The Presidential Daily Brief

important

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    Sessions’ Russia Meetings Exposed as Investigation Continues

    They’re still on red alert. Last month Attorney General Jeff Sessions denied being in communication with Russian officials while part of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign — but now it appears he met with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice last year. Some Democrats are calling for Sessions’ resignation, or at least that he recuse himself from the FBI investigation into Trump’s Russian connections. Meanwhile, the House Intelligence Committee is launching its own inquiry amid reports that the Obama administration disseminated intelligence on Russia’s election interference, perhaps fearing a post-transition cover-up.

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    Restrained Trump Outlines Optimistic Agenda

    They were all together but not quite united. In an uncharacteristically scripted speech co-authored by adviser Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress departed from his recent pessimistic rhetoric, promising a “new chapter in American greatness.” Reactions on the floor stuck to party lines as Trump revisited well-known policies: extreme vetting, building the wall, repealing Obamacare. He remained focused on hardline immigration enforcement, leaving opponents braced for the expected release of his revised travel ban as he decried “uncontrolled entry” at the podium.

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    Embattled French Conservative Candidate Won’t Quit

    When is a routine campaign stop more than a routine campaign stop? François Fillon, once expected to be France’s next president — now embroiled in a corruption scandal over wages he paid to his wife, though she allegedly did no work — abruptly canceled a Paris appearance at the last minute. The event, an agricultural fair, is considered key to winning rural voters. Fillon later gave a press conference saying he’ll be under judicial investigation as of March 15 — but he’s staying in the race, despite widespread speculation to the contrary.

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    Russia and China Veto UN Sanctions on Syria

    They’re sticking together. Despite sharp words from U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who called it “a sad day on the Security Council,” Russia and China voted against proposed sanctions punishing the Syrian government for its alleged use of chemical weapons. This is the seventh time Russia has protected Bashar Assad’s government via U.N. veto, and the sixth time China has done so since the war broke out in 2011. With President Trump’s administration firmly on the side of sanctions, some wonder if this will stress plans for U.S.-Russia cooperation.

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    After Video Leak, Uber CEO Wants ‘Leadership Help’

    He says it’s time to “grow up.” Uber’s had a tumultuous month already — a sexual harassment investigation, a lawsuit from Alphabet over alleged stolen trade secrets — and now footage has emerged of founder and CEO Travis Kalanick berating an Uber driver who complained that the company had made him “bankrupt.” The Feb. 5 video shows Kalanick accusing the driver of not taking responsibility for himself. Now Kalanick, whose company is valued around $70 billion, says he’ll seek “leadership help,” though it’s not clear whom he’ll tap for guidance.

  6. Trump’s UK Visit Postponed, Snap to Price Shares and the Obamas’ Book Deals

    Know This: British media reports that President Trump’s state visit to the U.K. will be postponed until October after nearly 2 million people signed a petition to cancel the trip. Two women have been charged with the murder of Kim Jong Nam. And Snap Inc. has exceeded expectations and priced its IPO at $17 a share earning it a market valuation of roughly $24 billion.

    Remember This Number: $65 million. That’s the rumored price Penguin Random House agreed to pay for the rights to Barack and Michelle Obama’s separate books — by far the biggest deal for any White House memoirs.

    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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    Activists Fill Myanmar’s Gap in Environmental Protection

    They’re standing up and speaking out. Foreign investment in the developing Southeast Asian country has ballooned to $9.4 billion in 2015-2016, with a third of that cash coming from China. Yet as the resource-rich country accepts more international investments, dilapidated government institutions are often failing to provide the necessary protections for Myanmar’s environment. Now activists, with skills honed by years of dissenting under the old military dictatorship, are stepping up to protest Chinese-built dams, pushing to reform jade industry corruption — and training a new generation to protest.

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    Florida Announces Human Decomposition Research Facility

    They know where the bodies are buried. Officials in Florida are raising funds for the nation’s seventh “body farm,” a facility for studying the ways in which human bodies decompose under various conditions. Such research aids criminal investigations, as well as helping to pioneer virtual autopsies and new geochemical techniques that can determine where a victim lived. There are more than 16,000 cold cases in Florida, which has a unique climate and sees bodies deliquesce in distinctive ways, and officials hope the farm will also create jobs for the living.

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    ‘Clean Eating’ Nutrition Fads Discredited in New Study

    Science: It’s kryptonite for super foods. A new study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reveals that several popular diets might be doing your heart more harm than good. Researchers say coconut oil, with more saturated fat than lard, increases cholesterol; juicing leads to consuming more calories and less fiber; the best antioxidants are found in foods, not supplements; and gluten-free diets are only beneficial for sufferers of celiac disease. The scientists emphasized that a plant-based diet including whole grains is still the best choice.

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    YouTube Launches Streaming TV Service

    But will it still have kitten videos? YouTube has unveiled its much-anticipated streaming service that will give subscribers live content from dozens of major networks, including local affiliates. YouTube TV, the latest challenger to services like Netflix and Hulu, claims to work on any device that can play YouTube and features unlimited storage on a cloud-based DVR, plus integration with Google Home. More than 40 networks, including 10 sports channels, will be available for $35 a month without a contract. It’s expected to launch in select U.S. markets this spring.

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    Michael Phelps Calls for Reform at Anti-Doping Hearing

    He’s done keeping his head down. The retired swimmer, who largely avoided speaking on the subject while active, made his strongest call yet for a revamped and independent anti-doping enforcement system. Speaking before a congressional subcommittee, a frustrated Phelps said that athletes who stay clean can’t be sure the playing field is level when competitors previously busted for performance enhancers are later allowed back into competition. Phelps, the most decorated Olympian ever, warned that without better oversight the system will continue “crushing” young athletes.