They’re not making nice. The U.S. president has vowed to build a wall at the southern border, but Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto has assured his countrymen that they won’t be paying for it. The Mexican leader today canceled his trip to Washington, D.C., where he was meant to meet with Trump next week. Trump, who has insisted that construction will start “soon” and that “we’ll be reimbursed,” responded by calling today for a 20 percent tax on Mexican imports to cover costs. Speaker Paul Ryan said Congress will quickly appropriate the billions needed for the 2,000-mile barrier along the frontera.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They’re doing worse. That’s how the American president justified his embrace of waterboarding, which was outlawed by his predecessor. Trump told ABC News he’d asked intelligence officials if the technique, which simulates drowning, was effective: “The answer was, ‘Yes, absolutely.’” The president is reportedly mulling the revival of “black site” interrogation centers, and said he’d rely on his security team to evaluate specific interrogation methods. “We have to fight fire with fire,” he insisted, since groups like ISIS are “chopping off the heads of people because they happen to be Christian.”
Will it go out with a bang? “I’ve known there was no future for North Korea for a long time,” says former diplomat Thae Yong Ho, who defected to South Korea last year. He predicted that his people would rise up against the brutal, nuclear-armed regime of Kim Jong Un, but said he was heartbroken over his relatives, who “are either sent to remote, closed areas or prison camps.” Thae said he’s not alone, and that North Korean officials feel little loyalty and will eventually turn on their leader.
It’s a postelection victory. The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged above 20,000 points for the first time in history Wednesday, helped by a Trump bump and booming manufacturing sector investment. And while the new president may have throttled a Pacific Rim trade deal, Asian markets didn’t hesitate to follow suit, with Japan’s Nikkei and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumping 1.8 and 1.4 points, respectively. In 42 days, the Dow has made its second-fastest 1,000-point climb ever, but anticipated capital gains tax cuts may eventually spoil the party.
Diplomats Abandon Ship of State, Italians Call Off Avalanche Search and Russians Ease Up on Domestic Abuse
Know This: Top U.S. diplomats resign as Trump’s administration takes shape. Rescuers have stopped searching for survivors at an Italian hotel where an avalanche killed 29 people. Actor Shia LaBeouf was arrested today after a fight at his anti-Trump art installation. And Venus Williams will play in the Australian Open final — against her sister, Serena.
Tolerate This: “The authorities see only benefits behind domestic violence: 1. Many won’t live until retirement age; 2. People will be busy with self-destruction and will not criticize the authorities.” So says a women’s rights activist after the Russian parliamentary vote to decriminalize domestic violence.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
She was America’s liberated sweetheart. As Mary Richards in the 1970s Mary Tyler Moore Show, Moore, who died Wednesday from pneumonia, broke the mold as a never-married, independent working woman, taking feminism mainstream. Her career began with a more traditional role, as the bubbly housewife co-star on Dick Van Dyke’s eponymous 1960s sitcom. Moore, a passionate campaigner for diabetes and animal rights, was remembered as an “enormously powerful” actress by Robert Redford, who directed her Oscar-nominated performance in the dark 1980 family drama Ordinary People.
Game on. Among 251 men surveyed by University College London researchers, video games were one of the most popular decompression methods, outranking watching porn and having sex. Gamers also exhibited more effective stress recovery and experienced less “negative work/home interference.” That tracks with a previous Texas A&M study finding that people who play violent video games aren’t as troubled by stress or depression. The London study’s 240 female participants were less likely to chill via gaming or sex — opting instead to de-stress with crafts or books.
We were born for this. Genetic testing is taking science marketing to surprising — and absurd — extremes. DNA sequencing has become cheap enough that one startup, Helix, has created an app store for genetic tests. In addition to discovering your ancestry and potential health risks, unregulated (and scientifically questionable) “lifestyle” apps can create personalized workout plans or sell wines tailored to your genetic predispositions. The next generation of apps is likely to go further (Which superhero are your genes most like?) until interpreting DNA becomes like taking online quizzes.
Is it stranger than fiction? Sales of novels like 1984, with visions of authoritarian regimes, have spiked since the inauguration. George Orwell’s 1949 classic, containing themes eerily similar to “alternative facts,” is currently Amazon’s bestselling book, while Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here has sold out for some retailers. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World of drug-numbed masses and Ray Bradbury’s anti-censorship Fahrenheit 451 have similarly surged. Totalitarian fiction probably won’t move the president, who doesn’t read much, but it’s inspiring a new generation of readers — and countless social media posts.
It’s a kinder, gentler battle. This season is seeing the rise of a new NHL, with more skilled young stars beefing up team rosters. Brutish defensemen and enforcers are being replaced by leaner, faster players who might never have made the league of old. Thanks to rule changes and the rise of hockey analytics, a speedier, cleaner pro game is replacing old-school brawling. As the first generation of young talent to grow up under this system comes of age, perennially hurting teams like Toronto are finding the shift agreeable.