The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Sessions Speaks Out About Illegal Immigration

    Party lines prevailed. The Senate officially approved Attorney General Jeff Sessions 52-47 yesterday, with just one Democrat jumping the aisle as concerns persist about the former Alabama senator’s record on civil rights. As he was sworn in, Sessions said today that illegal immigration must end, calling it a threat to public safety that weighs down American wages. Social media erupted with the hashtag #ShePersisted after Sen. Elizabeth Warren was formally silenced during the debate over Sessions earlier this week, leading some to speculate about her 2020 prospects. Meanwhile, Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch confirmed he’d called President Donald Trump’s tweets attacking judges who opposed his immigration ban “disheartening and demoralizing,” which could endear him to Democrats — and enrage the president.

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    Tech Sector Fears Visa Changes as Court Battle Rages

    This could be a long fight. Yesterday, a federal appeals court heard arguments from the Trump administration, which is seeking reinstatement of its travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries. A ruling’s expected this week in the case, which has the tech industry on edge as it fears upcoming regulations on H1-B skilled worker visas or potential bans on other countries. More than half of America’s private companies worth over $1 billion were immigrant-founded. Whatever the ruling, the case is expected to reach the Supreme Court.

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    Controversial Dakota Access Pipeline Approved

    City Hall won this one. Following President Donald Trump’s order to expedite the Dakota Access Pipeline’s construction, the U.S. Army confirmed yesterday that it will grant the last permit needed to complete the project. The Standing Rock Sioux and environmental activists have protested the $3.8 billion pipeline for months, winning wider support in the fall after clashes with law enforcement turned violent. With the last phase of the 1,170-mile pipeline almost ready, some estimate it could be operational as early as June. The Standing Rock tribe has vowed to contest the decision.

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    Colombia Begins Peace Talks With ELN Rebel Group

    He’s earning that Peace Prize. President Juan Manuel Santos, who received the Nobel last year for his work on mending fences with FARC rebels after five decades of bloody conflict, is moving on to Colombia’s second-largest rebel force: the National Liberation Army, or ELN. After five failed attempts at peace, talks have finally begun on neutral ground in Ecuador. They may end with the guerrillas converted into a political party in exchange for abandoning violent tactics, in an agreement similar to the deal struck with FARC.

  5. Tara Palmer-Tomkinson Dies, Somalia Votes, Melania Sues, Qatar Spends

    Know This: Former British ‘It Girl’ Tara Palmer-Tomkinson found dead at age 45. Mogadishu’s on lockdown, with traffic banned as Somalis vote in the first round of presidential elections today. Britain’s House of Commons will formally vote to authorize Brexit today, but the bill must still pass the House of Lords. And Melania Trump is reportedly suing the Daily Mail for $150 million for preventing her from building “multi-million dollar business relationships” as first lady, which has ethics watchdogs concerned.

    Remember This Number: $500 million per week. That’s how much Qatar is spending on projects related to the 2022 World Cup — and that pace could continue until 2021, according to the country’s finance minister.

    Pitch This: There’s an Academy Award for Best Picture, but there’s an OZY award for Best Pitcher. Pitch us your ideas for our upcoming Oscars edition and they might be featured in the Daily Dose. Almost anything goes: Forgotten tales from Oscars past, fascinating stats that have been overlooked — even an up-and-coming sound editor who’s shaping the way we experience film. Send your tips to


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    Sickle Cell Gene Skews Diabetes Blood Test

    One size doesn’t fit all. Doctors often use AC1 tests, which provide a three-month average of a patient’s blood sugar, to diagnose and manage diabetes. But a new report warns that the test can be wildly inaccurate for those carrying the sickle cell trait — which 8 to 10 percent of Black patients do. After correcting for bias, the number of sickle cell trait carriers diagnosed with diabetes nearly doubled. That margin of error doesn’t just affect individual treatment, but calls attention to diversity concerns in medical research.

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    New Chip Miniaturizes Scanning Technology

    It scans — and delivers. Researchers at University of California Irvine have created a tiny chip that’s being heralded as a breakthrough in millimeter-wave radiation. Though the technology — which has been used in “pain rays” in the past — is already widely used in airport body-scanner machines, this smaller, more accurate version could theoretically allow a doctor to wave a hand-held scanner over your body and immediately transmit detailed, high-res images of your organs and tissue. The researchers will present their findings at a conference this week.

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    Teenage Settlers Are Driving Israel to the Right

    Some are too young to vote, but they’re still making their voices heard. Recent debates over West Bank settlements have provoked widespread anger among young Israeli settlers, many of whom had lived in the 22-year-old settlement of Amona — recently evacuated after being declared unlawful — their whole lives. They’ve embraced hardline views about what constitutes a homeland, sometimes resorting to violence and pledging to “make Israel great again.” And their push to the right reflects Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent drive toward approving new settlements despite international criticism.

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    Civil Rights Stories Illuminate the Silver Screen

    And … action! Documentaries Whose Streets? and The Force brought the fiery debates surrounding police brutality and Black Lives Matter to this year’s Sundance Film Festival, signaling that civil rights stories are again taking center stage in Hollywood. A record six Black actors earned 2017 Academy Awards nods — a sharp 180 from last year, when #OscarsSoWhite lambasted industry racism — while Hidden Figures has emerged as a blockbuster, taking in $100 million domestically. Though neither Sundance documentary was picked up, The Force landed the festival’s U.S. documentary directing award.

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    Two Patriots Players Won’t Visit White House

    They don’t feel welcome. Cornerback Devin McCourty and tight end Martellus Bennett, both Black, have said they won’t take part in the traditional post-Super Bowl presidential photo op after their team’s comeback triumph in last weekend’s game. “I don’t feel accepted,” McCourty explained. Pats quarterback Tom Brady, coach Bill Belichick and owner Bob Kraft are known to be friends with President Trump. But Bennett and McCourty won’t be the first NFL players to sit out presidential honors: Brady himself once skipped a trip to the Obama White House.