The Presidential Daily Brief

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    Several Dead in Miami Bridge Collapse

    A 950-ton pedestrian bridge installed less than a week ago has collapsed in the Miami area, destroying at least five vehicles and reportedly causing several fatalities. The Florida International University walkway was installed to reduce the danger for those attempting to cross the busy road beneath, where a student was killed last summer. The bridge was built to withstand hurricanes. The Highway Patrol has confirmed that people have died, and rescue workers are currently digging through the rubble for those who may still be trapped. 

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    UK Allies Condemn Alleged Russian Attack as US Issues New Sanctions

    The U.S. government has slapped new sanctions on Russia, blaming the Kremlin for a malware attack on the American energy sector and for malicious cyber activity during the 2016 elections. That adds to the growing crisis between Russia and Britain: Yesterday British Prime Minister Theresa May announced her country will expel 23 Russian diplomats in response to the attack on former spy Sergei Skripal, which officials believe was organized by the Kremlin. Today, French, German and U.S. leaders issued a statement supporting the conclusion that Russia is behind the attack. Meanwhile, Britain braced for retaliation from Moscow, especially after Russia reportedly responded with “sarcasm, contempt and defiance” to British demands for an explanation. 

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    US Students Decry Gun Violence in Nationwide Walkout

    One month after the Parkland school shooting, tens of thousands of students across the country walked out of their classrooms at 10 a.m. yesterday to protest gun violence. Carrying placards with messages like “Am I Next?” and “Never Again,” demonstrators observed moments of silence, rallied against the NRA and demanded lawmakers take tougher action on limiting access to weapons. Yet despite the success they’ve achieved in Florida, where the governor approved stricter gun regulations, it remains to be seen whether student activists can force change on a national level.

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    Pennsylvania Election Poses Fresh Challenge for GOP

    Although Republican officials are contesting the outcome of Pennsylvania’s special House election, Democrat Conor Lamb’s 627-vote lead over opponent Rick Saccone suggests the razor-thin victory is another moment of reckoning for the GOP. It’s an ominous sign for conservatives ahead of November’s midterm elections, especially since President Donald Trump won the same district by 20 points. While reclaiming Congress won’t be easy for the Democrats, observers suggest there’s enough discontent with Republicans to put a crucial number of seats at risk.

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    Toys R Us to Shutter All US Stores

    They’re not playing around. The global toy retailer says it’ll close or sell its 735 American stores after filing liquidation papers Wednesday evening. The move would erase up to 33,000 jobs and end a 70-year legacy cherished by generations of children. Facing more than $5 billion in debt, Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy last September — the victim of big-box competitors such as Walmart and Target, as well as online retailers like Amazon. “This is a profoundly sad day for us,” CEO Dave Brandon told employees.

  6. School Safety, Bottled Water and Russian Scapegoats

    Know This: The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the STOP School Violence Act, which boosts federal funding for school safety. Researchers tested bottled water from around the world and found that 93 percent of samples were contaminated with microplastics. And President Trump boasted about making up information on trade relations during a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

    Read This: Ordinary Russians are joining their government in defiantly refuting British claims that Moscow was behind the attempted murder of a former Russian spy, saying they’re simply the “world’s scapegoat.”

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    Facebook Bans British Far-Right Group

    Notorious anti-Muslim group Britain First has been kicked off the social network for good. Facebook pulled its page, which had garnered 2 million likes, and those of its leaders, Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, as part of a wider push to combat fake news and rid the network of hate speech. Britain First found itself at the center of an international controversy in November after President Trump retweeted anti-Muslim videos produced by the extremist group. Just last week, Golding and Fransen were jailed on charges of religiously motivated harassment.

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    Turkey Is Battling an Illegal Drinking Problem

    If you booze, you lose. That’s increasingly the case in Turkey, where the government’s sky-high taxes on alcohol have given rise to a grassroots moonshine industry that’s claimed hundreds of lives in the last 15 years. Cops are cracking down on bootleggers, but deaths due to methanol poisoning are still stacking up — and homebrewers are still cashing in. Turkey’s trend joins a broader movement toward moonshine in the Middle East and other predominantly Muslim countries, where high taxes on booze are sparking protests and boosting black markets.

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    Scientists Seek to Restore Sensory Awareness From Lost Limbs

    They’re getting a feel for it. Researchers are exploring ways to bring back kinesthesia — the awareness of the motion and location of body parts that’s often described as a “sixth sense” — for amputees using prosthetic limbs. By creating vibration-induced illusions, the scientists effectively fool the brain into perceiving motions by bionic limbs, sending feedback that establishes awareness. The next step is to develop a system to process even more nuanced signals. One test subject explained, “This is going to take things to an entirely different level.”

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    Miley Cyrus Hit With Copyright Infringement Suit

    The pop star is being sued by Jamaican songwriter and performer Michael May, who says her 2013 hit “We Can’t Stop” sounds too much like his 1988 single “We Run Things.” Better known by his stage name, Flourgon, May is reportedly seeking $300 million in damages. He’s claiming 50 percent of Cyrus’ song comes from his own hit — which reached the top of the Jamaican charts at the time — and he’s demanding that she refrain from performing the track as well as selling copies of it.

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    English Rugby Coach Apologizes for Offensive Slurs

    The head coach of England’s national rugby team has apologized “unreservedly” for defamatory remarks he made last year against Ireland and Wales. At a July 2017 conference, Australian-born Eddie Jones disparaged Wales as “a little s*** place” and described the Irish as “scummy.” In his apology, the 58-year-old Jones added: “No excuses. I shouldn’t have said what I did.” Meanwhile, England’s governing Rugby Football Union said it would also apologize to its Irish and Welsh counterparts.