The finish line’s in sight. Just after midnight, the U.S. Senate followed the House in passing a landmark bill radically changing the tax code, slashing the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent and adding an estimated $1 trillion to the deficit. Senate parliamentary snags forced the House of Representatives to hold a second vote today to approve final tweaks — and now it’s headed to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature. The cuts, which Republicans plan to tout as a major achievement going into 2018 elections, will take effect next month.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They wanted to send a message. For the second time in as many months, Houthi fighters targeted the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh with a ballistic missile. The rebel group, which controls large areas of Yemen including its capital, Sanaa, said they were targeting King Salman’s palace to commemorate 1,000 days since a Saudi-led coalition began bombing their group. The missile was intercepted by air defenses and caused no casualties, Saudi officials said. Meanwhile, American ambassador Nikki Haley is pressing for a UN response targeting Iran, which she claims supplied the Houthis’ ballistic ordnance.
Call it a warning shot. The EU has taken the unprecedented step of initiating an injunction against Poland for violating the bloc’s commitment to the rule of law. Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party has recently been pushing judicial reforms, which its members say promote efficiency and democratization, allowing government officials to limit judicial independence. The bloc is expected to vote next year on invoking Article 7, stripping Poland of voting rights and billions of euros in financial aid — if 80 percent of member states agree.
He failed his flock. Cardinal Bernard Law served as archbishop of Boston for 18 years until, in 2002, a massive scandal over pedophile priests — and covering up their crimes — forced his resignation. Law apologized and blamed problematic psychiatric evaluations, but after it became clear that he’d protected offenders, the faithful, and even priests, turned against him. Law, who faced no criminal charges, took a post in Rome until 2011, while the scandal spread around the world, prompting historic soul-searching at the Vatican over how to police its own.
Know This: Uber has been ruled a transport company by the EU, meaning it must abide by regulatory conditions set for the industry there. A 17-year-old Palestinian girl and her mother have been arrested by Israeli forces after a video of the teen slapping a soldier went viral on social media. And a new species of glow-in-the-dark shark has been discovered in Hawaii.
Remember This Number: One vote. That’s what decided a race for the Virginia House of Delegates, which Democratic candidate Shelly Simonds has won 11,608 to 11,607. The result creates a 50-50 split in the state house for the first time in its history.
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It’s not so secure these days. Britain’s struggling to settle uncertainties thought to be driving businesses away in the lead-up to Brexit. But its hurried negotiation of a transitional deal with Europe may have hit a 2.6-square-mile snag: Gibraltar. A British territory since 1713, “The Rock” has also been claimed by Spain since then. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says London and Madrid will have to conduct separate talks over the Mediterranean icon of Britain’s fading global influence, endangering U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans for a transition deal by March.
You have nothing to lose but your crops. Soviet-era “barefoot scientist” Trofim Lysenko helped precipitate famines that killed 7 million by insisting that plants could be trained and genetics were a pseudo-science. But he’s enjoying new popularity among Russia’s right and left fringes. Soviet nostalgia, as well as the trendy field of epigenetics — which recognizes environmental factors that trigger genetic traits — is part of his allure, but his legacy of putting politics over proven science syncs well with similar sentiment in both Russia and America.
It’s a vision of the future. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration yesterday approved Luxturna, a gene therapy claiming to stop — and even reverse — the effects of a rare genetic eye disease that can cause blindness. The treatment is injected into a patient’s eye as a virus containing a functional version of the defective gene. Spark Therapeutics hasn’t set a price, but it’s widely expected to be around $1 million per patient. The approval, the first for an inherited condition, could open the door for more gene-based therapies.
They aren’t clowning around. Insane Clown Posse, represented by the ACLU, has lost its court battle to have face-painted fans known as Juggalos removed from an FBI gang list made public in the 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the FBI’s designation was not legally binding and thus could not be challenged in court. Some Juggalos said they faced unfair treatment because of the designation, including harassment by police and discrimination in the military. It’s unclear whether the group will appeal.
It’s re-awakened. Just a few short seasons after several big-name programs left for more lucrative conferences, the Big East is back on top of college basketball. In fact, 70 percent of its teams made the NCAA Tournament last year, and in this year’s smaller group, that could hit 80 percent. Thanks in part to Villanova University’s 2016 championship, the league’s among the elites again — now all it has to do is re-establish itself as a destination for the kind of recruits that will keep it there.