The Presidential Daily Brief

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    Scott Pruitt Confirmed as EPA Administrator

    Strange bedfellows were made in Washington today. Scott Pruitt was confirmed by the Senate to take over running the Environmental Protection Agency. The Oklahoma attorney general won the position by a 52-46 margin, despite having spent much of his career in direct conflict with the EPA, including denying climate change and making calls to remove much of the agency’s power. Senate Democrats fought hard against the nomination, as Pruitt’s history of warring with the agency is likely to see him dismantle it entirely, in line with Trump’s vow to “get rid” of it.

     

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    Trump May Be About To ‘Round Up’ Illegal Immigrants

    That didn’t take long. POTUS is considering mobilising 100,000 National Guard troops to collect unauthorized immigrants. A draft memo, written by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, allegedly reveals the intention to militarize immigration enforcement in four border states and seven contiguous states (Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana). If the directive is given, this will be the first time the National Guard has been used so far north of Mexico, and will affect nearly half the 11.1 million unauthorised people living in the U.S., who, according to 2014 Census data, live in the 11 target states.

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    President Rips Media, Courts in Press Conference

    “I’m not ranting and raving. I love this.” So said President Donald Trump, who yesterday convened reporters to introduce lawyer Alexander Acosta as his new labor secretary nominee, but blasted journalists for “fake news” linking him to Russia and a “bad court” for derailing his travel ban. He also dismissed a question about bomb threats against Jewish centers as “insulting” and told a Black reporter to “set up a meeting” for him with the Congressional Black Caucus. Meanwhile, the Justice Department announced a new executive order on immigration to be signed next week.

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    Pakistan Shuts Afghan Border Crossings After Shrine Attack

    They’re taking no chances. At least 75 people died yesterday and 150 were injured when a bombing, claimed by ISIS, devastated a Sufi shrine in Sindh province. It was the fifth attack in Pakistan this week, with 20 children reportedly among the dead. Overnight, authorities raided suspected militant hideouts, arresting 47 people and killing another 39, while two major border crossings into Afghanistan were closed as Pakistan’s government demanded that Kabul extradite 76 other terror suspects. Three days of mourning have commenced in Sindh, and local shrines have been closed temporarily.

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    Robert Harward Turns Down Security Adviser Job

    Flynn’s an awkward act to follow. Retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward was chosen to succeed disgraced national security adviser Mike Flynn — but has turned down the job. It’s a setback for the White House, which President Trump yesterday defended as “a fine-tuned machine.” The administration may now turn to acting adviser Keith Kellogg or sex-scandal tainted former general David Petraeus, as reports surface that Flynn not only lied to the vice president about his pre-inauguration Russian diplomatic calls, but to the FBI, which would be a felony offense.

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    Samsung Chief Arrested in Presidential Scandal

    The heat is on. Samsung de-facto chief Lee Jae-yong, the 48-year-old heir to South Korea’s biggest family fortune, was formally arrested over his alleged role in the country’s ongoing influence-peddling scandal. It’s already led to the December impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, and continues to rock the country’s oligarchic upper echelons. Prosecutors now have ten days to officially indict Lee — whose company was hoping for a quieter new year following last year’s exploding Note 7 phone scandal, but may now need to stabilize a volatile leadership vacuum.

  7. Whaling’s Comeback, Tony Blair’s Plan and the PDB Quiz

    Know This: The whaling industry in Iceland is seeing more demand for cetacean cuisine from restaurants that cater to tourists. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is calling on those who oppose Brexit to “rise up” and stop it. And American wrestler Sam Adonis is using a Trump voter persona to become Mexico’s biggest wrestling villain.

    Try This: Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB quiz.

    Talk to Us:  We want your feedback on the Presidential Daily Brief — what you think we’re doing right and what we should be doing differently. Send us an email at pdbrief@ozy.com.

intriguing

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    Legislation Urges Texans to Reject Ersatz Flag Emoji

    Hey, they’re both red, white and blue. There is no commonly available Texas flag emoji, so some Texans use the Chilean flag, which has the same color scheme and single star but replaces the Lone Star State’s vertical blue stripe with a blue square. That’s a red line for Texas state Rep. Tom Oliverson, who’s introduced legislation encouraging Texans to desist — and “hereby reject the notion that the Chilean flag, although it is a nice flag, can in any way compare to or be substituted for the official state flag of Texas.”

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    Emissions Infamy Is Up in the Air

    Breathe it and weep. While looking at emissions levels country by country puts China squarely ahead of the U.S., some scientists advocate a different standard: Household consumption, which makes Americans the world’s worst polluters again, with levels ten times higher than that of your average Chinese citizen. While globalization means companies unable to pollute at home may open a factory elsewhere, consumption figures give individuals a sense of control over their carbon footprint — and spotlight supply chains, which account for about 80 percent of the emissions each of us is responsible for.

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    Clues to Life Found on Dwarf Planet

    Is that how we got here? Scientists and researchers believe they have discovered organic compounds on the surface of Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars. Ceres has been monitored, mapped and inspected by the Dawn spacecraft since 2015, with studies previously finding evidence of salt, ammonia, water ice and carbonates. Yet this discovery marks the first unambiguous detection of organic molecules naturally formed on an asteroid, suggesting space rocks may have been delivery systems for life’s building blocks throughout the universe — even to primordial Earth.

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    Diverse Audiences Grooving on Black TV Shows

    They’re being judged by the content and their characters. A new Nielsen study has revealed that non-Black viewers make up more than 50 percent of the average audience for shows with mostly Black casts like Black-ish, How To Get Away With Murder and Atlanta. It’s a departure from past trends, when few shows with Black casts saw audience crossover, and those that did weren’t nearly as sharp or political as the current crop. Nielsen’s Andrew McCaskill notes that this could push diversity on TV — and push advertisers toward Black shows.

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    How You Can Support Special Olympians in Austria

    Make it a winter wonderland. Crowdfunding platform GoFundMe has launched 500 online campaigns sponsoring various aspects of the Special Olympics — from individual athletes, who need roughly $2,500 each to participate, to the event’s organizing committee. Olympians like U.S. snowboarding gold medalist Hannah Teter and superstar American gymnast Simone Biles are supporting the effort, with some campaigning on behalf of specific teams or athletes ahead of this year’s event. The Winter Games, scheduled for next month, will gather some 2,700 athletes in Austria to represent 110 home countries.