The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Kavanaugh Confirmation Solidifies US Political Divide

    Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was sworn in Saturday, once said the court should “never be viewed as a partisan institution.” But in the eyes of one Stanford University legal expert, “that train has left the station.” After his highly fraught confirmation battle, Americans may now see the nation’s highest court according to its partisan appointments. More immediately, it could shape how they vote in midterm elections. Republicans expect President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court victory to energize supporters, while Democrats hope that indignation will get voters to the polls Nov. 6.

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    Worst US Road Accident in 13 Years Kills 20 in New York State

    The Saturday crash killed all 18 occupants of a stretch limousine bound for a 30th birthday party, including four sisters, two brothers and several young couples. The driver apparently lost control at a notoriously unsafe intersection of two highways in Schoharie, about 40 miles west of Albany, striking a parked car at the Apple Barrel Country Store and killing two pedestrians. State police are conducting autopsies, including toxicology tests, to help determine a cause, and National Transportation Safety Board investigators are also probing the crash.

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    Jair Bolsonaro Wins First Round in Brazil’s Presidential Election

    The far-right former army captain resoundingly beat Fernando Haddad of the ruling Worker’s Party 46 percent to 29 percent in yesterday’s vote. But Bolsonaro didn’t make the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff. The tough-on-crime candidate, who’s praised Brazil’s past military dictatorship, saw a surge in support after being stabbed at a rally in early September. He claimed fraud and faulty electronic voting systems robbed him of an outright victory. Meanwhile, Haddad hinted at a coalition with other rival candidates for the Oct. 28 runoff.

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    Trade War, Looser Bank Rules Alarm Chinese Investors

    Both the Shanghai Composite and the Shenzhen Composite fell more than 3.7 percent today, with investors concerned over news that the People’s Bank of China had deeply cut commercial banks’ required cash reserves for the fourth time this year. The central bank’s move to spur growth is seen as a hedge against economic collateral damage from President Trump’s trade war with Beijing. Experts predict further easing of banking requirements as the Chinese government speeds up its program of infrastructure investment in another effort to soften the blow of escalating tariffs.

  5. Climate Disaster, Jailed Top Cop and Kavanaugh’s Test Case

    Know This: A United Nations panel on climate change warns that Earth faces an unprecedented crisis by 2040 at the current rate of warming. The Interpol chief who was arrested in China is facing bribery charges. SpaceX launched an Argentine Earth-observation satellite into orbit from coastal California yesterday. And today OZY’s Around the World campaign takes you to Nicaragua: Meet the man who’s risking everything to run against President Daniel Ortega.

    Consider This: “It’s the kind of argument that could appeal to Kavanaugh, who has advocated broad interpretations of executive power.” — analysis of an upcoming Supreme Court case in which the Trump administration argues that allowing officials to be deposed on a controversial census question on citizenship would erode the president’s authority.

    We need your video! OZY is launching a groundbreaking new TV series — and we’d love to include your voice. Record your thoughts on the economy, President Donald Trump, insulting the American flag, policing, modern love or foreign policy in a short vlog, and send it to


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    Melania Trump Draws Fire for Colonial-Era Helmet

    “I wish people would focus on what I do, not what I wear.” So said the first lady after being criticized for wearing a pith helmet associated with imperialism while on safari in Kenya last week. The headgear was favored by 19th century British colonists — and beloved of fashion designers during Trump’s catwalk heyday. Some are speculating that her fashion faux pas — like donning a jacket that said “I really don’t care. Do U?” on the way to visit detained immigrant children — are intended to distract from her husband’s controversies.

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    Banksy Painting Self Destructs at Auction

    “It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” said Alex Branczik, head of contemporary art at Sotheby’s in London, as stunned onlookers witnessed a paper version of the elusive street artist’s Girl With Balloon shred itself into strips as the hammer fell on its $1.4 million sale. Claiming it was a fail-safe in case the piece ever went to auction, Banksy later posted a video on Instagram explaining how he built a bladed machine into its oversize frame. The auction house called it art history, meaning the shredded art is likely now even more valuable.

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    Mushrooms May ‘Bee’ a Savior for Collapsing Colonies

    Bee extinction could have a devastating effect on society, as over a third of our food supply depends on pollinators — but a mushroom grower’s casual observation could hold the cure. Noticing bees fighting to feed on his mushrooms, Paul Stamets realized they might be self-medicating. He collaborated with Washington State University researchers to test the immune-boosting properties of mushroom mycelia, and their studies revealed a dramatic reduction in two viruses linked to colony collapse. Stamets has now designed mycelia extract dispensers, due to hit the market next year.

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    Taylor Swift Finally Reveals Her Politics

    Can MAGA-hatted fans shake it off? The scrupulously apolitical pop siren shocked followers Sunday by Instagramming her political leanings — slamming Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate in the singer’s home state of Tennessee. Swift said the Republican’s record, particularly on women’s and LGBT rights, “appalls and terrifies” her, and she urged fans to educate themselves on local candidates. She also endorsed Democrats Phil Bredesen, Blackburn’s opponent, and Nashville’s Rep. Jim Cooper. Now political junkies want to know: Can Bad Blood erase Blackburn’s eight-point polling lead?

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    Gen Z Quarterbacks Are Invading the NFL

    Young players are increasingly leading playoff-contending teams in the league. How young? There’s 21-year-old rookie Sam Darnold throwing for the New York Jets, while Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Houston’s Deshaun Watson are but 23. In the last 20 years the average age of starting QBs has dropped from 30.1 to 27.8. With better safety standards and more familiar spread and run-pass options, coaches are making it easier for them. And with a cheaper price tag — if they keep delivering — the trend may just continue.