The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Mugabe Appears on TV, Refuses to Step Down

    He’s not going quietly. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was expected to resign in a televised address tonight, but instead he spoke of resuming his duties. Both the military and his own party demanded the departure of the leader who ushered in majority rule when he took control of the southern African nation in 1980. Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, ousted last week in a fateful power grab by Mugabe’s wife, Grace, now leads Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party and could well become president, but that may have to wait until parliamentary impeachment proceedings.

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    U.S. General Says He’d Refuse ‘Illegal’ Nuclear Strike

    Turns out there are rules. The commander of U.S. nuclear weapons told a Canadian security forum Saturday that he’d reject “illegal” nuclear strikes ordered by President Donald Trump. “I’m gonna say, ‘Mr. President, that’s illegal,’” and then the two would discuss other responses to a military threat, said Air Force Gen. John Hyten, explaining that legality hinges on factors such as necessity, proportionality and unnecessary suffering. The declaration comes after Trump’s exchange of threats with North Korea, which Republican Sen. Bob Corker has warned is putting America “on a path to World War Three.”

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    Do These Men Belong in the U.S. Senate?

    Everyone’s uncomfortable. First came the Senate candidate: Alabama’s Ten Commandments-brandishing Republican firebrand Roy Moore, who denies multiple accusations that he aggressively pursued sexual contact with underage girls when he was a prosecutor decades ago. And then a photo surfaced of Democratic Minnesota Sen. Al Franken grinning while appearing to fondle the breasts of a sleeping broadcaster, who wrote that the then-comedian forced her to “rehearse” a kiss for a performance to entertain troops. Evolving harassment attitudes have already tilted Moore’s near-certain election toward a polling deficit, and prompted calls for Franken’s resignation.

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    We Can Live Without Black Friday

    Unless you’re a Walmart shopper, that is. That retailer has jacked up prices online to try to lure customers offline and into their stores. Good luck with that: Looking at Android phone trends, App Annie has predicted that Friday will be the biggest sales day ever — for wireless consumers. It expects Americans to spend some 6 million hours on the top five shopping apps this week, which is 45 percent more than in 2015. That’s a good thing, assuming you don’t want to fight over that last Fingerlings Interactive Baby Monkey.

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    The British Spy Who Shook the White House

    He witnessed one upheaval and sparked another. Christopher Steele built his British intelligence career monitoring the demise of the Soviet Union and the birth of Russia’s FSB spy agency, but it was his private work that shook the world. Under contract with anti-Trump Republicans and then the Democratic National Committee, Steele claims to have uncovered a yearslong Russian campaign to influence the future president. Skeptics may question the veracity of notoriously unreliable human intel, but Steele’s deep experience lends credibility to his blockbuster dossier — which may yet become part of history.

  6. Genocide Verdict, Sub Signals and Olympic Abuse

    The Week Ahead: On Tuesday, social media will be buzzing with pardon jokes as the White House stages the annual ritual of sparing two turkeys ahead of Thanksgiving. The UN’s International Criminal Tribunal plans to announce the verdict Wednesday in its final trial, the genocide case against Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic. And on Thursday, American families will feast, watch parades and football while avoiding political discussions on Thanksgiving.

    Know This: Signals believed to be from an Argentine military submarine missing since Wednesday have offered hope that the vessel’s 44 crew members may still be alive. Some 290 coaches of U.S. Olympic teams across 15 sports have been accused of sexual misconduct since 1982, showing that the recent scandal involving abused gymnasts is systemic. And President Trump has announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reviewing a decision to allow the import of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia, which upset conservationists. 

    Give Us the Scoop: What do you know and what do you want to discover? If you’ve got an idea for an awesome story, we’d love to hear it. Send your pitches to and our reporters and editors will run them down.


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    AC/DC Co-Founder Malcom Young Dead at Age 64

    He shook them. Malcom Young, the rhythm guitarist who recruited his brother Angus to form the legendary rock band AC/DC in 1973, died Saturday after a 10-year battle with dementia. The Scottish-born Australian began his musical career after his older brother George, who died in October, achieved 1960s stardom with the Easybeats. But as co-writer on AC/DC hits such as “Highway to Hell,” “Back in Black” and “Hell’s Bells,” he and his band took the world by storm, with its “Back in Black” album becoming one of the world’s best sellers.

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    People Are Less Hung Up on Gender

    It makes no difference…if you’re a boy or a girl. A recent study by the firm that popularized the term “metrosexual” has found that 52 percent of women and 44 percent of men believe gender is fluid. Experts say this reflects how the designation is approaching the cultural irrelevance of shoe size or hair color. Taken together with another study that shows that workplace gender equality is improving, with millennials wanting to see more women in supervisor roles, the results suggest a future with less gender segregation and more emphasis on merit.

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    Second Life Still Holds a Mirror to Digital Escapism

    It was a first. Second Life, a virtual world launched in 2003 and hailed as the future of digital interaction, seemed no match for reality. As Facebook monopolized the imagination of the masses, some SL users continued to build lives in this largely forgotten digital space. With 36 million accounts created by 2013, the platform has only about 600,000 regular users today. But like mainstream social media, it’s a place where real people meet — and sometimes procreate IRL — and its custodians hope virtual reality can bring about its rebirth.

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    The Bali School Teaching Kids to Save the Earth

    It’s the end of the world and they know it. At Bali’s Green School, tucked into the Indonesian jungle, students and teachers are taking conservation education to another level. It’s progressive schooling meets survival training, with some Balinese culture thrown in. The goal is to create a future generation of “green leaders” able to weather the storm of future resource troubles. And its popularity — with students from around the planet — suggests a demand not only for good SAT scores, but also the tools to survive.

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    After Harvey Weinstein, Everyone Has to Reckon With Their Pasts

    “I’m so glad we’re doing it. And I’m in hell.” So said one woman to journalist Rebecca Traister, who’s reckoning with her own past — along with the rest of the media industry, and in fact every industry — following an avalanche of sexual harassment allegations against powerful men. Those who’ve laughed off their own victimization are re-evaluating their experiences, while others who knew that colleagues were dangerous but said nothing are realizing the implications of their silence. It’s a painful process, but a necessary one to change toxic cultural mores. 

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    Julio Jones Deserves an Origin Story

    He was always different. Quintorris “Julio” Jones was a legend growing up among goats and horses in his home state of Alabama. Folkloric tales spread about his exploits in basketball or football or any other sport he happened to be playing, and peers felt he could be a champ at anything. He picked football, and seven years into his career, the Atlanta Falcons are glad. Jones’ average of 94.6 receiving yards per game is the best in the league’s history. What’s wrong? If anything, it’s that everyone’s becoming so blasé about what he’s capable of.