The Presidential Daily Brief


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    In China, Trump Blames US for Trade Deficit

    “It will be tremendous for both of us.” That’s how President Donald Trump described the future of U.S.-China trade, praising President Xi Jinping and blaming his own predecessors, rather than China, for America’s current trade deficit. “Who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the sake of its citizens?” Trump explained. He also emphasized that Xi would be pressuring North Korea to denuclearize. Meanwhile, Chinese dissidents say they’ve been placed under house arrest and surveillance during Trump’s visit to discourage protests.

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    After Nearly 7 Weeks, Puerto Ricans Still Await FEMA Aid

    Not everyone’s forgotten this spot in the Caribbean. FEMA’s required online forms are useless in much of Puerto Rico, without electricity since Hurricane Maria ravaged the island. While the storm’s official death toll stands at 55, many are questioning that count: 472 more people died there this September than last. Now FEMA’s preparing to fly thousands to the mainland. Meanwhile, Lin-Manuel Miranda says he’ll reprise the title role in Hamilton at the University of Puerto Rico in January to “send a bold message” about the island’s ability to recover.

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    Regulators Demand CNN Sale in Time Warner-AT&T Deal

    For some, less news is good news. An AT&T-Time Warner merger wasn’t expected to have any trouble with U.S. regulators, despite President Trump’s campaign vows to block it. Now, however, the proposed company has been ordered to sell one of two assets to have the deal approved: satellite broadcaster DirecTV or Turner Broadcasting, which includes presidential punching bag CNN. While the Justice Department says the decision wasn’t political, antitrust regulators — along with the two companies — appear be gearing up for a potential legal fight.

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    Britain Has Just Weeks to Forge Brexit Bill Deal

    Crunch time. The EU says British negotiators have at most three weeks to indicate how much they’ll pay to honor the U.K.’s budget commitments to Europe — the so-called “Brexit Bill.” Without that, the 27 EU countries say they may not have time to prepare a transition deal, considered key for businesses seeking stability amid Brexit-related uncertainty. Meanwhile, representatives of deeply pro-Brexit British fishing town Grimsby have reportedly petitioned London for a special free-trade status to let them continue enjoying EU privileges after 2019.

  5. Higher Education, Gender Alternatives and Rand Paul’s Big Fight

    Know This: According to the Paradise Papers, 12 major U.S. universities have been hiding their money offshore and investing it in fossil fuels. Germany’s high court says the country’s birth registry must allow a third gender option. And the motive behind a fight between Sen. Rand Paul and his neighbor, which left Paul with six broken ribs, is still unclear — with some sources pointing to a landscaping dispute and the neighbor denying claims that it was politically motivated.

    Remember This Number: 12 metric tons. That’s how much cocaine has been found buried across four banana plantations in Colombia, the largest seizure of drugs in a single police operation in the country’s history.

    Talk to Us: What book got you back to reading? Send the title and a paragraph on why it had that effect to


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    Comedian Louis C.K. Apologizes for Sexual Misconduct

    Now it’s on the record. After years of rumors, five women came forward claiming that the comedian, whose jokes have often centered on his sexual misfortunes, pressured them to watch or listen to him masturbate. Today, C.K. confirmed the allegations in a statement, expressing remorse for taking advantage of his status as a widely admired comic. The consequences have been swift: Yesterday’s New York premiere of his latest movie, I Love You, Daddy, was canceled, while HBO has cut C.K. from an upcoming special and is removing his past projects from its on-demand service.

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    Toxic Smog Blankets India’s Capital

    They need to clear the air. This week Delhi has been gripped by unusually thick smog that doctors estimate is equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes a day. While India’s no stranger to a haze of pollution, current cold weather and slow winds have combined with fumes from heavy industry, cars and other debris to make conditions much more hazardous than usual. Delhi officials have restricted traffic, closed a major power station, and even banned fireworks — but it hasn’t helped. Authorities are now closing schools and warning people to stay inside.

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    Three Billionaires Have More Money Than Bottom Half of US

    That’s rich. The three wealthiest people in America — Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett — own more than the whole bottom half of the U.S. population combined. According to a report by the Institute for Policy Studies, their aggregate fortune of $248.5 billion exceeds that of 160 million Americans combined — 63 million households. Wealth inequality is increasing, the report concludes, and it recommends that the GOP revise its current tax reform plans to close loopholes for the rich and help the poorest Americans instead.

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    Growing Number of Asian Countries Turn Toward Space

    That’s a lot of giant leaps. Once dominated by the U.S. and Russia, the space race has seen several Asian nations keeping pace in recent years, motivated by commercial, scientific and military gains. India, China and Japan are developing major interplanetary missions. Iran and North Korea are testing rockets as signals to regional and global rivals. And Vietnam is setting up a satellite monitoring station. With space program benefits that include developing electronics and manufacturing capabilities — plus national pride — the void is likely to get more crowded.

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    Ridley Scott Will Erase Kevin Spacey From Film

    It’s an exorcism. The director says Spacey will be cut from his already-completed All the Money in the World — and the movie’s been pulled, at Scott’s request, from the closing night slot of the AFI Festival. Spacey’s career is in freefall after actor Anthony Rapp alleged that the Oscar-winner made sexual advances on him when he was 14. Scott’s cast and crew unanimously agreed to immediately reshoot all of Spacey’s scenes with Christopher Plummer stepping into his role. The film is still set to hit theaters Dec. 22.

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    Cowboys Owner Threatens Legal Action Over Goodell’s Contract

    He wants a time out. Dallas owner Jerry Jones has threatened to sue the NFL and individual team owners if they extend commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract. Jones and Goodell have feuded over the league’s handling of anthem protests, and in August, Goodell suspended Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott over allegations of domestic abuse, something Jones called an “overcorrection.” Jones has hired high-profile lawyer David Boies — known most recently for defending Harvey Weinstein — although some observers note there aren’t any obvious grounds for a legal challenge.