The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Trump Calls Xi Jinping, Backs ‘One China’ Policy

    He’s reined it in. President Trump deeply unsettled Beijing in December when he took a call from Taiwan’s president — something no U.S. leader has done in decades — and then publicly questioned the fundamental principle of the “One China” policy that unites Taiwan and China. But on the eve of a visit from Japan’s prime minister, Trump had an “extremely cordial” phone call with President Xi affirming his commitment to the policy, establishing a foundation for further negotiations on trade and on military action in the South China Sea.

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    Le Pen Victory Could Put France in Default

    Franc-ly, this makes markets nervous. Ultranationalist presidential candidate Marine Le Pen says if elected, her Front National party would redenominate about 80 percent of France’s national debt, or $1.8 trillion, into a new national currency, the franc. While some analysts say this is possible, it risks collapsing the euro, as well as France’s credit rating, plunging the global financial system into chaos. Le Pen is currently forecast to finish second in April elections, but pollsters have been stymied by unexpected candidates and scandals in the lead-up to the vote.

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    California Farmers Fear Immigration Restrictions

    They voted for this. But while many rural Golden State residents wanted President Trump to win the election, some now say his immigration policies and trade threats could destroy their business model. Many California farms survive because of the labor of undocumented immigrants, and farmers are alarmed that their workers could be deported over minor crimes rather than serious offenses, arguing that the nation depends on California’s farms for food. Others are concerned about the potential destruction of trade agreements with Mexico, but are hopeful that Trump may relent if business suffers.

  4. Late-Night Votes, Ethics Violations and the PDB Quiz

    Know This: Georgia Republican Tom Price was confirmed as U.S. health secretary in a vote after 2 a.m. The Eiffel Tower is getting bulletproof glass walls around its base due to fears of terrorism. And White House aide Kellyanne Conway is under fire for violating ethics rules by telling a television audience, “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff.”

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

    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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    Blazing a Bipartisan Trail in the South

    Resistance isn’t futile. Though Republicans outnumber Democrats nearly 3-to-1 in the lower chamber of Tennessee’s state Legislature, liberal Rep. Raumesh Akbari has been praised for getting things done and winning respect across the aisle. With a background in providing legal counsel for her Iranian father and African-American mother’s business, Akbari has honed her ability to build bridges and find common ground. That’s a rarity as partisan divides grow deeper, and one that’s bearing fruit in the form of several solidly progressive bills being pushed through the House.

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    Ridesharing Controversies Reveal Ethical Dilemmas

    Did you #DeleteUber over its CEO’s Trump connection? Or pledge your allegiance in the face of the boycott? Either way, ridesharing going political has revealed some hard truths about the business. Uber boycotters discovered that Lyft also has financial ties to the White House, and Trump loyalists might have reservations about Uber’s reputation for mistreating drivers. The immense popularity of ridesharing has changed riders’ daily lives, so dropping the big names may not be easy. Competitors are often more expensive and less ubiquitous, which could leave commuters falling back on public transit.

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    Students Benefit From Learning Social Skills at School

    Forget reading, writing and arithmetic: There’s a crucial workplace skill American schools have overlooked. A recent study shows that as the labor market evolves, social skills have an increasingly large impact on employability. Since 1980, jobs based around human interactions — from baristas to call center workers — have increased faster than jobs involving repetitive tasks or basic cognitive skills. Research suggests that teaching emotional skills like mindfulness and stress management in the classroom can have significant long-term effects, such as higher employment, lower crime rates and increased earnings.

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    Aretha Franklin Announces Retirement, New Album

    The Queen of Soul is taking it easy. At 74, Franklin has announced that 2017 will be her last year touring. The iconic gospel and soul singer says she feels “enriched and satisfied” enough with her musical legacy — which includes a Presidential Medal of Freedom and countless music awards — to take a step away from the grind of active duty. But she also teased a new album this year, with Stevie Wonder set to produce several tracks, and promised that even in retirement she won’t “just sit down and do nothing.”

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    Knicks Rebuke Charles Oakley Following Arrest

    It’s not all rosy in the Garden. The New York Knicks have publicly denied Oakley’s version of events following the former star’s arrest and removal from Madison Square Garden Wednesday night. After his release, Oakley — charged with assault and trespass — maintained he was ejected unfairly, which provoked the nationally televised tussle. In response, the Knicks released a statement calling Oakley’s story “pure fiction,” insisting he was thrown out in response to his “abusive behavior.” Meanwhile, rumors abound over the animus between Oakley and Knicks owner James Dolan.