The Presidential Daily Brief

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    A Man Has Been Arrested For Threats Against Jewish Centers

    Time to face the music. Juan Thompson was arrested in St Louis, Missouri, for allegedly making phone threats against eight Jewish Community Centers (JCC) and sending an email threat to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) offices in New York City. Thompson, 31, allegedly made the threats in his ex-girlfriend’s name, and will appear in court today. Since the beginning of the year, at least 100 phone threats have been made to Jewish institutions around the country according to the JCC Association of North America, and three Jewish cemeteries have been vandalized. 

     

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    Jeff Sessions Recuses Himself From Russia Inquiries

    Sessions adjourned. The attorney general says he’ll remove himself from any campaign-related investigations, including Russia’s possible election interference, after it came to light that he’d lied under oath about meeting Russia’s ambassador during the campaign. Sessions now says he was acting only as a U.S. senator when he met with Sergey Kislyak, but records indicate that Sessions’ trip was financed by campaign funds. Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente will oversee any related investigations. While the White House expressed “total confidence” in Sessions, some lawmakers are demanding his resignation.

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    Egypt’s Former President Cleared of Killings

    They called it Cairo’s trial of the century. Now, former President Hosni Mubarak has been acquitted by Egypt’s highest court of appeals. The ruling effectively leaves him free to go, in a blow to the families of Arab Spring protesters who died trying to oust him in 2011. The ailing 88-year old dictator was initially charged for his role in crackdowns that left hundreds dead. Meanwhile, thousands of protesters are still languishing in prison amidst a new wave of repression that some see as worse than Mubarak’s reign.

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    While Governor, Pence Used Private, Insecure Email Accounts

    It’s legal in Indiana. Vice President Mike Pence’s office has confirmed that he used two private email accounts — one of which was compromised by a hacker — while leading the Hoosier State. Pence’s press secretary rejected comparisons to Hillary Clinton, whose private email account Pence vocally derided during the campaign, saying state law allows public officials to use private accounts. However, questions remain about emails reportedly too classified to be disclosed to the press that were stored on Pence’s AOL account, alongside his private business.

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    EU on Verge of Approving ChemChina-Syngenta Merger

    It’s a growing trend. If ChemChina gets approval for its $43 billion takeover of Swiss seed giant Syngenta, it’ll be China’s biggest cross-border transaction ever. It will also set the stage for consolidating agribusiness around the world with two other major mergers in the food industry: Dow Chemical’s marriage to Dupont and Bayer’s takeover of Monsanto. Syngenta hopes that the deal can be closed by the end of June, though the two companies are still waiting for regulators in China and the U.S. to grant their approval.

  6. The End of Visa-Free Travel, Snapchat’s Bonanza and the PDB Quiz

    Know This: Some EU lawmakers are calling to end visa-free travel for Americans because citizens of several EU countries don’t enjoy the same privilege in the United States. GOP Sen. Rand Paul staged a dramatic media stunt demanding to see the Obamacare replacement bill that Republicans are working on — but was refused. And Snapchat’s stock soared 44 percent on its first day of trading.

    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.

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    Cuban Airline Battles for US Airspace

    Their planes are even red, white and blue. Though several U.S. airlines eagerly premiered new U.S.-to-Cuba routes last year as relations with the island nation slowly normalized, Cubana de Aviación, Cuba’s official airline, still isn’t making the trip. That’s because lingering embargo rules mean Cuban assets in the U.S. — aka planes stopping to pick up passengers — could potentially be seized by authorities, an uncertainty that won’t be resolved unless new embargo-lifting legislation passes. Meanwhile, Cubana’s hurting for the cash it needs to spruce up its fleet.

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    Bitcoin Surpasses Gold’s Value for First Time

    In monetary terms, it’s good as gold. The exchange price of a single unit of Bitcoin reached $1,263.72 Thursday, meaning it’s now worth more than an ounce of gold. The digital cryptocurrency’s value has risen more than 25 percent in 2017, and 185 percent over the past year. Some blame the weak yuan, saying Chinese traders hoping to evade currency controls are stocking up. Yet with the digital currency so infamously volatile, don’t expect to hear of any real-world currencies pegging themselves to the “bitcoin standard” anytime soon.

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    Gene Therapy Leads to Possible Sickle Cell Breakthrough

    Blood (and time) will tell. Researchers are hesitant to say they’ve found the cure for sickle cell disease, a genetic hemoglobin abnormality that causes pain, anemia and infections — but by adding edited genes to stem cells, the treatment appears to have cured one French teenager. Other patients haven’t responded to the same therapy as completely as the teen, who has no sign of the disease and is no longer taking medications. Doctors say it’s an extremely promising sign, though, that gene therapy could one day stop sickle cell.

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    Scorsese-Led Restoration Project Turns to African Films

    It’s a first step. The African Film Heritage Project is the latest restoration initiative from director Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation, aiming to preserve African movies one by one with hopes of inspiring a new generation of cinemagoers and filmmakers. Cheick Oumar Sissoko, secretary general of the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers, a partner on the project, says it’s vital to reviving African identity: “Africa needs her own images, her own gaze testifying on her behalf.” The foundation will now choose the first 50 films to get restoration underway.

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    Source Says Colin Kaepernick to Stand for Anthem Again

    He’s taken his stand. The 49ers quarterback reportedly won’t kneel for the national anthem next season, ending his controversial 2016 protest to bring attention to systemic discrimination against people of color. His act sparked debates over the Black Lives Matter movement and appropriate ways to protest police brutality. Now a source says he doesn’t want to detract from the positive change that’s begun — which may be a relief to potential new teams: His new agents announced Kaepernick’s opting out of his contract and becoming a free agent.