The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Austin Police Hunt “Serial Bomber”

    Authorities in the Texas capital say a Sunday night explosion is likely related to a string of package bombs that have killed two people and injured several others in the last month. While police have said they’re not ruling out race as a motive — since most of the victims have been people of color — the two men injured in Sunday’s explosion were reportedly white. That blast, which investigators say may have been triggered by a trip wire, came hours after Austin’s police chief pleaded with the bomber to reach out to authorities.

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    Self-Driving Uber Kills Pedestrian in Arizona

    The popular ride-sharing service has announced it’s suspending tests of its self-driving cars after a woman was killed late Sunday by one of its autonomous vehicles. The 49-year-old was hit while crossing a street in Tempe, Arizona, and died in the hospital. “Our hearts go out to the victim’s family,” said a spokesman for Uber, which is halting programs in San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Phoenix and Toronto. It’s the second time the company has suspended tests, although a previous accident in Arizona last year did not cause any injuries.

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    Trump Turns on Mueller Investigation Via Twitter

    Despite legal advice to not attack special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into 2016 election meddling, President Donald Trump spent the weekend making angry accusations, sparking concern in both parties that he may attempt to shut down the investigation. “If he tried to do that, that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency, because we’re a rule-of-law nation,” said GOP Sen. Lindsay Graham. Trump tweeted that Mueller’s probe ”should never have been started” and that his team has “zero Republicans,” though Mueller himself is a Republican.

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    Putin Wins Another 6-Year Term, Britain Investigates Poisoning

    Yesterday’s election in Russia saw an overwhelming victory for President Vladimir Putin, as expected, following his promises to improve the country’s standard of living. While Putin has stepped up anti-Western rhetoric in recent days amid a mounting diplomatic crisis with the U.K., it’s not clear if he’ll scale it back now that the election is won. Meanwhile, international investigators are testing a nerve agent — which U.K. authorities say was developed by Moscow — used to poison a former Russian double agent on British soil earlier this month.

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    Politicians Demand Answers on Misuse of Facebook Data

    Who uses the users? White House-linked data firm Cambridge Analytica was banned from Facebook Friday for allegedly harvesting private data on over 50 million users. Now U.S. and British lawmakers are calling for an explanation. The Observer said Facebook threatened to sue if it published the story, while a former Cambridge employee said the social network’s long known about the leak. Mark Zuckerberg is expected to be called to testify in both countries to explain how Cambridge’s harvesting may have affected the 2016 presidential election and the Brexit referendum.


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    Stephen Hawking Submitted Final Paper Before Death

    Ten days before he died last week, the famed physicist submitted a coauthored paper describing how to test if universes beyond our own exist. The theoretical paper, “A Smooth Exit from Eternal Inflation,” apparently provides the mathematics needed for a deep-space probe to collect background radiation from the beginning of time and potentially prove the existence of parallel universes. Some speculate the paper — expected to be published after peer review — might have snagged Hawking his elusive Nobel Prize, which can only be awarded to living scientists.

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    States Seek Their Own Net Neutrality Rules

    It’s a tangled web. Activists say 35 states, plus the District of Columbia, are pursuing strategies to keep some version of net neutrality in place after the Federal Communications Commission scrapped nationwide regulations late last year. Ranging from lawsuits to executive orders, the moves represent a loosely coordinated attempt by states to push back against a controversial decision by the Republican-controlled agency. Despite their gumption, though, it may be an uphill battle: In its decision, the FCC declared its right to sue state governments over any such attempts.

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    US, North Korean Officials to Meet in Finland

    Perhaps the Nordic setting can cool tensions. While no date or location has been set for the anticipated May meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un, former U.S. ambassador to South Korea Kathleen Stephens is set to parley with a top official from North Korea’s foreign ministry on neutral ground in Finland today. This follows days of discussion with Swedish diplomats, who’ve been working to accommodate negotiations over Pyongyang’s denuclearization and the specifics of Trump and Kim’s historic face-to-face — which North Korea still hasn’t formally accepted.

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    Veteran Cirque du Soleil Performer Falls to Death

    Aerialist Yann Arnaud, 38, lost his grip and fell 20 feet while performing a new act in the Canadian troupe’s Volta show Saturday in Tampa. “After so much work and training and staging, our straps duo act is finally in the show tonight. It’s time to go for it,” Arnaud posted shortly before the performance. He had been with the company for 15 years. Cirque du Soleil and local police will investigate the incident, which follows another accidental onstage death in 2013. Remaining shows in the area have been canceled.

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    Soccer Offers Greek Tycoons Path to Power

    It’s a match made in heaven. Businessmen and politicians in Greece have long dabbled in soccer ownership, but the country’s recent economic crisis has allowed that relationship to flourish. Tycoons gobble up state assets, whose profits they pour into soccer clubs that buy them even more influence. These savvy operators are typically more popular than the clubs or players themselves — although they’re also often dogged by allegations of corruption. While the government’s drafting legislation to rein in the game, controlling the unruly oligarchs who run the show may be difficult.