The Presidential Daily Brief


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    U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Says There Will be No Mass Deportations

    Return to sender. John Kelly, speaking in Guatemala, said that while there won’t be “mass roundups” from the U.S. under Trump’s news executive orders, those trying to cross at the border “will be returned to their country much quicker than has been the case for the last decade or so.” He also added that those caught attempting to enter the States illegally would be “treated fairly and humanely.” Yet Kelly emphatically discouraged Guatemalans from attempting to enter the U.S. by the “very, very dangerous” Mexican route. 


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    Trump Rescinds Transgender Bathroom Guidelines

    Are they just stalling for time? The Obama administration’s federal guidelines allowed transgender students in public schools to use the bathroom matching their gender identity. But President Donald Trump’s White House, saying such regulations are for states to decide, has now rescinded those policies. Activists are accusing the Trump administration of targeting transgender children, and are organizing protests over what they say is a civil rights issue. Meanwhile, both sides are watching the pending Supreme Court case of transgender boy Gavin Grimm, whose school is fighting to forbid him access to the men’s bathroom.

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    Syria Peace Talks to Restart in Geneva

    Don’t expect a breakthrough. After almost a year, U.N.-sponsored peace talks on Syria’s civil war resume today following a fairly well-observed cease-fire. Russian envoys have been asking world powers to contribute billions to rebuild the country, though Western states have indicated they would only do so if negotiations aim toward political transition, rather than keeping Moscow ally Bashar Assad in power indefinitely. Negotiators are cautioning not to expect a breakthrough, while some are wondering how President Trump’s new Syria plan, to be announced shortly, will affect dynamics.

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    Mexico Condemns New US Deportation Policy

    This could get awkward. Mexican authorities have called this week’s changes to U.S. immigration policy “unacceptable” — specifically a new rule that would deport immigrants found to have committed small infractions to Mexico, regardless of the person’s nationality. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in Mexico to discuss the new regulations today. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer described current relations between the U.S. and Mexico as “phenomenal,” even as Mexico says it will take its case to the U.N., if necessary, to defend its borders against “hostile” unilateral U.S. action.

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    Russia Launches Its Own War on ‘Fake News’

    “We will make an example of such propaganda.” So said Russia’s foreign ministry about the launch of its state-run “fake news” tracker, which discredits unfavorable Western stories with a large red stamp reading “FAKE.” The site has already flagged stories from sources including NBC, The New York Times and Bloomberg on subjects like suspicious deaths of Russian officials and potential Russian interference ahead of French elections. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu spoke yesterday of a new Russian military task force created specifically to wage a war of information.

  6. The Attack on Mosul, Labour’s Last Stand and More Protests in North Dakota

    Know This: Iraqi forces have retaken Mosul airport after a four-hour operation as they attempt to drive ISIS from the city. Britain’s holding two local elections today that may determine if ultranationalist UKIP can gain a post-Brexit political foothold, chipping away at the leftist Labour Party. And at least seven people have been killed in a bombing in Lahore, Pakistan.

    Read This: Hundreds of demonstrators remained at a North Dakota camp protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline when they were ordered to leave yesterday, leading to at least 10 arrests.

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    NASA Finds Solar System With Seven Earth-Sized Planets

    The truth really is out there. NASA revealed yesterday that it’s discovered seven rocky, Earth-sized planets orbiting dwarf star Trappist-1, just 39 light years away. Three are in the habitable zone and could contain liquid water. The fact that Trappist-1 is a dwarf star should also accelerate the search for life-sustaining exoplanets, because scientists have previously focused their search on stars roughly the size of our sun. Dimmer dwarf stars, less distracting to sensitive research instruments, will make it easier to study the planets themselves.

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    Is Another Tech IPO Boom Imminent?

    They’re hoping to be snapped up. Since 2012, tech startups have resisted going public, wary of unreceptive markets. Last year saw only 35 tech IPOs, down from 64 in 2014. But many analysts expect that to change when Snap Inc. debuts next month on the NYSE. With an estimated valuation of $22 billion, it could be the start of a 2017 IPO bonanza — or the exception to a boom in private acquisitions. Snap’s IPO may be a barometer for the industry, but unpredictability is the only certainty in the Trump era.

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    Bavaria Pushes Burqa Ban Ahead of Elections

    Bavaria’s lifting the veil. The southern German state is moving forward with a ban that would prohibit wearing the burqa or niqab in government offices, public buildings, schools and polling stations. With federal elections only seven months away, and Chancellor Angela Merkel herself calling for a ban on full-face veils “wherever legally possible,” Bavarian officials said the burqa is incompatible with Germany’s “culture of communication” and “Christian values.” While the anti-immigration AfD party is calling for a national ban, a government report found such a prohibition unconstitutional in 2012.

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    French Artist Entombed in Limestone

    He’s between a rock and a hard place. French artist Abraham Poincheval has begun a weeklong artistic experiment to be the “beating heart” of a 13-ton limestone boulder. In front of a crowd of journalists, Poincheval sat in a space carved to the shape of his body, as workmen pushed the two halves of the boulder together. Along with air holes, water, dried foods, heart monitors, and an emergency video link, the artist is now alone and totally encased until March 1. Poincheval previously spent two weeks inside a taxidermied bear.

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    Gymnastics Doctor Facing More Abuse Charges

    The accusations are piling up. Police say more than 80 people have come forward to accuse former Michigan State and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar of sexual assault. He’s been charged with 22 new counts of criminal sexual conduct with seven different victims, some of whom were under 13 at the time of the alleged crimes. Nassar’s case, along with allegations of an “environment of fear” at the elite gymnastics training ranch operated by Marta and Bela Karolyi, have reinvigorated efforts in drafting new legislation to make it easier to report abuse.