The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Suspect in Austin Parcel Bombings Dead After Police Operation

    Authorities say 23-year-old college dropout Mark Anthony Conditt, believed to be responsible for a string of mail bombs in the Texas capital, has died after detonating a device in his car as police chased him. The series of parcel bombs killed two people and sparked an FBI and ATF manhunt for the still-unidentified bomber. The two most recent devices, both mailed from Austin, were found at FedEx facilities yesterday. Police say they haven’t identified a motive yet and have warned that Conditt may have planted more bombs before his death.

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    Two Injured, Gunman Dead in Maryland School Shooting

    Police say they’ve “contained” the situation after responding to a shooting at a southern Maryland high school that left two students injured and the gunman, also a student, dead. Both local and federal authorities were investigating the incident at Great Mills High School, which remained on lockdown after a school resource officer armed with a handgun reportedly shot the gunman, who later died in the hospital. “I just thank god I’m safe,” said one Great Mills senior, who recounted his frantic rush to the nearest exit.

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    As Data Battle Rages, Facebook Exec Quits in Protest

    He’d hit a Facebook wall. Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos says he’ll leave the company in August, reportedly after unsuccessfully advocating for more transparency about how governments have misused Facebook in the past. Meanwhile, the social network says it can’t audit data mining company Cambridge Analytica — which apparently used a separate firm to obtain millions of users’ personal data without permission — until a probe by British investigators is finished. Facebook’s stock fell 6.8 percent on Monday, wiping out about $36 billion in market value.

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    Trump Advances Death Penalty to Fight Opioid Crisis

    President Donald Trump has called for the execution of drug dealers as part of his plan to fight America’s prescription drug crisis, which kills tens of thousands every year. Trump has previously praised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, currently under investigation by the ICC over thousands of extrajudicial killings of drug suspects. It’s not clear which crimes would carry the death penalty under Trump’s plan, but any extension of the current rules, which already allow capital punishment for drug-related murders, would likely spark years of legal battles.

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    Xi Warns Taiwan of ‘Punishment of History’ Over Separatism

    He’s got to hold it together. After the U.S. signed new laws last week encouraging American and Taiwanese officials to meet on each other’s home turf, Chinese President Xi Jinping has delivered a fiery anti-separatist speech. He warned Taiwan and Hong Kong that any attempt at independence from mainland China is “doomed to fail.” Meanwhile, Xi’s address at the party congress, on a day normally reserved for his deputy’s speech, sent a powerful message that China’s leader, now freed from term limits, has no challengers within his party.

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    Weinstein Company Files for Bankruptcy, Canceling NDAs

    This is the moment of truth. As The Weinstein Company enters bankruptcy proceedings, it is officially releasing all employees from previously signed nondisclosure agreements, which disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein used as a “secret weapon to silence his accusers,” according to the company’s statement. More than 70 women have accused Weinstein, who’s currently under investigation by New York’s attorney general, of sexual misconduct or rape. The company has agreed that an affiliate of private equity firm Lantern Capital Partners can purchase its remaining assets, though other offers are still being solicited.


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    Uber Ends Self-Driving Car Trial After Pedestrian Death

    The ride-sharing service had been testing autonomous cars in California, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Ontario, but paused all its pilot programs after a pedestrian fatality Sunday — the first linked to a self-driving car. Elaine Herzberg, 49, was crossing a street in Tempe when the car — which had a human driver as a safety precaution, but was speeding slightly — struck her. Police say the car likely wasn’t at fault, as Herzberg “came from the shadows,” but the National Transportation Safety Board will conduct an independent investigation.

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    Where Elderly Workers Are Overtaking Millennials

    South Korea’s having a senior moment. With the fertility rate plunging and sky-high poverty among the elderly, pensioners are being pushed back into the workforce. The country has more economically active citizens over the age of 60 — a group that’s projected to account for 40 percent of the population by 2060 — than those in their 20s. While many ponder how to increase the young labor force despite 10 percent youth unemployment, President Moon Jae-in has promised to boost state pension stipends by 50 percent by 2021.

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    Study Examines Neurological Boundaries Between the Self, Others

    E pluribus unum. Several psychological disorders, like depression and schizophrenia, are characterized by a distorted sense of self. But new research suggests that a feeling described by LSD users of blurring the boundaries between oneself and others could be the key to treatment. Scanning the brains of test subjects on acid as they interacted with virtual avatars helped scientists isolate a receptor system that plays a crucial role in self awareness. Researchers hope that targeting those receptors could lead to potential neurobiological treatments to improve a faulty sense of self.

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    Actress Cynthia Nixon Enters NY Gubernatorial Race

    The Sex and the City star, no relation to President Richard Nixon, appears to be making a serious challenge to incumbent Democrat Andrew Cuomo. She’s announced her bid well ahead of the Sept. 13 primary and hired former strategists for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Polls show Cuomo, whom Nixon’s dismissed as a “centrist,” with a healthy lead. If Nixon wins, she would be the first woman and the first openly LGBT person — as well as the first Emmy-winner — to serve as the state’s governor.

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    New Tax Bill Could Affect Sports Trades

    While mainly intended to apply to trade between farmers and manufacturers, a one-word change in new Republican tax legislation — from “property” to “real property” — could mean that it would also apply to player trades between professional sports teams. Though it’s not clear if the IRS will go after the industry, the change in accounting means that a capital gains tax could be levied when there’s a large difference in value between traded players. Meanwhile, some point out that there’s currently no formula for determining a player’s actual market value.