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Inside Daily Brief (Nov 14th, 2017)

Donald Trump Jr. exchanged private tweets with WikiLeaks shortly before the election. After The Atlantic published a story about the correspondence, Trump Jr. confirmed that he communicated with WikiLeaks. In a message sent in September 2016, WikiLeaks told Trump Jr. that a website critical of his father was about to be launched. In his reply, Trump Jr. said he will try to find out who was behind the website. The largely one-sided exchange – with Trump Jr. mostly failing to reply – continued until July 2017. The messages have been handed over to lawmakers investigating alleged meddling by Russia in the election. During the campaign, WikiLeaks released emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee's servers and from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta. – ATLANTIC

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The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) might appoint a special counsel to investigate the Clinton Foundation. In a letter to the House Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he has asked prosecutors to consider investigating the 2010 sale of Uranium One, a Canadian company, to Russia's Atomic Energy Agency, Rosatom. Republicans, including President Trump, allege that Russian operatives sought to make donations to the Clinton Foundation to persuade then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to endorse the deal. The U.S. government had to authorize the transaction because Uranium One had mining assets in U.S. territory. President Trump took to Twitter earlier this month to demand that the FBI and the DoJ investigate "Crooked Hillary & the Dems."  Sessions' letter says that the investigation might "merit the appointment of a special counsel." CNN

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On his way back to the U.S., President Trump described his 12-day Asia tour as "tremendously successful." He said the trip gave him the opportunity to tell U.S. trading partners in Asia that "the rules have changed." "I think the fruits of our labor are going to be incredible, whether it’s security of our nations, whether it’s security of the world or whether it’s trade," he told reporters flying with him from Manila. During his tour of Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines, Trump said his administration wants to reduce trade deficits with Asian countries. "The United States has to be treated fairly and in a reciprocal fashion. The massive TRADE deficits must go down quickly!," he tweeted Tuesday. – AP

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The U.S. is set to become a net oil exporter within the next decade, according to a forecast by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The country’s oil imports have exceeded exports since 1953. The IEA forecasts that crude oil production will boom in the U.S. thanks to fracking and drilling advances that allow companies to tap oil deposits that were previously out of reach. According to the IEA, the growth in oil output will be driven by "major investments in petrochemicals and other energy-intensive industries." The IEA’s executive director Fatih Birol said: "The US is becoming an undisputed global leader in oil and gas production. It has major implications across the energy world." Meanwhile, the IEA expects global energy demand to continue rising, but at a slower pace than in the past. – GUARDIAN

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Home Depot’s revenues surged in the third quarter thanks to strong demand for building materials in the wake of the hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The retailer said sales of storm-related products including generators, batteries and building materials brought $282 million in additional revenue in the period. The company’s revenue was up 8 percent to $25.03 billion. Home Depot raised its revenue forecast for the year and now expects a 6.3 percent increase in total sales, up from its previous estimate of 5.3 percent. Home Depot stock value is up 17 percent since the beginning of the year. – CNBC

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An analysis of clay pottery found in the nation of Georgia shows that humans began making wine at least 8,000 years ago, much earlier than previously thought. Until now, the oldest evidence of winemaking dated from 7,000 years ago. That was the age of six vessels found in 1968 in Iran that were found to contain traces of wine. But a new study indicates that locals in the South Caucasus region, about 50km south of the Georgian capital Tbilisi, were making wine at least 8,000 years ago. For the study, researchers analyzed 30 fragments of pottery found at the site and compared them with 26 soil samples. In the clay, they found traces of chemicals linked with grapes and wine, such as tartaric acid. "The Georgians are absolutely ecstatic," said Stephen Batiuk, an archaeologist from the University of Toronto and one of the study’s authors. "They have been saying for years that they have a very long history of winemaking and so we’re really cementing that position." – GUARDIAN

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A woman claims former U.S. President George H.W. Bush groped her in 2003, when she was 16. Rosyln Corrigan says the incident happened during a photo op at a CIA office in Woodlands, Texas. She attended the event with her father, who worked at the agency at the time. "My initial reaction was absolute horror. I was really, really confused," Corrigan said. "The first thing I did was look at my mom and, while he was still standing there, I didn’t say anything." A spokesman said the former president apologizes "to anyone he may have offended during a photo op." Six women have now accused Bush of groping, but all the other accusers were adults when the incidents allegedly happened. Bush’s spokesman said the former President has in the past "patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner." – WAPO

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After reviewing surveillance footage, prosecutors investigating the death of a student at Penn State have filed charges including involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault against members of a fraternity. Timothy Piazza died in February after receiving "at least 18 drinks in over 1 hour and 22 minutes," District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said on Monday. She said that the student "never once obtained any of those drinks for himself. Brothers [in the fraternity] were coming up to him and giving him those drinks." Subsequently, Piazza fell down the stairs and sustained injuries that killed him two days later. Surveillance camera footage of the night of the incident was "manually deleted," but FBI agents were able to recover the video. Twenty five members of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity now face charges; five of them could be charged with manslaughter. Following Piazza’s fall, fraternity members allegedly waited for hours before calling an ambulance. – NPR

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Some 15,000 scientists worldwide have signed a letter warning humanity of the dangers of over consumption in the face of growing population and limited resources. "Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out," the letter warns. "We must recognize, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home." The letter is an update of a similar note sent by 1,700 scientists in 1992. Most of the problems identified at the time - including climate change, deforestation, extinctions, and lack of access to fresh water - have only gotten worse, the new letter says. "Those who signed this second warning aren't just raising a false alarm. They are acknowledging the obvious signs that we are heading down an unsustainable path," said Oregon State University ecology professor William Ripple. "We are hoping that our paper will ignite a widespread public debate about the global environment and climate." – INDEPENDENT

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IN-DEPTH READS

It isn’t uncommon to see Baltimore County Public School district students walking around with laptops in their arms. The 25th largest public school system in the U.S. has embraced technology, thanks to a $200 million deal for HP laptops that was struck in 2014. But is there a need for such deals? How much better do children learn with laptops?

This is what Natasha Singer and Danielle Ivory asked in a recent piece for the New York Times. HP is now promoting the school district as a model for other up-and-coming districts that could supposedly use its technology. But it’s what goes on behind the scenes that has some people concerned.

“Tech companies have not gone as far as drug companies, which have regularly paid doctors to give speeches,” Singer and Ivory write. “But industry practices, like flying school officials to speak at events and taking school leaders to steak and sushi restaurants, merit examination, some experts say.”

Digital Promise chief executive Karen Cator says it’s important for schools and the tech industry to work closely together. However, she vouches for transparency along the way.

“We want a healthy, void-of-conflict-of-interest relationship between people who create products for education and their customers,” she told the New York Times. “The reason is so that companies can create the best possible products to meet the needs of schools.”

So where do public school districts draw the line when it comes to offers from tech giants? Furthermore, what do parents have to say about the businesses courting their kids’ schools?  

– @kavermes         

                                                        

[2,684 words]

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CLICK ROULETTE

THE BANANA DANCE

Shaking things up a bit...

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