Now it’s official. President Donald Trump has signed into law a $1.5 trillion tax reform celebrated by Republicans as their first major accomplishment after a year of executive and legislative control. While the legislation provides tax cuts across virtually all income brackets, analysts say corporations and wealthy Americans stand to benefit most. The first such overhaul since 1986, it’ll take effect next month — and now, Republicans are hoping it’ll pay political dividends as they seek to maintain their majorities in Congress during next year’s midterm elections.
The Presidential Daily Brief
It passed, 128-9. Another 35 nations abstained from the vote on a United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Though it passed easily, it’s non-binding — meaning there’s no way for the UN to act on it — but the vote sends a clear message on the move, which sparked protests in the Middle East and could provoke further unrest. Many U.S. allies supported the resolution, even after Trump threatened to cut financial aid to dissenters, joking, “We’ll save a lot.”
They’re learning how to secede without really trying. Though the unionist Ciudadanos is now the largest single party in Catalonia’s parliament — and anti-independence parties won the majority of the popular vote — the three separatist parties together will control the region after taking 70 seats collectively in yesterday’s regional elections. Now those parties, which differ radically on other issues, will have to forge a coalition and decide on leadership. Meanwhile, the euro dipped in response to the news, with Catalonia’s major banks taking the biggest hits.
Who’s feeling lucky enough to replace him? Eric Schmidt is leaving his role as executive chairman for Alphabet, Google’s parent company, though he’ll remain on the board and serve as a technical adviser. Alphabet also owns YouTube, Nest and Waymo. Google was founded in 1998 and Schmidt joined as CEO in 2001, moving to head of Alphabet when the company was restructured in 2015. Aside from Schmidt saying “the time is right,” little’s been said about the reason for the change. Alphabet’s expected to replace him with a non-executive chair.
“People aren’t going to stop coming unless there are consequences to illegal entry.” So said one DHS official of a plan under consideration in the Trump administration to separate families in immigration detention, sending children to government shelters while their parents remain in separate custody. The policy was floated in March, but backlash stopped its implementation until now, when a sharp upward spike in immigration may be prompting harsher solutions. Meanwhile, opponents point out that many families are seeking asylum and such policies could endanger their lives.
Know This: The Senate has passed a stopgap spending bill to avoid a partial government shutdown until Jan. 19. Bitcoin has lost about a third of its value in five days, plunging to its lowest levels since 2013. And Peruvian President Pablo Kuczynski has survived an attempt to push him out of office.
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: Who are the biggest winners and losers of 2017? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts, and we might feature your answer next week.
They’re gonna blow. Research published in Geology shows the smallest shifts in climate can increase the frequency of volcanic eruptions. By examining Icelandic eruptions dating back 4,500 to 5,500 years, scientists concluded that volcanic activity dropped as ice expanded and glaciers grew — and that even minor changes in ice volume trigger more and bigger eruptions. While it’s not clear how they’re connected, study authors suspect retreating glaciers ease pressure on the Earth’s surface, resulting in freer-flowing magma. That’ll happen, researchers believe, in the Pacific Northwest, southern South America and Antarctica.
He gave them a pizza his mind. Storied founder John Schnatter is out as Papa John’s CEO, following controversial political declarations that most recently landed on the doorstep of the NFL. Schnatter decried peaceful football player protests two months ago when he told owners they were partially to blame for lackluster growth of the pizza chain, a league sponsor. Meanwhile, company stocks plunged 30 percent, consuming some $70 million of the founder’s personal fortune. Chief Operating Officer Steve Ritchie, who hasn’t explained the change, replaces Schnatter on Jan. 1.
They were collateral damage. A new University of Arizona study estimates that from 1951 to 1973, radioactive fallout from above-ground nuclear weapons tests in the U.S. caused 340,000 to 690,000 deaths — seven to 14 times more than previously estimated. Many of those additional victims were Americans who drank contaminated milk after atmospheric winds carried radiation far from test blasts in Nevada. The findings also suggest that the 1963 Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty saved perhaps 24 million lives, though many Americans probably continue to suffer fallout-related conditions.
It’s #BelieveWomen, not #BlameWomen. Right-wing street artist Sabo has taken responsibility for a series of posters that appeared in Hollywood this week accusing actress Meryl Streep of complicity in Harvey Weinstein’s alleged crimes. While the posters show Streep with the words “She knew” over her eyes, Sabo admitted he didn’t know if his assertion was true, instead reportedly saying the posters are revenge for the actress’ criticism of President Trump. Streep has issued a statement denying any knowledge of Weinstein’s actions, saying, “I didn’t know.”
XFL … 2001 … bad ratings … hike! Wrestling impresario Vince McMahon is selling about $100 million in stock from his World Wrestling Entertainment company amid speculation he’s exploring a return of the XFL — a short-lived alternative to the NFL he created in 2001. The XFL only lasted one season, and lost WWE and NBC around $35 million each, but did introduce skycams and mic’ed players to the sport. Records show McMahon’s sale aims to bankroll Alpha Entertainment, which lists professional football as one of its investment opportunities.