMA officials say they’re distributing approximately 200,000 meals per day to 2 million people, a shortfall of at least 1.8 million meals, and to make matters worse, federal contract rules will force some charities to stop delivering meals for weeks. Congress released a bill this week that would offer Puerto Rico a $4.9 billion loan to help keep its government open. Meanwhile, three weeks after the hurricane only 16 percent of Puerto Ricans even have electricity, and the death toll stands at 45, with scores still missing.

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    US Officials Claim Russia Used Software for Espionage

    The call is coming from inside the house. U.S. officials say Kaspersky Lab antivirus software was repurposed by the Kremlin as a spying tool, scanning files for terms like “top secret.” The Russian company’s long denied any spying activities, but American officials say evidence indicates that the surveillance must have been conducted with Kaspersky’s knowledge. Israeli intelligence initially warned the U.S. that Kaspersky was spying on the NSA. Meanwhile, Congress has agreed to publicly release Facebook ads bought by Russian-backed entities in an effort to influence the 2016 election.

  7. NAFTA, Flash Floods and the Rock Test

    Know This: NAFTA, long in President Trump’s crosshairs, may be on the verge of collapse. Dozens have died during flash floods in Vietnam. And rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah have reportedly made a deal.

    Read This: With sexual harassment in the news, one writer has come up with the Rock Test: Men who don’t want to be accused of coming on to their female colleagues should treat every women they encounter as if she were Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

    Send This: What are you and the people around you reading … and loving? Send a paragraph to and let us know where you live, what you’re reading, and why you’re loving it.


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    Weinstein Hires Criminal Defense Lawyer Amid New Allegations

    The pressure is building. More than 20 women, now including Cara Delevingne and Heather Graham, have publicly stated that Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed them, and the mogul has added a criminal defense attorney to his team after multiple allegations of rape. Meanwhile, Ronan Farrow, who wrote one of the Weinstein exposés, said the producer threatened him with a lawsuit. Yesterday the British film academy suspended Weinstein’s membership, and the U.S. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will meet this weekend to discuss “any actions warranted” against him.

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    Boy Scouts to Allow Girls to Join

    Everyone can be prepared. Yesterday, on the International Day of the Girl, the Boy Scouts of America announced that starting next year girls will be welcome in single-gender dens within Cub Scout packs, and in 2019 older girls will be allowed to join the Eagle Scout program. After years of declining membership, the Boy Scouts also recently opened their doors to gay and transgender youth. When the plan was floated two months ago, Girls Scouts officials pushed back, complaining that the rival group would poach their ranks of female scouts.

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    Popular Female Fertility Tests ‘Don’t Work’

    They were poorly conceived. A new study indicates that fertility assessments to determine a woman’s “ovarian reserve” — popular among aging women looking to make informed decisions about trying to get pregnant — don’t actually predict the likelihood of conceiving. Researchers say that while the tests accurately measure the number of eggs remaining, they found no correlation between egg stores and conception. Fertility clinics may need to rethink how they market the expensive tests to potential parents, given that the only measure that actually predicts fertility appears to be age.

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    Social Media Brings Sex Ed to European Teens

    Let’s talk about sex — but not just in the classroom. Social media personalities across Europe are bringing sex education to teenagers who may not be getting schooled in the birds and the bees in actual school. Vloggers in Poland and the U.K. bring a chirpy, approachable vibe to sex questions, while Norway’s planning a TV show starring an Instagram personality that’ll feature real people having sex. But most of Europe still has a ways to go in moving these sex ed upgrades from the computer screen to the classroom.

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    Pittsburgh Penguins Visit White House Without Fanfare

    They won’t ice him out, but they’re not shouting about it. Pittsburgh’s NHL team visited the White House Tuesday, as Stanley Cup champions traditionally do. But in stark contrast to last year’s visit, when the team tweeted gleefully about the event, the Penguins and the NHL stayed totally silent on social media, other than one Facebook photo showing players standing in the White House Green Room. It’s likely a strategy to tamp down public backlash, as many hockey fans had criticized their decision to visit President Trump’s White House.