It’s now or never. Donald Trump is pushing forward with Trumpcare today, posing an ultimatum for reluctant House Republicans to vote or be “stuck with Obamacare.” In a press conference this afternoon, Sean Spicer said POTUS and his team have lobbied “every member” who had concerns about the bill, but it’s now down to the House to decide. With a bloc of conservatives and moderate-leaning Republicans bailing on the legislation, it’s being reported that the bill is still short of support ahead of today’s vote, and that Paul Ryan is briefing the President as such.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They went straight to the top. The Keystone XL oil pipeline has received a presidential permit, a reversal from the Obama administration’s 2015 rejection of the project — and one that means TransCanada Corp can end the legal battle it was fighting to restart the pipeline. It’ll still have to obtain permits in at least three states for the planned crossborder, 1,179-mile pipeline, which has pitted environmental activists against not just the oil company, but against those who hope the project will create construction jobs.
They’ve named names. Authorities have identified the man who killed four people, including a policeman, in an attack on London’s Houses of Parliament. Khalid Masood, 52, was born Adrian Russell Ajao in Kent and was known to police — though he wasn’t on their radar as a potential threat. Nine people have since been arrested in London and Birmingham in connection with the attack, and police are still searching houses. Last night, Londoners gathered in Trafalgar Square for a candlelit vigil, where Home Secretary Amber Rudd declared, “The terrorists will not defeat us.”
He promised “extreme vetting.” Now diplomatic cables suggest the Trump administration is going a different route after both of its travel bans affecting Muslim-majority countries were blocked by the courts. Though citizens of 38 countries with visa-waiver programs are exempt, business travelers and tourists from other nations will now undergo more intense questioning and mandatory social media checks before being granted U.S. visas. Embassy officials appear to have leeway on identifying “populations warranting increased scrutiny” and implementing the screening, but experts say it’ll likely lead to fewer visas being granted.
Where’s the beef? Not in the EU, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Japan, Canada or China. They’ve all banned imports from at least some of Brazil’s main beef suppliers, who’ve been caught in a corruption scandal over expired meat being disguised with chemicals or mixed with fresh meat. The world’s largest meat and poultry exporter saw their revenue abroad fall from $60.5 million on Monday to just $74,000 on Tuesday. U.S. producers are hoping to snap up some of Brazil’s business, but China’s pork producers are also hoping to take a big bite.
Know This: An Israeli-American teenager has been arrested under suspicion of making bomb threats against Jewish community centers. Taiwan’s high court is hearing a landmark case on same-sex marriage. And hundreds of migrants are feared drowned in the Mediterranean after two dinghies were discovered by rescuers.
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Your (online) life is not your own. Senate Republicans voted to strike down privacy regulations governing internet service providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T. Without the rules, which opponents call bureaucratic overreach, such companies would no longer be required to ensure greater privacy protections for their customers than those offered by Google or Facebook. They’re also free to sell customers’ browsing histories to advertisers and marketers without clear opt-in provisions. The vote will now need to clear the GOP-controlled House before the Obama-era rules are officially eliminated.
They’re looking on the sunny side. Glasgow University researchers have incorporated hyper-flexible graphene into prosthetic skin, creating artificial epidermis that’s more sensitive to touch than biological human skin — and bonus, it powers itself with built-in solar cells. Prosthetic limbs with tactile feedback wouldn’t just improve the lives of amputees, but could also change robotics, offering more flexibility in robots’ interactions with humans. Prosthetics have already been revolutionized by 3-D printing, and researchers say in 20 years new advances will “make today’s limbs look prehistoric.”
It was groundbreaking. Scientists studying the November 2016 magnitude-7.8 Kaikoura earthquake — which was so massive it shifted New Zealand’s Southern Island 16 feet north — say it’s the most complicated ever recorded. At least 12 fault lines ruptured, with the quake jumping as much as 9 miles between them — three times the gap previously assumed to prevent jumps. Scientists say the new data suggests that current hazard models need to be completely overhauled, including for the Big One in California. One U.S. seismologist described it as “a wake-up call.”
He’s gone, but not forgotten. The killing of the unarmed Black 17-year-old in 2012 sparked a national conversation about race — and widespread protests when George Zimmerman was acquitted, claiming he killed the high school student in self-defense. Now Jay-Z and the Weinstein Company have won the rights to two books about Martin’s life and death, one written by his parents and the other an account of Zimmerman’s trial. They’ll become a six-part documentary series and a narrative film on the teenager’s impact on America.
The Cinderella story continues. The No. 11 Xavier Musketeers staged an awe-inspiring comeback to send No. 2 Arizona crashing out of the NCAA Sweet 16s with a dramatic 73-71 upset. The unlikely victory hinged on scoring nine unanswered points in the final three minutes — following a 0-12 run the other way — and a last-second miss on an Arizona three-pointer. Advancing to the Elite Eight, Xavier hopes lightning can strike twice as they face off against tournament favorite and No. 1 seed Gonzaga on Saturday.