The Presidential Daily Brief


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    GOP Tax Overhaul Hinges on Rubio

    Not so fast. Citing limits on a child tax credit, the Florida senator said he opposed the $1.5 trillion tax package GOP leaders crafted Wednesday. It appeared to be a major setback after Senate Republicans passed their bill by just one vote — but on Friday, they expanded the credit in their final version, and Rubio signaled he’d back it. Amid criticism for rushing the overhaul and favoring corporate interests over lower-income Americans’ needs, Republican congressional leaders still hope to deliver the legislation to the president before Christmas.

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    California Wildfire Claims Firefighter as Winds Return

    It’s not getting easier. After two days of calmer winds enabled 35 percent containment of the 249,500-acre Thomas blaze, firefighter Cory Iverson was killed battling the wildfire northwest of Los Angeles. A resurgence of gusty, dry winds will likely make conditions more difficult for Iverson’s 8,300 colleagues, who have been warned of heightened danger in seemingly safer situations, like cutting burned trees or traversing rubble. The Thomas fire, the fourth-largest in California history, has been burning since Dec. 4 and authorities don’t expect it to be fully contained until Jan. 7.

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    FCC Reverses Net Neutrality Rules

    Some websites are more equal than others. By a margin of 3-2, the Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines Thursday to undo Obama-era regulations preventing internet providers from playing favorites with content. The rollback is a big win for telecom companies, which can now restrict access to websites while selling preferential bandwidth allocations, and a serious blow to internet firms like Google and Facebook. Republicans argue that deregulation will give consumers more options, while Democrats hope the issue could inspire millennials to vote. Meanwhile, legal battles promise to delay implementation.

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    Australian Inquiry Finds Rampant Child Sexual Abuse

    No place was safe. Tens of thousands of children were sexually abused, mostly by clergy and teachers, according to an Australian government investigation of schools, churches and religious institutions going back decades. “Society’s major institutions have seriously failed,” says today’s final report of the five-year inquiry, which Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said revealed “a national tragedy.” The report includes more than 400 recommendations, including ending celibacy obligations for Catholic priests, compelling them to report sexual assault confessions and preventative training to help children avoid abuse.

  5. Brexit Progress, Russian Election and the PDB Quiz

    Know This: Today British Prime Minister Theresa May meets with EU leaders, who are expected to agree to begin talks on the U.K.’s relationship with the bloc after Brexit. Russia’s Parliament has set March 18 as the date for the country’s presidential election, which Vladimir Putin is widely expected to win. And the main charge against the man accused of ramming a car into a crowd protesting a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August has been upgraded to first-degree murder.

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

    Talk to Us: Tell us how you really feel. Our electrifying TV show, Third Rail With OZY, is shelving the PC and whipping up debates. Each week we’re posting a provocative question, and we want you to weigh in. This week: Should private education be banned? Why or why not? Email with your thoughts, and we might feature your answer next week.


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    More Allegations Surface Against Dustin Hoffman

    It’s déjà vu. A new Variety report details sexual assault and misconduct allegations against the veteran actor, with one accuser asserting she was 16 when Hoffman exposed himself to her in a hotel room in 1980. Another two described being sexually assaulted by Hoffman a few years later, when he was filming Ishtar. They join three other women who had already come forward with allegations. Confronted recently at a public event by comedian John Oliver, the Oscar winner denied the original allegations, and his lawyer has called the new claims “defamatory falsehoods.”

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    Disney + Fox = Streaming Revolution

    Keep watching. The Walt Disney Company’s $52.4 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox promises to reshape the world of entertainment — and streaming will be the epicenter of that tectonic shift. When Disney launches its streaming service in 2019, it can combine its own content with Fox’s formidable collection of film and TV productions, creating a massive new force — especially if, as Disney’s promised, its subscription costs will undercut Netflix. Some say the move could prove that content creators can thrive without aggregators, spelling potential trouble for Netflix and Amazon.

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    Dublin Rescinds Aung San Suu Kyi’s Award

    She’s no saint. Thanks to her equivocal response to violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar that many are calling ethnic cleansing, leaders in the Irish capital have voted to strip Suu Kyi of her Freedom of Dublin City award. Previous recipients include Nelson Mandela and since-canonized Mother Theresa. Suu Kyi received the honor in 1999 for promoting Burmese democracy. Today she’s under increasing pressure for failing to condemn her army’s “clearing operations” that human rights advocates believe have killed thousands and spurred more than 646,000 Rohingya to flee.

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    No Signs Interstellar Object Is a Spaceship — So Far

    Alien vessel, respond. Though scientists have found nothing unusual in initial data from Oumuamua, the first known interstellar object to enter our solar system, the search isn’t over yet. At the urging of Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, whose $100 million investment is funding SETI’s search for alien life, researchers continue to pore over data from their telescopes. But the object, named “messenger” in Hawaiian, is traveling away from Earth at 85,675 mph, so time is running out to scan for radio signals or other indications of alien technology.

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    Lakers Get an Audience With The King

    Was it an audition? LeBron James becomes a free agent after this season, and there’s buzz that he’ll join hot rookie Lonzo Ball in Los Angeles. If the Lakers saw their 121-112 loss in Cleveland last night as a scouting trip, James did not disappoint: His 25 points, 12 assists and 12 rebounds tied him with Celtics legend Larry Bird at sixth on the all-time triple-double list. Luring James to California might be a long shot, but L.A. needs star power, and none shine brighter than The King.