The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Supporters of the Affordable Care Act gather in front of the U.S Supreme Court during a rally March 4, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case of King v. Burwell that could determine the fate of health ca

    The Trump Administration Announces Proposed Changes To The Affordable Care Act

    Years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced their proposal for reforms to the ACA, with the aim of “stabilizing the individual and small group health insurance markets.” The proposed changes include cutting 2018’s time period for open enrolment in half, and lowering the minimum standard of care required for insurers to qualify at one of the levels of coverage offered under the program. It’s a massive departure from the Obama-era goal of investing in growth by encouraging enrollment. 

  2. Member flags fly outside NATO Headquarters in Brussels ahead of today's extraordinary meeting to discuss Islamist terrorist attacks and Turkish security. Source: Getty

    Directive From the Pentagon’s Chief: NATO Members Must Increase Defence Spending

    Uncompromising is the new diplomatic. Pentagon Chief, Jim Mattis, has given a direct ultimatum to NATO members: start spending more on defence this year, or the Trump administration will “moderate its commitment” to them. Mattis, echoing Trump’s own demands, asserted that NATO needs to create a plan to set milestone dates for member governments to reach spending goals. Defense spending, according to the demands, should be as high as 2 percent of gross domestic product. “No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defence of Western values,” he said. 



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    Trump Asks Netanyahu to ”Hold Back a Little” on Settlements

    War and peace indeed. Meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister today, the U.S. President promised that “great” peace would be brokered between Israel and Palestine. He also implored Mr Netanyahu to “hold back on settlements for a little bit”, despite also voicing an isolationist policy. Trump suggested that Israel and the Palestinians should broker peace amongst themselves, so it remains unclear what America’s role will be in any future negotiations.

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    Andrew Puzder Withdraws From Consideration for Labor Secretary

    He knew he was beaten. Fast-food executive Andrew Puzder announced yesterday he won’t be battling out the nomination for Labor Secretary, but said he was “honored” to be considered. Though conservatives had pushed through several cabinet confirmations despite huge protests from Democrats, support for Puzder has waned even among the GOP as allegations of spousal abuse and employing an undocumented housekeeper resurfaced. Now the Senate will turn to Scott Pruitt’s nomination for EPA chief — and expected confirmation, even if he’s lost the support of at least one GOP senator.

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    The Defense Department is Considering a Recommendation That Would Send Ground Troops to Syria

    Too little too late. The Pentagon might be giving a recommendation to send ground forces into Syria for the first time. The move would be intended to speed up the battle against ISIS, and one defence official told CNN, “It’s possible that you may see conventional forces hit the ground in Syria for some period of time,” emphasising that the decision would be up to President Trump. Trump had previously asked the Defence Secretary for a proposal on how to deal with ISIS. Now the world waits to see what Trump’s response will be. 


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    White House Grapples With New Russian Contact Reports

    It’s a tangled web. The trouble may not end with security adviser Michael Flynn’s Monday resignation over his secret Russian contacts. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the president’s men hadn’t contacted Russian officials during the campaign, but phone records intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies reportedly show that campaign officials were in touch with senior Russian intelligence personnel, though there’s no evidence they cooperated in election-related Russian hacking. Now there’s a growing bipartisan call for more investigation into President Trump’s Russia connections, though some senior Republicans are still hedging.

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    US Sources: Kim Jong Un’s Half Brother Apparently Assassinated

    You can’t go home again. A second woman has been arrested in connection with the killing of Kim Jong Nam, 45, the older brother of North Korea’s current leader. Nam, who’d spoken disapprovingly of his brother’s regime and spent much of his time outside North Korea, was reportedly poisoned at Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur airport yesterday while traveling under an assumed name. U.S. and South Korean government sources say North Korea’s likely behind it, perhaps even Kim Jong Un himself — which could help him consolidate power despite straining relations with Malaysia. 

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    Trump Administration Drops Insistence on Two-State Solution

    “Peace is the goal.” So said a senior administration official, who leaked that the White House supports solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that don’t include the two-state endgame, even though it’s backed by most international bodies and decades of U.S. foreign policy. Israel’s government declined to comment on the reported change, as President Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are holding their first official talks later today. They’re expected to discuss the peace process, and illegal settlements — which Trump unexpectedly spoke out against recently.

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    India Launches Record 104 Satellites Into Orbit

    They’re reaching for the stars. This latest launch is the largest single mission in history by nearly threefold, easily overtaking Russia’s 2014 launch of 37 satellites. Once in space, they’ll perform experiments, monitor piracy around the world and map the globe itself. Most of the satellites are American, and only three originated in India, but the high-profile launch from Sriharikota space center is a calculated move for India’s growing space program: As the market for launching small satellites grows, India’s placed itself at the forefront of the low-cost market.

  10. Immigration Crackdown, Kellyanne’s Fate and Phones on a Plane

    Know This: For the first time, a U.S. immigrant covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has been taken into immigration detention, and lawyers say he was pressured to admit false gang affiliation. Russia reportedly deployed a cruise missile, violating an arms treaty with the U.S. And the Office of Government Ethics is calling for disciplinary action against top Trump aide Kellyanne Conway, but her punishment is ultimately up to the president.

    Remember This Number: 8,000. That’s how many people weighed in when the Department of Transportation asked if cell phone calls should be allowed on airplanes, and the people have spoken: No way, never. If the DoT doesn’t ban it outright, airlines will get to decide for themselves — and may choose the most lucrative option.

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    German Shepherd Wins Westminster Dog Show

    It was her day. Five-year-old Rumor (whose full name is Lockenhaus’ Rumor Has It V Kenlyn) achieved the highest honor of the show dog world yesterday, coming out of retirement to defeat nearly 3,000 dogs and snag Best in Show. The Westminster Dog Show is the second-oldest U.S. sporting event after the Kentucky Derby, and this year included cats for the first time. Rumor’s the second German shepherd to win it all — the last was in 1987 — and her owner says she’ll now retire and “puppies are in her future.”

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    Supplying the Niche in Latin America

    In this business, it is personal. In Latin America, a “one-size-fits-all” attitude has long dominated the market, leaving those who need bigger clothes, wheelchair access or gluten-free breakfast out of luck. Now, new products are beginning to change the old supply-demand models: Sales of products designed for specialty diets rose 78 percent between 2010 and 2015, bucking trends in otherwise stagnating economies. Left-handed stationery stores, wheelchair-friendly transport and plus-size fashion outlets are all finding their place with consumers.

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    Readers Report Hearing Voices After Closing Books

    They’re no strangers to fiction. A Durham University survey of more than 1,500 readers found that one in seven heard fictional characters’ voices as if they were present, and 19 percent of 413 more intensely surveyed subjects said characters “stayed” with them after the book was finished — speaking directly to them, narrating their world or influencing the way they responded to real-life events in what researchers dubbed “experiential crossing.” Such vivid sensory effects show that compelling reading, far from being a passive activity, can provide a life-changing experience.

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    ‘Hot Mugshot Guy’ Ex-Con Walks NYFW Runway

    It’s a Cinderella story for the digital age. Jeremy Meeks became famous when his 2014 Stockton, Calif., arrest mugshot gave birth to a meme called “Hot Mugshot Guy.” Now he’s gone from perp walk to catwalk as a Philipp Plein model for New York Fashion Week. The felon was such sizzling property that he signed his modelling contract with White Cross Management from behind bars. Meeks was released from prison last March after doing two years for illegal firearms possession, so he’s now free to capture hearts from Manhattan to Milan.

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    Bolt Strikes Again at Sporting Ceremony

    He stole the show. Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt scored his fourth Laureus Sportsman of the Year award last night, tying Roger Federer’s record. American Simone Biles won Sportswoman of the Year after her inspired Olympic gymnastics debut won her four gold medals, while the Chicago Cubs won Team of the Year following their first World Series win in 108 years. Bolt, who was recently stripped of one of his 2008 Olympic golds after a teammate’s stored sample tested positive for doping, says he’ll retire in August after competing in the IAAF World Championships in London.