It’s a risky move. In a White House address, President Donald Trump announced today he’ll recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a provocative and largely symbolic move that reverses decades of U.S. policy. The decision will likely stoke tensions and even violence in the region, and Jordan’s King Abdullah II as well as King Salman of Saudi Arabia have already warned it would provoke Muslims and threaten any peace process. Meanwhile, Trump said the U.S. embassy, currently in Tel Aviv, will be moved to Jerusalem.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They’re out of control. Tens of thousands have been evacuated as at least five separate fires ravage Southern California, bolstered by dry conditions and strong Santa Ana winds. More than 150 buildings have been destroyed in the city of Ventura alone. Parts of the state have experienced record temperatures throughout summer and fall, and dozens died in October when fires swept through Northern California’s wine country. Forecasters say SoCal residents shouldn’t expect respite in the coming days, as dry, windy weather will put the region in extreme fire danger until Thursday.
Show them the money. Deutsche Bank has reportedly turned over account records for President Trump and some of his family members to the special investigation probing potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The bank has a long relationship with Trump, continuing to lend to him when his bankruptcies deterred other lenders in the 1990s. Experts say this development could mean Robert Mueller’s investigation has turned to the president’s personal financial dealings for evidence of collusion, such as fund transfers. White House lawyers have denied that any records were subpoenaed.
He’s on the lam. When police in Kiev arrived to arrest former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili — accused of colluding with a corrupt, pro-Kremlin tycoon — he fled to the roof of his building. But after officers managed to drag him into a van outside, a massive crowd of supporters prevented them from leaving. They eventually freed Saakashvili, who’s now calling for the peaceful removal of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Saakashvili has rejected demands by authorities to turn himself in, and this morning, his supporters blocked a second attempt to arrest him.
Know This: The Supreme Court is hearing arguments in the case of a baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding. Three people have been charged in Malta with the murder of a prominent anti-corruption blogger. And British media report that a terrorist plot to assassinate Prime Minister Theresa May has been foiled.
Remember This: “Men who hurt little girls should go to jail, not the U.S. Senate.” So said Doug Jones, the underdog Democratic candidate in Alabama’s Senate race, referring to the accusations of child molestation and sexual assault against his opponent. Roy Moore, endorsed by President Trump, says the allegations are a conspiracy involving “lesbians, gays, bisexuals and socialists.”
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It’s the cat’s meow. The blockchain network has seen traffic spike sharply since the Nov. 28 introduction of CryptoKitties, a game where users collect and breed digital pets that can only be bought with Ethereum’s cryptocurrency, Ether. Developers say the game was created to make blockchain technology more popular, and CryptoKitties has raked in $3.5 million, now accounting for 11 percent of Ethereum’s transactions. But as the feline frenzy slows the network and crowds out more serious transactions, non-kitty traders may instead pounce on Ether competitors like Bitcoin.
It’s a small wonder. For the seventh year running, the Green Mountain State has taken the top spot in the Opportunity Index, which measures economic mobility. That’s due in large part to Vermont’s low crime rate, strong startup culture and top-notch health care and universities — and boosted by its small population and size, which help with forming tight communities. But experts note that the state is still struggling to overcome its lack of diversity — Vermont is 93 percent white — and high cost of living.
They’re powering change. Jordan, which imports 98 percent of its energy, was struggling to accommodate its 1.3 million Syrian refugees until the United Nations stepped in with a bright idea: Solar power farms now provide electricity to two major camps, serving around 100,000 refugees. That’s helped store food, charge mobile phones and make other everyday activities accessible for the displaced and disconnected Syrians. Meanwhile, the push toward renewable energy in Jordan has freed up $7 million annually that the U.N. can now divert to other lifesaving services for Syrian refugees.
He had help. In an industry where many knew about allegations of sexual assault and harassment against Harvey Weinstein, a web of agents, journalists and sometimes unwitting workers continued to assist him, according to new reports. At least eight agents knew about the allegations yet continued to send actresses to his casting couch. Tabloid journalists killed stories. And a National Enquirer editor, himself now accused of sexual misconduct by a dozen employees, allegedly sent reporters to dig up dirt on accusers. Weinstein continues to deny all allegations of non-consensual sex.
They’re in the penalty box. The International Olympic Committee has barred Russia from the upcoming Winter Olympics in South Korea over its alleged state-sponsored doping program. Invited Russian athletes who can prove they’re clean will be allowed to compete in Pyeongchang, but only under the Olympic flag. Russia, which will also be fined $15 million, has strongly protested systemic doping claims. Now some worry team sports like hockey could be impacted if international players in the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League aren’t given time off to play for their own nations.