The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Document Leak Exposes Tax Dodging of the Rich and Famous

    There’s trouble in paradise. The Paradise Papers, like the Panama Papers before them, are a massive leak — 13.4 million documents explaining how over the last seven decades, everyone from Queen Elizabeth to Bono to Oxford to Apple to Harvey Weinstein hid money offshore to avoid paying taxes. While these revelations haven’t toppled any government officials yet, as the Panama Papers did in Iceland, they’re exposing changing attitudes toward tax avoidance, indicating that the general public doesn’t give the wealthy a pass on evading taxes, even in technically legal ways.

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    Democratic Victories Make GOP Jittery as Tax Vote Looms

    They’ve got the power. But Republican politicians know that their total control of Congress means they’ll have fewer excuses with voters for not passing conservative legislation, and the sweeping tax reform bill proposed may be their last chance to do so this year. State-level Democratic victories this week stepped up that pressure, as the House is set to vote on its version of the tax bill next week. But there may be worse things than showing up for re-election empty-handed — like having to tell voters you axed their tax breaks.

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    The Role of Domestic Violence in Mass Shootings

    There are ways to see it coming. When Devin Kelley killed 26 people in a Texas church shooting on Sunday, he was just the latest perpetrator to also have a history of domestic violence. Since 2009, over half of the suspects in mass shootings have been linked to abuse of their relatives, with experts pointing to a perpetrator’s urge to control as the operative factor. The solution? More legal restriction and enforcement, but also more open discussion of such crimes, which could challenge deeply ingrained social norms about both domestic violence and gun access.


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    In India, Religious Vigilantes Are Attacking Muslim Ranches

    Their message: Don’t have a cow. The rise of nationalist Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emboldened right-wing Hindu militias that reportedly steal cattle from Muslim farms — sometimes beating and killing the farmers in the process — and take the sacred animals to Hindu-run cow shelters. Although Modi has denounced the militias, cow shelters report that their intake is up 50 percent since his election. The practice accelerates the economic marginalization of the country’s Muslim minority, which dominates India’s meat industry.

  5. RT, Somaliland Elections and Uncle Joe

    The Week Ahead: The Russian government says it’ll announce retaliatory measures next week after the U.S. forced its state broadcaster, RT, to register as a foreign agent. On Monday, voters in Somaliland will choose a new president. And on Tuesday, former Vice President Joe Biden’s memoirPromise Me, Dad, will be published.

    Know This: Comedian Louis C.K. has admitted to sexual misconduct after several women came forward accusing him of inappropriate behavior. Two senators have withdrawn endorsements of would-be GOP senator Roy Moore just weeks before the election. And many are wondering if mysterious events surrounding the Lebanese prime minister’s sudden resignation are leading to regional war in the Middle East.

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    Why the Kremlin Is Ambivalent About the Russian Revolution

    They’re on red alert. Despite this week’s 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, which created the Soviet Union, the Russian government isn’t going overboard with celebrations. That’s because while the Communist empire laid the foundation for today’s resurgent Russia, it was also created from the kind of revolutionary fervor the modern Kremlin desperately wants to avoid. Now some have chosen to lionize marginalized Bolshevik operative Leon Trotsky — a charming, yet brutal person whose drive for social change led him to a bad end — perhaps as a way of dodging the issue.

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    The Scientists Hunting Down Designer Drugs

    These aren’t your grandad’s pharmacists. Amid the spike in dangerous custom-made narcotics over the last decade, a specialized laboratory in San Francisco hopes to predict new trends in designer drugs and avoid mass overdoses by collecting samples. Teaming up with the Drug Enforcement Administration, researchers there spend their days carefully synthesizing compounds and storing them in a “prophetic library,” as well as scouring online message boards for clues. They’ve started taking a more clinical approach by building a broader network for medical reference — but defeating designer drugs is still a gargantuan task.

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    Hurricanes Are Moving Up the Atlantic Ocean

    This is the calm before the storm. Researchers have predicted that as the Earth’s climate warms, the number of hurricane-strength fall storms raking Western Europe will increase from two this year to 13 by the end of the century. For many, post-tropical storm Ophelia, which ravaged parts of Ireland in October, is evidence enough: It was the most powerful storm to hit the Emerald Isle in decades. But that may not stop European climate change deniers, long used to seeing weather-related destruction happen only far away, from refusing to budge.

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    Translator Emily Wilson Finds New Depth in the ‘Odyssey’

    The “man of twists and turns” just found another one. The ancient Greek epic poem has seen dozens of translations since the first English version appeared in 1615. But Emily Wilson, the first woman to publish a translation of Homer’s Odyssey, has scholars buzzing over her solid and direct rendition, which preserves the poetry of Homer without being afraid to make radical departures from previous interpretations. While some in the classics world see translations as unserious work — stenography rather than creativity — Wilson’s out to prove them wrong.

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    This Woman Battles Rape Culture in College Sports

    She won’t stop. Brenda Tracy has become a leading advocate against sexual violence in college football after having been gang-raped herself by Oregon State football players. At least 50 college football programs have dealt with allegations of sexual assault, and studies have found that college athletes are more likely to be involved in such cases than other college students. To keep the survivors on everyone’s minds, Tracy is crisscrossing the country to tell coaches and athletes her story in hopes of preventing what happened to her from happening to others.