The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Hawaiians Get False ‘Ballistic Missile’ Alert

    “THIS IS NOT A DRILL” That’s what the Hawaii Emergency  Management Agency falsely texted across the state at 8:07 a.m. It wasn’t a drill, but neither was it a “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND” as indicated by the message, which told Hawaiians to “SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER.” The agency quickly said the message was a mistake, but correction text wasn’t sent until 38 minutes later, leaving police and other authorities scrambling to calm panicked residents. Gov. David Ige apologized to those affected, saying an employee had pressed the wrong button, and federal authorities plan to investigate.

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    Trump Extends Iran Deal, Imposes Rights Sanctions

    “This is a last chance.” That’s what President Donald Trump said Friday of the 2015 deal that lifted international sanctions in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear program, which he’s extending while imposing new sanctions. The Islamic Republic, already under pressure in the wake of last week’s nationwide protests, said the U.S. “crossed a red line” with new restrictions on 14 Iranians, including the country’s judicial chief, for human rights abuses. Trump’s urging the pact’s signatories to fix its “terrible flaws” or he’ll pull out of the agreement in a few months.

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    Will Justices Draw the Line on Gerrymandering?

    Boundaries needed. When it comes to drawing congressional districts, courts have avoided setting limits on how much a majority party can dilute or concentrate its rivals’ voters. Last week, a federal circuit court invalidated North Carolina’s GOP-drawn districts, and there are similar cases from Maryland and Pennsylvania, where Republicans had better luck in federal court but must rebut another challenge in the state’s Supreme Court Wednesday. The U.S. Supreme Court, which already rejects racial gerrymandering, has hinted it might be ready to tame the political version in a Wisconsin case it’s mulling over.

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    Amid North Korean Thaw, Talk of War

    The game’s afoot. This week North Korea raised hopes of cooling nuclear-armed tensions by agreeing to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics next month in South Korea. But President Donald Trump said there might be a “bloody nose” military strike to keep Pyongyang contained, which experts predict would end with mass casualties on both sides. At the same time, Trump boasted in an interview of a “very good relationship” with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, suggesting, though not confirming, that he may already have spoken to him.

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    The Deadly Consequences of U.S. Deportations

    It’s no place like home. Long a theoretical discussion, the fate of refugees deported from the U.S. has become frighteningly real. A database built by Columbia University’s Global Migration Project reveals how, thanks to aggressive immigration policies, legal missteps and bureaucratic snafus, many immigrants have returned to early graves in countries like Mexico and Honduras. Safeguards implemented to prevent a repeat of America’s fatal pre-World War II rejection of Jewish refugees are now being routinely disregarded, raising the specter of sending even more asylum-seekers to violent deaths.

  6. ‘Racist’ Diplomacy, Return of DACA and Manning for Senate

    The Week Ahead: President Trump, signing a proclamation Friday ahead of Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day, was confronted with the question, “are you a racist?” — after reportedly admonishing legislators for a proposal to allow immigration from “sh*thole countries” like Haiti and African nations. On Wednesday, the president plans to announce Fake News Awards, which ethics experts warn could cause legal trouble. And Friday is the latest deadline for Congress to agree on a budget, averting a partial government shutdown.

    Know This: The U.S. immigration agency has said that undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children may now renew their DACA protected status after a federal court blocked a presidential order to phase the program out. Convicted, then pardoned military secrets leaker Chelsea Manning has filed to run for U.S. Senate. And a Wall Street Journal article claims that a month before the 2016 election, candidate Donald Trump’s lawyer paid $130,000 to a porn star keep quiet about an alleged sexual encounter a decade earlier.

    Give Us the Scoop: What do you know and what do you want to discover? If you’ve got an idea for an awesome story, we’d love to hear it. Send your pitches to and our reporters and editors will run them down.


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    How Wisconsin Punished the ‘Slenderman’ Girls

    They summoned demons beyond their control. Captivated by online fan fiction, two Wisconsin sixth-grade girls stabbed a classmate as a “sacrifice” to placate “Slenderman,” a fictional fiend. She survived — but her assailants’ legal drama exposed harsh realities of a court system that treats children as adults, thanks to a debunked “super predator” theory, and allows an unforgiving electorate to choose judges. As their adjudication dragged on, the clickbait case put one defendant, a diagnosed schizophrenic, behind bars without psychiatric care for 18 months, while the public continues to blame screen time for the crime.

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    Climate Fight Pits Exxon Against Its Ghosts

    They’re not proud. Descendants of John D. Rockefeller, once the world’s richest man and founder of Standard Oil, are rising against their heritage. While influential Rockefellers may no longer be as rich as their name suggests, their foundations have helped bankroll investigations that determined that Exxon, one of Standard Oil’s corporate successors, had known about climate change as early as 1977 and later funded campaigns against climate science. Now they’re suing Exxon-Mobil to make it atone for its environmental neglect — while doing a bit of penance for the family name as well.

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    Science Says Vaccinate Kids With Hugs

    Nothing beats a mother’s love. Researchers believe that childhood stress can profoundly affect later health, elevating risk factors from heart disease to diabetes. Six or more childhood traumas, they say, can cut as much as 20 years off one’s life. That’s why more health practitioners say that providing a loving early environment can be as important as vaccinating. That’s motivating investment in programs that teach positive parent-child interactions or — when a parent isn’t available — that foster a caring environment to reassure little kids they’ll always be protected.

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    Writers Follow Faulkner on Mississippi’s Muddy Shores

    The past is not dead. Mississippi’s irritations have long inspired pearls from the likes of Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner and John Grisham. But there’s a new crop of accomplished Magnolia State authors — from National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward to noir novelist William Boyle. Their kindred creative spirits are haunting towns like Oxford, along with the persistent ghosts of racism, poverty and other human struggles that inspire great works. And with a form of Mississippi-style politics ascendant in 2018, these writers might well have some insight for the rest of the nation.

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    Tonya Harding Now Wants Empathy, Not Gold

    She’s no longer the ice queen. Tonya Harding, once a champion figure skater whose career imploded when she was accused of having rival Nancy Kerrigan’s knee clubbed, is now the focus of a film, I, Tonya — one she hopes will bring closure. Though she still skates, Harding — now Tonya Price — has largely retreated into a life of marriage and motherhood. But she hopes the biopic’s portrayal of her abuse in early life will exonerate her in the eyes of a public that still sees her as a punchline.

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    Trump Under Oath Might Be a Different Sort of President

    He knows the drill. President Trump may be interviewed, under oath, by special counsel Robert Mueller and his team. And judging by transcripts of numerous past depositions, interviewers might observe a different Trump than the one who appears in public — more restrained, inclined to admit mistakes and, some would argue, more presidential. He’s also well-versed at not knowing or remembering business details. That might come in handy when discussing what and when he knew about his aides’ Russian contacts, but less so if he’s quizzed on obstruction of justice.