The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Swedes Say Deadly Truck Crash Appears to Be Terror

    The evidence is mounting. The man arrested after killing four people by driving a truck into a crowd of people and into a luxury department store window in Stockholm is from Uzbekistan and was carrying explosives, Swedish media report. The attack in a busy shopping area Friday afternoon also injured 15 people, nine seriously. Authorities said they arrested the terror suspect 25 miles north of the city and are investigating others in the incident involving a carjacked Swedish beer truck. As the investigation continues, Prime Minster Stefan Lofven has tightened border security.

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    Trump Scores Gorsuch Supreme Court Confirmation

    Finally, a victory. After a historic Senate rules change to prohibit a filibuster, a largely partisan Republican 54-45 vote confirmed President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, restoring a conservative court majority. It happened Friday, on Trump’s 77th day in office, on the heels of a GOP failure to repeal Obamacare and a “rolling disaster” of court decisions, infighting and investigations into administration links to Russian election meddling. Gorsuch will be privately sworn in Monday, and his impact could be felt immediately on pending gun control and church-and-state cases.

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    US Launches First Direct Assault on Assad Forces in Syria

    He’s entered the fray. President Donald Trump ordered the launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base, killing six people, and called on other nations to join the U.S. in “seeking to end this slaughter.” Trump’s views on the six-year conflict shifted suddenly after President Bashar Assad’s forces deployed suspected chemical weapons on a rebel-held village on Tuesday. Russia condemned Trump’s strike as an “act of aggression,” while the White House maintained that military force was necessary to restrict the use of chemical weapons.

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    Devin Nunes Steps Aside in Russia Probe

    Somebody’s watching the watchman. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee has stepped aside, albeit temporarily, from a probe into suspected Russian meddling in the U.S. election after repeatedly refusing to recuse himself. The California congressman explained that he’s under investigation because multiple ethics complaints were filed against him — charges Nunes dismissed as politically motivated. Critics had been pressuring him to step aside after the former Trump campaign adviser shared classified information with the White House. GOP Rep. Mike Conaway will now fill Nunes’ role heading the Russia investigation.

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    Norwegian Fund Calls for Tax Transparency, CEO Pay Caps

    When they talk, people listen. At $910 billion, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund is the world’s largest — and it doesn’t often make recommendations. But now leader Yngve Slyngstad says there’s a “need for change,” and the fund will be pushing for companies to set CEO salary caps and phase out long-term executive incentive plans. It’s also announced plans to lead the charge against international tax havens, insisting that companies should pay taxes where they generate value, after Norway’s government tasked the fund with encouraging global vigilance and transparency.

  6. Legal Highs, Freedom of Speech and the PDB Quiz

    Know This: Uruguay, which has been a pioneer in marijuana legalization, will start selling the drug in pharmacies this summer. The U.S. government has demanded identifying information of an anti-Trump Twitter user, but the company is suing to keep the data private. And police are trying to identify a young girl found living with monkeys in an Indian forest.

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

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    Russia Bans Image of Putin in Lipstick

    What a drag. The Kremlin has banned an altered image circulating online of Vladimir Putin wearing garish makeup, which has been used to protest the Russian president’s 2013 law banning LGBT “propaganda.” It’s the 4,071st item added to a forbidden list of “extremist materials” — though there are many Photoshopped lipsticked-Putin images out there, so it’s not completely clear exactly which made the banned list. Social media users, of course, are gleefully sharing pictures of dolled-up Putin — especially after he expressed support this week for China’s censorship laws.

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    Norway Plans World’s First Full-Scale Ship Tunnel

    It’s a smashing idea. Norway has announced plans to bore through a mile of solid rock across its western Stad peninsula to create the world’s first sea tunnel for freight and passenger ships. The plan, estimated to take four years and cost as much as $315 million, involves blasting out a staggering 8 million tons of rock for the 100-foot wide tunnel. Norway’s transport minister said it would ensure everyone “safer and more reliable passage” to avoid stormy Stadhavet Sea waters, the most exposed and dangerous in the country.

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    How Diasporas Shape International Politics

    What do you call the city with the highest Maltese population in the world? Detroit. While the Michigan metropolis lies far away from the tiny Mediterranean island, it’s home to 44,000 Maltese expats, while the island’s largest city holds fewer than 23,000. Malta’s not alone: Politicians in France, Turkey, Mexico and other nations that allow expats to vote back home have taken to campaigning overseas. While the U.S. and the U.K. worry about too much immigration, for many small countries it’s emigration that threatens to drain the young, educated, working population.

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    Comic Legend Don Rickles Dies at 90

    He was comedy’s equal-opportunity offender. The legendary comedian, beloved for his rapid-fire and indiscriminate insults, passed away yesterday at his Los Angeles home at the age of 90. For over six decades Rickles, who was sarcastically nicknamed “Mr Warmth,” famously unleashed his acerbic tongue on any topic or person he could. Having realized his talent during his early stand-up while rebutting hecklers, Rickles honed both his skills and reputation through regular appearances on Dean Martin’s Celebrity Roasts. He is survived by his wife, daughter and grandchildren.

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    Tim Tebow Hits Homer in First Minor League At-Bat

    He’s in full swing. The South Carolina crowd went wild when the Heisman Trophy winner began his minor league baseball career with a two-run home run. Tebow struggled at spring training, but his first real test — playing for the Class A Columbia Fireflies against the Augusta GreenJackets — came at the bottom of the second inning: He knocked it out of the park. Though Tebow later struck out three times, his Fireflies won 14-7, which may quiet critics who think he should’ve stuck to football.