The Presidential Daily Brief

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    Trump Denies Controversial Comments to Soldier’s Widow

    “He knew what he signed up for.” Those were allegedly President Donald Trump’s words to Myeshia Johnson, the pregnant widow of Army Sergeant La David Johnson, who was killed in Niger two weeks ago. During Trump’s five-minute call to Johnson, he admitted that “it hurts anyway” — but his comments, which he’s disputed, have been criticized for insensitivity. The mother of the fallen soldier says Trump disrespected her family, but the president maintains his comments were “fabricated” by Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson, who originally reported the conversation. 

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    Senators Strike Bipartisan Deal on Health Care Payments

    Baby steps. GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray have proposed a bipartisan agreement to stabilize U.S. health insurance markets by preserving federal payments to insurers for another two years. The subsidies were recently stopped by President Trump in what was seen as an effort to force a deal by penalizing low-income consumers. His action is expected to cause a hike in premiums. Trump indicated he’d support the senators’ “short-term solution,” but then reversed course. Either way, it still needs to pass both houses of Congress.

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    China’s Communist Party Congress Begins

    Every little thing Xi does is magic. President Xi Jinping spoke for over three hours today as his long-awaited party conference opened in Beijing, calling on the country to achieve the “Chinese dream” of a national renaissance. In the speech, he promised a continued crackdown on corruption, openness to the world and a plan for a “socialist modernization” of environmental and economic reforms by 2050. Over the next week, Xi will choose high-ranking officials for his next — though not necessarily last — five-year term in power.

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    Federal Judge Blocks Most of Trump’s Latest Travel Ban

    The third time wasn’t charmed. A U.S. district court in Hawaii has put a hold on most of President Trump’s third attempted travel ban. The latest try, which added some restrictions against citizens of two non-Muslim-majority countries, “suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor,” according to Judge Derrick Watson, who was also responsible for blocking the last ban attempt. Rules prohibiting North Koreans and certain Venezuelan officials, plus stricter scrutiny for Iraqis, were upheld and take effect today. The Justice Department is expected to appeal.

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    Bob Weinstein Accused of Sexual Harassment

    Like brother, like brother. As the scandal surrounding numerous allegations of inappropriate behavior against Harvey Weinstein burgeons, TV showrunner Amanda Segel says his brother and former producing partner sexually harassed her and punished her professionally after she rejected his advances. Others have also accused Bob Weinstein of belittling and bullying employees. Meanwhile, Amazon Studios head Roy Price has resigned after he was accused of sexual harassment — and more than 140 women in California’s legislature have spoken out to denounce what they describe as a pervasive sexist culture in state government.

  6. Sean Spicer, Turnarounds and Hate Crimes

    Know This: Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has been interviewed for Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race. A British neo-Nazi who spent his life in the service of racist causes has denounced white supremacy and revealed that he is gay and Jewish, saying he’ll now devote his time to fighting discrimination. And a senior election official in Kenya has resigned and fled to the U.S. ahead of next week’s re-vote, saying the country’s unable to hold a credible election.

    Remember This Number: 80,393. That’s how many hate crimes were reported in the U.K. between March 2016 and March 2017, according to Britain’s Home Office — a nearly 30 percent jump that some experts attribute to rising racial animosity in the wake of the Brexit referendum.

    Talk to Us: OZY wants to know how the Trump era has impacted your romantic relationships. We’re conducting a nationwide poll with our partners at SurveyMonkey on Love in the Age of Trump, and we want to hear from readers who are in a relationship that’s divided along political lines. If you’re interested in being featured in future OZY stories, email polls@ozy.com with your tale of Trump-inspired conflict or triumph.

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    Connecticut Hopes for Blue-Collar Renaissance

    If they build it, will anyone come? Despite being the country’s richest state per capita, Connecticut’s $2 billion budget deficit and ongoing corporate exodus threaten the wealthy enclave’s future — especially in its once manufacturing-heavy capital. Hartford, far removed from the state’s wealthy coastal towns, is hoping high-tech entrepreneurial centers, a new university campus and a $623 million rail project will start filling vacant warehouses with a young, talented workforce. But stalled projects and the ongoing fiscal crisis could stunt that growth — and Connecticut’s dream of attracting new blood.

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    Europe Falls Short in Gender Balance Goal

    This isn’t working. In 2003, the Council of Europe set a goal to have 40 percent of top public positions filled by women in each of its 47 member states. Today, none of the countries have hit that target — and less than 17 percent of executives in local, regional and national governments are women. A new report on the disappointing progress notes that proportional representation systems have proven more equitable, and the council recommends that political parties institute gender quotas if they’re serious about hitting the 40 percent goal.

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    ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’ Wins Man Booker Prize

    Well, this is novel. George Saunders, known for satirical short stories, has won Britain’s most prestigious literary prize for his first full-length work of fiction, a ghostly meditation about the death of Abraham Lincoln’s son. Only British Commonwealth citizens were eligible for the $66,000 award until 2014, but Saunders is now the second American to win. He said the novel had percolated for decades, but he’d finally written it because “on your own gravestone you don’t want it to say, ‘Avoided the thing he most wanted to do.’”

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    Gordon Hayward Suffers Horrible Ankle Injury in Celtics Debut

    Players and spectators had to look away. Five minutes into his first game with Boston, the All-Star forward collided with LeBron James and collapsed under the net with a dislocated ankle and a fractured tibia. Hayward had to be stretchered off the court. A fan favorite with the Utah Jazz for seven years, he’d just signed a four-year, $128 million contract with the Celtics and was a vital part of their winning strategy. Now Boston may need a backup plan as Hayward goes into surgery today.