The Presidential Daily Brief

important

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    US Economic Growth Rate at Three Year Low

    Will slow and steady win the race? First quarter reporting from the White House reveals that the economy has expanded at an annual rate of 0.7 percent – the lowest since the first quarter of 2014. Investment officer Nancy Curtin said the low is ”in line with the seasonal trend,” and results from Trump’s as yet unseen fiscal stimulus won’t be observed until next year. Economists say the slow down is due to flaccid consumer spending, but that a “rebound” is likely. Trump’s campaign promises included increasing growth to 4 percent, so there’s a long way to go if his administration is to deliver.

     

     

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    Congress Delays Health Care Vote to Avoid Shutdown

    Win some, lose some. Congress has passed a one-week extension to keep the federal government’s lights on through May 5. The stopgap spending measure is now heading to the Senate where it will likely be approved. The White House had hoped a vote on a revised GOP replacement for Obamacare could deliver a legislative win for President Donald Trump before his 100th day in office tomorrow, but the vote has reportedly been delayed as lawmakers focus on avoiding a government shutdown. Next week lawmakers are expected to propose a longer-term government spending plan that’ll last through September.

     

     

     

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    Europe Could Welcome ‘United Ireland’ to Post-Brexit EU

    Break up or make up? As the U.K. prepares for the 2019 split, the Irish government is seeking an official EU declaration that Northern Ireland could automatically re-enter the bloc if it votes to reunite with the Republic of Ireland. While such language is already embedded in the Good Friday Agreement, the move’s a politically sensitive one, as Scottish politicians demand another independence referendum and concern grows that Brexit could trigger the breakup of the United Kingdom. EU officials will discuss the matter at a summit this weekend.

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    Nationalists Storm Macedonian Parliament

    Fists were flying. Dozens of masked protesters broke into the Skopje parliament building after Talat Xhaferi, an ethnic Albanian politician, was elected speaker. Supporters of ex-Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, who won disputed December elections but has been unable to form a coalition government, reportedly attacked lawmakers, injuring 10 MPs. Ethnic Albanians make up about 25 percent of Macedonia’s population, but nationalist factions have resisted their participation in politics. Now, with Russia condemning Western mediation, some fear the spreading political crisis could endanger Macedonia’s hopes to join NATO and the EU.

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    Social Media Ban Strains Already Tense Kashmir

    There’s no app for this. Spooked by mounting tensions in the volatile Kashmir region, the Indian government has banned 22 social media services, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and WhatsApp, for 30 days. Officials are worried they’re being used to foment revolution, but enforcing the unprecedented ban is proving difficult: Kashmir’s telecom company says it’s been unable to shut down access to the sites without blocking the internet completely. Meanwhile, advocacy groups in India and abroad are calling for an end to the edict, saying it impinges on free speech.

  6. United Settles, Trump’s Diplomacy and the PDB Quiz

    Know This: David Dao, the United Airlines passenger whose violent removal from a plane sparked outrage, has reached a settlement with the airline for an undisclosed amount. Amid growing concerns of war with North Korea, President Trump has said a “major, major conflict” is possible, but he would prefer a diplomatic solution. And Arkansas has executed its fourth death row inmate in a week, just days before part of its lethal injection cocktail expires.

    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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    Cassini Returns From First Dive Into Saturn’s Rings

    Follow the ringleader. After briefly losing contact with NASA, the 20-year-old spacecraft beamed back dramatic images, including the best views yet of the giant hurricane raging at Saturn’s north pole. This first dive brought it within 1,900 miles of the planet’s cloud tops and 200 miles of the inner rings. With its fuel running out, Cassini’s begun its final mission: increasingly close and dangerous dives to collect data on Saturn’s atmosphere and magnetic field. It’ll make 21 more dives before plunging into the planet’s surface Sept. 15.

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    Uber’s Autonomous Car Chief Steps Aside Amid Legal Trouble

    It’s getting Waymo serious. Anthony Levandowski, head of Uber’s self-driving car program, announced he’ll step aside as litigation with its Alphabet-owned rival heats up. Levandowski’s at the center of a lawsuit accusing him of stealing 14,000 “highly confidential” files — particularly radar sensor technology that helps cars navigate around obstacles — while working for Waymo. Uber maintains its version is “fundamentally different” from its competitor’s technology. With a hearing scheduled for next week, a U.S. district judge will decide whether to grant Waymo’s injunction.

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    Researchers Discover New Path to the Past

    Make no bones about it. For the first time, scientists have recovered ancient human DNA without needing to analyze bones or teeth, thereby opening up new possibilities for probing prehistory. By analyzing sediment in Ice Age caves where our extinct evolutionary cousins would have lived, researchers identified DNA from both Neanderthals and Denisovans. The technique, which involves sequencing the genomes of mitochondria within the dirt, was first used on plants and animals in 2003 — but this marks the first time it has successfully been used to identify hominid DNA.

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    ‘Blurred Lines’ Composers Appeal Against Copyrighting ‘Groove’

    They don’t want to give it up. Despite famously losing a 2015 copyright infringement lawsuit over the hit song “Blurred Lines,” Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’ lawyers have struck back at the ruling, insisting it’s impossible to copyright a “groove” or “feeling” — and therefore no infringement took place. The duo had been ordered to pay Marvin Gaye’s estate $7.4 million, later reduced to $5.3 million, for ripping off “Got To Give It Up.” Thicke and Williams maintain they were simply inspired by the song, claiming their version is significantly different.

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    FIFA Investigated Over Russia and Qatar World Cup Bids

    Better late than never. French authorities have questioned former FIFA boss Sepp Blatter over allegations of corruption surrounding the contentious decisions to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar. The scandal-ridden organization also faces bribery and corruption investigations from Switzerland and the United States. The controversial decision to award Qatar the 2022 event especially raised eyebrows, and it’s thought to have triggered Blatter’s ouster in 2015. FIFA has said there’s no legal way to rescind hosting duties once they’ve been awarded.