It’s good to go. The Supreme Court has ruled the latest version of President Donald Trump’s travel ban on citizens of six predominantly Muslim countries can go into effect. The ruling, which included two dissenting opinions, blocks most citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Chad — as well as Venezuela and North Korea — from traveling to the United States, even as the restriction remains challenged in lower courts. Meanwhile, appeals courts in San Francisco and Richmond, VA, are scheduled to hear arguments over the ban later this week.
The Presidential Daily Brief
”Go get ’em, Roy!” That’s what embattled Senate candidate Roy Moore claims President Trump told him during a call today offering his endorsement ahead of the Dec. 12 vote. Confirmed by the White House, it was joined by a morning tweet from Trump saying, “We need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama.” It’s his clearest show of support for the controversial Republican, who faces allegations that he sexually assaulted teenagers earlier in his career. Moore has denied the claims. The Republic National Committee, which initially halted their fundraising for Moore, has also resumed their support.
Are they barking up the wrong tweet? President Trump’s personal Twitter account announced Saturday he fired former adviser Michael Flynn in February “because he lied to the vice president and the FBI” — which some observers say could make a case for obstruction of justice. Former FBI Director James Comey has said that Trump urged him to be lenient with Flynn, though Trump denies it, and on Friday Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Trump’s lawyer said he wrote the tweet himself, and now claims “the president cannot obstruct justice.”
He needs a vote of confidence. A partial recount is underway in Honduras after tens of thousands joined protests over the weekend calling for the ouster of President Juan Orlando Hernandez. He narrowly won the presidential election a week ago against opposition leader Salvador Nasralla, whose supporters claim fraud. At least eight people have died since, in the worst political crisis the country has seen since the 2009 coup. Now opposition supporters are also boycotting the recount, saying the electoral commission’s decision to examine only 6 percent of ballots is unacceptable.
Nothing’s set in stone. Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, is tasked with leading U.S. efforts to restart peace accords in the Middle East. Yesterday he said Trump hasn’t yet decided on the fate of his campaign promise to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The controversial step, breaking with decades of U.S. policy, could derail expected demands in any two-state process. Jordan’s foreign minister immediately responded that there would be serious consequences, while Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas tried to rally world leaders against the move.
Well, someone agreed to a health care deal. CVS Health, which operates drugstores across the U.S., has agreed to buy health insurance giant Aetna for $69 billion. The deal could reshape a medical industry already in a state of flux over rapidly changing technology, uncertainty in Washington and new players like Amazon elbowing into pharmacies’ territory. CVS hopes its Aetna merger, plus new audiology, vision and nutrition services, will make it a one-stop shop for health care. But critics warn that consumers could find their choices curtailed.
Know This: Theresa May is meeting with EU officials to discuss post-Brexit trade agreements, though the issue of the Irish border might stall talks. Congressional Republicans are trying to avoid a government shutdown, with necessary funding set to expire at the end of this week. And the crew of a Cathay Pacific flight from the U.S. to Hong Kong said they saw the re-entry of North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test last week.
Remember This Number: 4,000. That’s the number of elderly people dying alone in Japan every week, according to one estimate. In the world’s most rapidly aging society, which has increasingly focused on careers, the older generation is being left behind.
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“Of course he said it.” So said Bush, the other voice on the infamous 2005 Access Hollywood tape in which President Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women. Though Trump apologized for the tape during the campaign, he’s recently questioned its authenticity. Bush was fired after the tape surfaced. He now explains in an editorial for The New York Times that while he originally thought of Trump’s words as a “crass stand-up act,” multiple sexual assault allegations against the president, which Bush says he believes, have made him rethink that.
Your bolivars are no good here. The value of Venezuela’s currency has taken a nosedive after an economic crisis, government mismanagement and the “financial blockade” of U.S. sanctions. To combat that slide, President Nicolas Maduro has announced plans for a new cryptocurrency, the “petro,” backed by commodities like oil and gold, as a way to skirt sanctions and “advance in monetary sovereignty.” The IMF predicts Venezuela’s annual inflation will exceed 2,300 percent in 2018 — and Bitcoin, which hit a high of $11,434 last week, is growing in popularity there.
It’s staying woke that’s the trick. Tests of subconscious prejudice, like the popular Implicit Association Test, have long been celebrated as a first step toward ridding individuals — and thus workplaces and society — of racist and sexist ideas. But according to a recent meta-study, reducing implicit bias often doesn’t change discriminatory behavior, and four other meta-studies showed the tests can’t accurately predict who will discriminate. Workplace training on implicit bias is still popular — and supporters argue that it at least raises awareness about the problem.
His career’s hitting a low note. Conductor and music director James Levine has been suspended by New York City’s Metropolitan Opera over multiple allegations of sexual abuse. The opera company has also brought in lawyers to investigate claims made by three men, who all say Levine used his power to sexually coerce them decades ago when they were teenagers. The Met’s general manager said similar accusations have been made against Levine before. The conductor’s upcoming performances, including a production of Tosca scheduled for New Year’s Eve, have been canceled.
The game just ain’t the same. Rugby, once just an upper-class pastime throughout the former British Empire, is attracting a whole new crowd. Refugees from Italy to Ivory Coast — and even foster kids in the U.S. — have famously used rugby to lift themselves out of poverty and strife, and new programs are cropping up to support young players from backgrounds that challenge the old elitism. The sport’s shifting demographics are fundamentally altering its international image, increasing its reach and allowing it to tap into far larger talent pools.