The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Missteps and Promises as Congress Returns

    Their best-laid plan went awry. The GOP, with full control of Congress, had hoped to project unity as the new session began. But when they tried to disempower the Office of Congressional Ethics after a closed-door vote, lawmakers faced immediate public outcry, resistance from Democrats and even a rebuke from President-elect Donald Trump. They quickly reversed course, but the political damage was done. Now, after certifying Trump’s Electoral College win yesterday, they’re steaming ahead with a plan to repeal Obamacare and nullify any last-minute regulations issued by President Obama. 

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    Donald Trump to Hold First Press Conference Since Election

    Or will he? The president-elect promised a December press conference to explain how he’ll sever business ties that could present a conflict of interest while he’s in office — and then postponed it. His transition team says it’s now scheduled for next Wednesday, but some remain skeptical. Meanwhile, he continues to reach the public via Twitter: After news broke that Trump plans to ask U.S. taxpayers to fund a border wall rather than fulfilling his pledge to make Mexico pay for it, he tweeted that Mexico would refund the money “later.”

  3. Putin

    Russia May Already Be the Next Big Superpower

    This is Putin’s world, and we just live in it. Russia currently has the upper hand on the world stage — and that may be a result of President Vladimir Putin consciously playing a long game. Countries on the Russian frontier like Ukraine and Estonia have seen the results of Putin testing boundaries. U.S. intelligence reports have concluded that Putin personally directed Russian hacking into the American election, which President-elect Donald Trump acknowledged yesterday was possible. And now, Trump may inherit a new cold war — one that’s already heating up.

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    El Salvador Health Workers Fight Back Against Restrictive Abortion Laws

    They’re taking a defiant stand. In El Salvador, one of just six countries in the world where abortion is banned, getting the procedure — or helping perform one — can result in upwards of 10 years in jail. But with suicide the leading cause of death for pregnant teens, an underground movement of health care providers is determined to beat the system. Even though the absolute ban is enshrined in the country’s constitution, doctors have devised ways to elude the police, and European activists smuggle in drugs that induce medical abortions.

  5. Airport Shooting, Tilikum’s Passing and Michelle Obama’s Final Message

    Know This: Five people died in a shooting at the Fort Lauderdale Airport before the suspect, U.S. military veteran Esteban Santiago, surrendered to police. Santiago was charged with three federal charges that each carry the possibility of the death penalty. Carrie Fisher’s ashes, in an urn shaped like a Prozac pill, have been laid to rest beside those of her mother. And Tilikum, the orca famous for killing his own trainer at SeaWorld, has died at age 36. 

    Watch This: Michelle Obama teared up during her final speech as first lady, telling America’s youth: “Don’t be afraid.” 

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    WeChat’s Red Packets Have Revolutionized Messaging

    It’s much more than texting. Starting in 2014, China’s social messaging app WeChat began exploding with friends sending each other red envelopes — a digital spin on the age-old Chinese gift-giving tradition — revealing variable amounts of cash when opened and offering the addictive thrill of reward with a gambling twist. It’s sparked a war with Alibaba over a mobile payments market that’s already exceeded that of the U.S. An established payment culture and gambling regulators make it difficult for a copycat to gain an American foothold — but expect someone to try.

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    This Student Is Turning Brain Waves Into Action

    It’s science, not magic. But when Bicheng Han deploys his special headband to manipulate objects with his thoughts, it sure looks like a supernatural power. His 2-year-old startup, BrainCo., is turning heads in the field of neurofeedback training — a medical therapy that’s rapidly becoming available for consumer use, with the market expected to hit $11 billion by 2020. But it is hard for a novice to pick up, as OZY discovered at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and faces ample skepticism in getting off the ground.

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    The Silent Epidemic of Depression Among Refugees

    The warning signs aren’t always obvious. Refugee camps like Mae La, a massive settlement along the Thailand-Myanmar border, see significant rates of depression — but Western researchers, studying mental health among camp residents, found many refugees didn’t conform to symptoms detected by standard screenings. Nonetheless, a quarter of the women in Mae La have contemplated suicide, and about 3 percent have attempted it — evidence that mental health services in camps must adapt to identify and treat the sadness stemming from the dislocation, hopelessness and boredom that often accompanies life as a refugee.

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    How Mark Burnett Created the Reality TV Universe

    You’re hired. From Survivor to The Voice to Shark Tank, Burnett perfected the formula that has come to dominate the mass appeal reality genre, offering monetary prizes and wringing drama out of relationships — and making himself fabulously wealthy, with a hit show airing almost every night of the week. The former British army paratrooper has also shaped American culture. The Apprentice — and its real-reality spin-off, The President — gave Burnett the leverage to embark on a series of projects promoting Christianity and conservative ideals now finding their political moment.

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    The Woman Bringing Wingwalking Back to America

    This will never fly. Wingwalking — aerobatics performed on the wings of a small airplane while it’s in flight — gained popularity after WWI and again after WWII, when pilots were plentiful and couples often formed double acts, with women performing on the wings. Now pioneering wingwalker Carol Pilon, one of the last left in the world, not only runs her own business but is also actively encouraging young women to join the sport, despite largely thrill-focused air show audiences who may not appreciate their artistry — and worryingly high fatality rates.