The Presidential Daily Brief


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    12 Die in Five-Alarm New York Apartment Fire

    “It is unspeakable, and families have been torn apart.” So said Mayor Bill de Blasio after the deadliest fire the city had seen since 1990 ripped through a Bronx apartment building last night, killing at least 12 people and critically injuring four others. Scores of firefighters worked for three hours to bring the blaze under control. City records indicate multiple reports of building violations, including a faulty smoke detector. De Blasio said 12 people were rescued from the fire and investigators are attempting to determine its cause.

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    Soccer Star Elected as Liberia’s President

    He’s scored again. Former Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan star George Weah, one of history’s most successful African soccer players, was named Liberia’s next president after taking 61.5 percent in a runoff vote against current Vice President Joseph Boakai. If the transition goes smoothly, it’ll be the country’s first peaceful transfer of power between elected presidents since 1944. Now Weah and running mate Jewel Howard-Taylor, ex-wife of former president and imprisoned war criminal Charles Taylor, can guide the country through recovery from civil war and its recent Ebola outbreak.

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    Trump Evokes Global Warming as U.S. Shivers Into 2018

    It’s cold comfort. Erie, Pennsylvania, saw a record 58 inches of snow this week, leaving citizens buried in their houses as forecasters predicted New Year’s Eve temperatures 20 to 40 degrees colder than usual from Texas to Maine. Icy rivers stranded freighters and firefighters struggled with frozen hydrants. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump tweeted, “Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming,” crowing about his withdrawal from the Paris climate accords. Scientists are largely in agreement that human-spurred climate change increases extreme weather phenomena.

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    Apple Apologizes Over Battery Issue, Reduces Replacement Costs

    They’ll charge you less. After it was revealed that Apple’s been intentionally slowing older iPhones with lagging batteries, the company issued a rare apology. In recent years, the company’s sales have slowed as consumers have tended to keep phones longer. Apple stressed that its actions weren’t intended to push consumers to upgrade — the claim of multiple lawsuits — and it’s slashed the price of replacement batteries for iPhone 6 and later models by $50 to $29. Furthermore, the company promised an update next year that will apprise customers of their batteries’ health.

  5. Deadly Fire, a Broken Heart and a New Senator

    Know This: A fire at a Mumbai shopping complex broke out late last night, killing at least 15 people. Erica Garner, whose father Eric Garner was killed by a police officer in 2014 in a cause taken up by the Black Lives Matter movement, has sustained “major brain damage” after suffering a cardiac arrest. And Democrat Doug Jones was certified the winner of Alabama’s special election for U.S. Senate, shaving the GOP’s seat majority to one.

    Read This: With Sen. John McCain battling aggressive brain cancer, some would-be replacements are already jockeying for his seat — and Arizona Republican officials think it’s in bad taste.

    Talk to Us: As we kick off 2018, we want your feedback on the Presidential Daily Brief — what you think we’re doing right and what we should be doing differently in the new year. Send us an email at


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    To Test Champagne’s Quality, Scientists Lend an Ear

    Who knew flutes were musical? For those judging champagne and other sparkling wines, conventional wisdom holds the smaller the bubbles, the better the brut. New research suggests there’s a more scientific way than eyeballing to assess those gaseous little spheres: Texas University undersea bubble experts caved to “nerdy curiosity” and dropped tiny hydrophones into freshly-poured flutes, listening as bubbles popped against glass to “ring like bells.” Smaller bubbles ring higher, so forward-thinking vintners might add ears to the noses and tongues in their appraisal toolboxes.

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    Electric Truck Innovators Whirring Hard on Tesla’s Tail

    They’ve a Musk-y allure. When zero-emission vehicle pioneer Elon Musk displayed his sleek Tesla tractor-trailer mockups last month, he got some 400 deposits for the still-undeveloped $150,000 behemoths. While the concept might have unheard-of long-haul range, plenty of other firms — from L.A.’s scrappy Thor Trucks to China’s Warren Buffet-backed BYD — are jockeying to supplant smog-spewing diesels. Short-haul electrics are already a fact, and experts say fleets of battery-powered semis may appear in the rearview mirror as soon as 2019.

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    White House Has Highest Turnover Since 1970s

    You knew his catchphrase going in. A think tank’s tracked four decades of presidential administrations, finding that 34 percent of President Trump’s senior staff members have quit or been fired — twice the turnover for first-year record-holder Ronald Reagan and nearly quadruple Barack Obama’s. Of 61 senior officials tracked, 21 have left, including Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, who lasted 11 days, and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. A surviving administration official told the Wall Street Journal that the West Wing’s nonetheless “very well managed” by the latest chief of staff.

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    Report Claims Dr. Phil Show Helped Addicts Get High

    Did they use the users? A report by the Boston Globe and health news site STAT alleges that the hit daytime TV show Dr. Phil endangered struggling guests by enabling them to use drugs and alcohol before filming in order to juice the dramatic tension. One guest’s aunt said her niece was advised where she could buy heroin by staff, who reportedly also filmed a pregnant addict prowling for a fix — without medical supervision. Host Phillip McGraw, who’s faced numerous lawsuits in the past, says the allegations are “unequivocally untrue.”

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    Canadian Football Approves a Rehabbed Manziel

    Go north, young man. That may be the only option for Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, 25, whose career with the Cleveland Browns flamed out in 2016 when substance abuse and domestic violence charges caught up with him. But now he’s been approved to snag a contract by the Canadian Football League. His CFL rights are already owned by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who now have ten days to offer him a contract, trade his rights or release him. If signed, Manziel will have to play at least two years in the Great White North.