The Presidential Daily Brief

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    NBC’s Matt Lauer Fired After Sexual Misconduct Allegation

    That makes two. On Wednesday, the longtime “Today” show host became the second morning television personality in a week to be sacked over claims of inappropriate sexual behavior. Lauer’s dismissal was announced in a memo to employees from NBC News chief Andrew Lack, who said the allegation, made by a colleague, represented a “clear violation” of company policy. Last week, CBS News fired host Charlie Rose after numerous women accused him of sexual misconduct. Meanwhile, popular radio host Garrison Keillor said Wednesday he’d also been sacked over allegations of improper behavior.

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    North Korea Fires New ICBM

    They’re out to launch. In its first missile test since September, Pyongyang claims to have fired a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile that could strike anywhere in the United States. The missile reportedly flew higher and longer than previous attempts. Tensions have spiked between Washington and Pyongyang this year after a string of missile tests and a war of words between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. Trump, who officially designated North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism a week ago, promised to “handle” the situation.

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    Senate GOP Tax Bill Gains New Momentum

    “Think of sitting there with a Rubik’s Cube trying to get to 50.” That’s how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell described trying to negotiate the GOP tax overhaul’s path to passage. The bill cleared a hurdle yesterday when the Senate Budget Committee approved it along party lines — a win that wasn’t certain after Republican Sens. Bob Corker and Ron Johnson voiced concerns about the legislation. Nonetheless, they decided to move the $1.5 trillion plan forward, sending it to the Senate floor for a final vote as soon as this week.

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    Trump, Democrats Battle Over Federal Shutdown

    Nobody’s budging on the budget. If bipartisan spending measures aren’t passed by Dec. 8, the government faces a shutdown. But after President Trump accused Democrats of using the opportunity to raise taxes and encourage illegal immigration, Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi pulled out of a meeting with him. Trump responded by staging a photo op with empty chairs. Meanwhile, his standoff over leadership of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau seems to be going his way, with a judge refusing to block Trump’s controversial bid to install a new director.

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    Ex-Employee Claims Uber Had Unit for Stealing Trade Secrets

    This was a wrong turn. Uber is currently fighting a $1.8 billion lawsuit from Waymo alleging that it stole confidential self-driving car technology. In a pretrial hearing yesterday, a former Uber employee said the company had an entire team focused on stealing industry secrets and avoiding regulators. Judge William Alsup is delaying the trial indefinitely due to the seriousness of the allegations, though Uber says they don’t change the “merits of the case” since the employee didn’t specifically discuss stealing information from Waymo.

  6. Bitcoin, Trump’s ‘Access Hollywood’ Recollections and Condom Shortages

    Know This: Bitcoin traded at more than $10,000 per unit last night, smashing a much-anticipated milestone. President Trump is reportedly questioning the validity of the infamous Access Hollywood tape he previously admitted was real and apologized for. And the suspect in last month’s New York City truck attack has pleaded not guilty. 

    Read This: Doctors in Venezuela say that the country’s economic shortages have made contraceptives scarce — and caused a spike in unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

    Talk to Us: Tell us how you really feel. Our electrifying TV show, Third Rail With OZY, is shelving the PC and whipping up debates. Each week we’re posting a provocative question, and we want you to weigh in. This week: Should parents spank their children? Email thirdrail@ozy.com with your thoughts, and we might feature your answer next week.

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    In Ukraine, LGBT Asylum-Seekers Face Hurdles

    This is no refuge. Though Ukraine is set to join the United Nations Human Rights Council next year, critics say the country hasn’t dealt with its own discrimination against the LGBT community. Kiev’s record on accepting asylum-seekers is dismal overall, with only 71 of 656 applicants approved in 2016, but activists say it’s significantly worse for gay, lesbian and transgender people seeking refuge from more prejudiced countries in the region. While Ukraine’s making small strides at reforming politics and society, observers hope its new U.N. seat will force more meaningful action.

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    Automation Will Hit Rich Countries’ Jobs First

    They’ll work from the top down. Technological advances will heavily impact many industries, but forecasts from the McKinsey Global Institute suggest they’ll strike the most developed countries first. That means robots pose more of a threat to middle-class jobs — like office administration or construction — in the U.S. than in India or Brazil. By 2030 automation could erase as many as 73 million American jobs, and up to 800 million worldwide, although the report’s authors say economic growth and a changing labor market could help fill the gap.

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    Scarlet Fever Cases Hit 50-Year High in England

    It’s the real red menace. Though the disease peaked in the 19th century and had been in steep decline since the discovery of penicillin, it appears to be making a resurgence in Britain. Between 2013 and 2014 the number of cases tripled, and in 2016 rates of infection rose again, with 19,206 cases reported. Scarlet fever mostly affects children. While infections appear to have declined slightly in 2017, doctors say discovering the still-mysterious cause of the outbreak “remains a public health priority” and they warn people to take precautions.

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    Online Voting System Shakes Up Grammy Nominations

    They’re not even a little bit country. Hip-hop and R&B dominated the 2018 Grammy nominations — and no country artist was nominated for the first time since 2004, a switch some attribute to a new online voting process. Diversity abounded: For the first time, none of the Album of the Year nominees were white men. Meanwhile, every nominee for Record of the Year was a person of color, and “Despacito” became the first Spanish-language song nominated for Song of the Year. The winners will be announced Jan. 28.

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    Eli Manning Won’t Start, Breaking 210-Game Streak

    It’s one giant leap. The New York Giants announced they’ll bench the 36-year-old veteran this weekend, instead giving Geno Smith, the first Black quarterback to start a game in franchise history, a chance against the Oakland Raiders. The move ends Manning’s 210 consecutive regular-season starts for the Giants, who are a disappointing 2-9 this season. Manning said coach Ben McAdoo offered to let him play the first halves of the upcoming games to keep the streak alive, but the two-time Super Bowl champ declined.