The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Trump Orders Military To Begin Afghanistan Withdrawal

    The announcement will see nearly 7,000 troops withdrawn and is expected to take months. Planning has begun, defense sources say, and was decided Tuesday alongside President Trump’s move to fully withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. Around 14,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan as part of a N.A.T.O.-led training program for local troops. Already military and defense experts have slammed the move which is expected to be the first step in ending involvement in the 17-year war.



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    Trump Declares ISIS Defeated, Announces Full Syria Withdrawal

    “They’re all coming back, and they’re coming back now.” So said President Donald Trump yesterday, announcing that 2,000 American troops will leave Syria after years of battling ISIS militants. Trump’s abrupt announcement provoked backlash on Capitol Hill: Sen. Lindsey Graham called it a “stain on the honor of the United States” and lawmakers warned that remaining ISIS fighters would be emboldened by the move. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and top security advisers reportedly argued that withdrawal would surrender U.S. influence in the region to the Syrian regime, Iran and Russia.

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    US Senate Passes Stopgap to Avert Government Shutdown

    It’s not quite a Christmas miracle. But senators sang Christmas carols during yesterday’s vote to authorize a seven-week spending bill that staves off an impending shutdown. It provides only $1.6 billion for border security rather than the $5 billion President Trump sought for his border wall, but the legislation extends the deadline for funding 25 percent of the federal government to Feb. 8. If the bill passes the House, Trump is expected to sign it despite his comments that he’d be “proud” to shut down the government for border security.

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    North Korea Says US Nuclear Threat Must Be ‘Eliminated’

    Before denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, American nuclear threats must be removed, Pyongyang’s state media said today. The editorial reminded readers that the Korean peninsula includes South Korea, where the U.S. housed nuclear weapons until 1991. A joint statement released in June by President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to “work toward complete denuclearization.” But negotiations have largely stalled as the U.S. refuses to remove sanctions. Yesterday, the administration’s Pyongyang envoy said they were looking to facilitate humanitarian shipments to help with the talks.

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    Federal Reserve Raises Interest Rates Again

    Despite public pressure from President Trump to continue with loose monetary policy, America’s central bank raised short-term interest rates Wednesday for the fourth time this year. A unanimous decision upped the benchmark federal-funds rate a quarter point, to a range of 2.25 to 2.5 percent, following the Fed’s two-day policy meeting. But in a statement the bank signaled a milder future of rate hikes that includes “some further gradual increases.” The Dow slid 352 points and the S&P 500 dropped as much as 2.3 percent at the news.

  6. Catholic Cover-Up, Social Media Suit and Japanese Whalers

    Know This: The Illinois attorney general has accused the Catholic Church of withholding the names of at least 500 priests accused of sexually abusing minors. Facebook is facing a lawsuit from Washington, D.C., for privacy violations related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. And Japan is likely to resume commercial whaling and withdraw from the International Whaling Commission by the end of this year, according to reports.

    Remember This Number: 3 million. That’s how many prescription opioids one pharmaceutical company sent a West Virginia town of only 400 people over 10 months, according to a congressional report released yesterday.

    #OZYFacts: Have you been tested? From 2013 to 2017, syphilis cases in the U.S. nearly doubled and gonorrhea increased by 67 percent.

    Are you an OZY fan? We’d love to learn more about you. Take our five-minute audience survey for the chance to win tickets to OZY Fest 2019 — or a trip to California to meet the OZY Tribe at our next team retreat.


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    GoFundMe Campaign Asks Trump Voters to Finance Border Wall

    As of Thursday morning, “We The People Will Fund The Wall” had raised more than $2.4 million of its $1 billion goal from over 40,000 donors. “If the 63 million people who voted for Trump each pledge $80, we can build the wall,” said the campaign’s creator, Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage. After the president’s request for $5 billion from Congress to construct a wall on the Mexican border was denied this week, a White House spokesperson said they’d look at “different” sources of funding — but didn’t mention crowdsourcing.

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    THC Can Reprogram Sperm Cells, Study Says

    Although scientists have long known cannabis lowers sperm counts, new research suggests it also has a genetic impact. A Duke University study published Wednesday found that both rats and humans who consumed THC weekly saw changes in the genes of their sperm cells. The psychoactive chemical in cannabis was found to alter genetic instructions for how organs grow and how the body suppresses tumors. Scientists don’t yet know if that change could make children more vulnerable to cancer. They cautioned that their sample size was small and more research is needed.

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    Why Do Americans Buy So Many Cookbooks?

    Folks are craving celebrity recipes like comfort food. In the first half of 2018, U.S. cookbook sales rose 21 percent compared with the previous year. And of Amazon’s top 50 cookbooks, eight were written by famous faces. That includes the best-selling culinary book of 2018, Magnolia Table, by Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s Fixer Upper, which has sold more than 676,000 copies. Voracious readers are also looking to complement new specialty appliances like the Air Fryer, with industry analysts looking at Christmas sales to predict a potential cookbook binge.

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    Eliza Dushku Speaks Out on Sexual Harassment Case

    In The Boston Globe Wednesday, the former Bull star detailed her $9.5 million sexual harassment settlement from CBS, hitting out at co-star Michael Weatherly and producer Glenn Caron. Dushku claims Weatherly — who reportedly bragged about his friendship with then-CEO Leslie Moonves — regularly made sexual comments to her on set and that Caron wrote her off the show when she complained. “This is not a ‘he-said/she-said’ case,” stated Dushku, noting Weatherly’s behavior was captured on video. “Retaliation is illegal, not to mention unfair and painful.”

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    Major League Baseball Strikes Deal to Welcome Cuban Players

    The landmark agreement lets standouts from the Cuban Baseball Federation join MLB teams without having to defect, aiming to end the trafficking — often by criminal organizations — and endangerment of Cuban nationals. Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, for example, was stranded for days on a deserted island in 1997 trying to reach the United States. Under the new deal, all professional Cubans at least 25 years old with six seasons under their belt are free to sign with a major league team and still return home in the offseason.