The Presidential Daily Brief


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    White House Sends Signals to North Korea, Iran

    Don’t even try it. That’s the message to Pyongyang from Defense Secretary James Mattis, who’s visiting Asia as the new administration reviews its policy on North Korea. He said any attack on U.S. allies Japan or South Korea would be met with an “effective and overwhelming” response. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump is expected to sanction around 25 Iranian companies, individuals and organizations suspected of aiding missile development — fulfilling campaign promises to be tough on Iran. Critics warn that such measures could violate the recent nuclear deal with Tehran.

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    Legal Battles Begin Over Immigration Ban

    This could drag on for years. After a lower court blocked President Donald Trump’s ban on refugees and travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, Justice Department lawyers asked the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court for an emergency reversal. They were swiftly rejected this weekend. Trump took to Twitter, writing: “Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!” Federal agencies have stopped enforcing the order, while Justice Department lawyers prepare to file a brief on the case today.

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    French Soldier Shoots Machete-Wielding Man at Louvre

    Since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January 2015, soldiers have patrolled France’s landmarks — and today, a man reportedly armed with a machete and shouting “Allahu Akbar” attacked and wounded a soldier in the shopping center below the Louvre. Another soldier fired five times at the assailant, seriously wounding him. Police say there’s no threat — the attacker was carrying bags, but they didn’t contain explosives — but the Paris museum, which has seen visitor numbers fall 15 percent after recent attacks depressed tourism, has been temporarily closed.

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    In Major Reversal, Trump Warns Israel Against Settlements

    Unpredictable is an understatement. The White House yesterday said new Israeli settlements “may not be helpful” in achieving Middle East peace. But just two months ago, Trump lambasted then-President Obama for not blocking a U.N. rebuke of Israel over the construction. The shift indicates that Trump is giving himself breathing room to negotiate a peace deal, while hewing closer to Obama’s foreign policy than his campaign rhetoric suggested. Still, the president’s erratic behavior toward allies such as Australia is leading other U.S. officials to play global damage control.

  5. Snapchat

    Snap Says Its Social Platform May Never Be Profitable

    Will those shares disappear in seconds? Snap Inc., the company behind Snapchat, has filed for a $3 billion IPO under the NYSE handle SNAP. With an estimated 158 million daily users, the social media platform is expected to hit the stock market valued above $20 billion. But in its filing documents, Snap admits it’s been hit by major losses, its user growth is flat, and it “may never achieve or maintain profitability.” Nevertheless, the app’s withstood Instagram’s attempts to kill it and it’s still snapping.

  6. The Private Sector, ‘Alternative Facts,’ a Wounded Tiger and the PDB Quiz

    Know This: Billionaire Vincent Viola withdrew as Donald Trump’s nominee for Army secretary, because of difficulties unwinding his business interests. On MSNBC, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway complained that the media hadn’t covered the story of Iraqi refugees planning “the Bowling Green massacre,” even though no such massacre ever occurred. Radiation levels in Fukushima, Japan, are at their highest levels since an earthquake caused a meltdown six years ago. And Tiger Woods has pulled out of the Dubai Desert Classic due to back problems.

    Try This: Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB quiz.

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    One State Drills, Another Gets Fracked Over

    It’s not very neighborly. States where fracking is booming often ship the resulting contaminated waste to less-regulated neighboring states, and companies are raking in billions for taking on radioactive material. One small Kentucky community is scrambling to figure out what long-term effects the toxic chemicals could have, with a school and a water table nearby. Kentucky is now pursuing civil penalties against eight companies from Ohio, West Virginia and Arizona for illegal dumping — but some locals think the $8.2 million in fines won’t make up for the risks.

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    Uber CEO Quits Trump Advisory Council After Boycott

    It was hurting the bottom line. The hashtag #DeleteUber exploded on social media over the company’s perceived support of the White House and its immigration ban. Now CEO Travis Kalanick has told employees in a memo that he’ll no longer be serving on President Trump’s business advisory board, saying his involvement wasn’t meant as an endorsement. Kalanick said he met with the president Thursday to discuss his opposition to the immigration ban. Meanwhile, some are speculating that other members of the council, including SpaceX’s Elon Musk, may also quit.

  3. Cannabis

    Marijuana Could Help End the Opioid Epidemic

    Take two brownies and call in the morning. Opioids, America’s go-to for chronic pain, are highly addictive and caused more than 30,000 deaths in 2015. While marijuana has also been shown to help chronic pain, some doctors are now prescribing it for acute pain, like that from broken bones, and seeing good results. Though it’s tough to study marijuana — it’s still a Schedule I substance — clinical trials are testing if it can also reduce heroin cravings, spurred by evidence that states with legalized weed see opioid use drop.

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    Immigration-Themed Super Bowl Ads Already Drawing Flak

    Talk about pregame buzz. Fox rejected 84 Lumber’s first advertisement as too political — it showed a border wall — so the company will air a re-cut spot about a mother and daughter journeying across what resembles the Mexican border. Budweiser drew a conservative boycott threat after it released its own Super Bowl ad about company founder Adolphus Busch emigrating from Germany to America. The extra attention could give the companies more bang for their buck, at an estimated $5 million for a 30-second spot this year.

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    Magic Johnson Returns to Advise the Lakers

    Showtime is back. The all-time great point guard will be an adviser to co-owner and president Jeanie Buss, a role he says could even include working out players on the court. While young players like D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram are showing promise, Johnson has been publicly critical of the direction of the once-mighty franchise — now struggling at 17-35 — particularly personnel boss Jim Buss, Jeanie’s brother. While they showed some fight last night with a big comeback, Los Angeles fell to surging Washington 116-108.