The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Dozens Feared Dead in Italy Bridge Collapse

    French President Emmanuel Macron has offered Italy his country’s assistance after a bridge collapse in the northwestern port city of Genoa sent dozens of cars and trucks plummeting 328 feet to the ground during a sudden storm Tuesday morning. At least 35 were killed, according to emergency officials, though the death toll appeared to fluctuate throughout the day. Built in the 1960s, the Morandi Bridge stretches across the Polcevera River, but the collapsed portion fell onto rail tracks below, where sniffer dogs were reportedly at work searching for survivors amid the rubble.

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    Transgender Woman Wins Gubernatorial Primary

    Christine Hallquist became the first transgender woman to be nominated for governor by a major party after she won her primary in Vermont on Tuesday. Hallquist, who had transitioned publicly while CEO of the large state utility Vermont Electric Cooperative in 2015, is one of more than 400 LGBTQ candidates running this election cycle. Democrat and transgender candidate Alexandra Chandler is also running in a Massachusetts’ congressional primary next month. Hallquist will face Republican incumbent Phil Scott in November, although a summer poll revealed only 18 percent supported her as a candidate while 55 percent didn’t yet know who she was.

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    Erdogan Escalates War of Words With US

    In an impassioned news conference yesterday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed American sanctions for his country’s ballooning economic crisis, accusing the U.S. of shooting “bullets into the foot of your strategic partner.” While the new sanctions have played a part, other policies contributed: An economic plan to contain the damage didn’t raise interest rates, which could have contained inflation, and instead focused on loosening banks’ liquidity. Erdogan also announced a boycott on U.S.-made electronics. Meanwhile, investors have been selling off emerging market currencies, fearing the damage may spread past Turkey.

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    Trump Tweet Confirms Aides’ Non-Disclosure Mandates

    President Trump acknowledged his administration’s use of non-disclosure agreements in a Monday tweet, saying former adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman signed one. Manigault Newman, writes OZY’s Sean Braswell, embodied “the crony amateurism of the Trump White House,” and has now published a tell-all about her stint there. Dozens of Trump aides have also reportedly signed NDAs, and while officials routinely agree not to release classified information, they’re not usually prohibited from disclosing stories about the president. Meanwhile, legal experts question whether NDAs are even enforceable for public employees.

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    FBI Fires Agent Over Anti-Trump Texts

    Deputy Director David Bowdich ordered agent Peter Strzok’s dismissal on Friday over a series of personal text messages he sent to a colleague criticizing President Donald Trump between 2015 and 2017. Strzok was removed from a key role on Robert Mueller’s special investigation team a year ago after the messages came to light. A standard agency review reportedly ended with the recommendation that Strzok be suspended, but Bowdich, in an unusual move, overruled the review and dismissed him instead. Strzok’s lawyer said the decision “should be deeply troubling to all Americans.”

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    Maduro Says He’ll Curtail Venezuela’s Fuel Subsidies

    “Gasoline must be sold at an international price,” President Nicolás Maduro told his country in a televised address, in what he characterized as a bid to stop smugglers. Subsidies have kept gas cheap within Venezuela, which boasts the world’s largest oil reserves. So fuel prices have barely budged despite hyperinflation expected to top 1 million percent in 2018. Maduro said subsidies would remain for those who registered vehicles with state ID cards, but many who oppose his government have long refused to use their so-called “fatherland cards.”

  7. Parliament Incident, Defense Bill and Elon Musk

    Know This: A man has been arrested outside Britain’s Houses of Parliament after a car crashed into two cyclists, injuring them, and hit a security barrier. President Trump has signed a $716 billion defense policy bill. And Elon Musk attempted to explain last week’s cryptic tweet about taking Tesla private with a blog post yesterday describing exploratory talks with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.

    Read This: Find out how air conditioning has shaped modern city architecture and placement — and what might happen if it had to be shut off.   

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    Google Tracks Users Even When Location Is Disabled

    They’re following you now. An investigation by the Associated Press has revealed that many of the tech giant’s services on the Android operating system and iPhone track a user’s location even when a privacy function is engaged. Turning off Location History still allows Google to collect and store data, and only disengaging “Web and App Activity” tracking fully withholds users’ whereabouts. Google maintains its services are aimed solely at improving users’ experiences, though lawmakers expressed frustration over what Sen. Mark Warner said were “corporate practices that diverge wildly” from users’ expectations.

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    Jewish Leaders Protest EU Summit Date

    It’s a matter of time. Austria, now fulfilling the EU’s presidency, is facing criticism for scheduling a European Union summit in Salzburg during Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. While the summit officially begins Sept. 20 — a day after the holiday fast ends — dignitaries and staff are nevertheless expected to attend an informal dinner the evening before. “I can imagine very well there are some political intentions,” said European Parliament member Péter Niedermüller, who is Jewish and noted growing political rhetoric vowing to defend “Christian Europe” from perceived outsiders.

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    Farmers in Asia’s Golden Triangle Have a New Crop

    Former opium farmers in Southeast Asia are getting the chance to grow another high-value crop: Quality coffee beans. The switch from opium to coffee has largely been a success in Thailand, and now farmers from the highlands of Laos and Myanmar are trying to get into the game — though it’s unclear if they’ll see enough economic growth, as Thailand has, to pause the drug trade. Meanwhile, a U.N. program is helping move coffee from the new locales to markets in Europe, the U.S. and Japan. 

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    Report: Aretha Franklin Seriously Ill With Cancer 

    “Please keep me in your prayers.” That’s what the Queen of Soul told a hometown Detroit audience last year. Now Franklin, 76, is “gravely ill,” according to her family, as the singer reportedly battles cancer. Sources say she’s receiving hospice care at her Detroit-area home. Franklin said she was retiring in 2017 and last appeared onstage in November at an Elton John AIDS Foundation gala before canceling two concerts in New Jersey in March. A Franklin biopic starring Jennifer Hudson is set to begin filming next year.

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    Hall of Fame Baseball Sells for Record Amount

    If they sign it, cash will come. A ball signed by inaugural Baseball Hall of Fame inductees in 1939 was auctioned Saturday for a record $623,369. All 11 players who attended the Cooperstown, New York, ceremony signed the ball — including Babe Ruth, Cy Young and Ty Cobb. Only Lou Gehrig, who was too sick to attend, didn’t sign. The previous auction record was for a Babe Ruth-signed ball that sold for $388,000 in 2012, though Mark McGwire’s 70th home run ball fetched $3 million privately in 1999.