The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Stormy Week Ends With Federal Shutdown

    The bucks stop here. As Saturday dawned, a Senate stopgap budget deadlock triggered a shutdown of non-essential government functions. GOP leaders needed Democrats’ cooperation to reach the required 60 votes, so Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer negotiated with Trump into the night. But Republicans wouldn’t abide concessions such as loosening immigration policy and boosting Puerto Rico aid. The crisis capped a week that included reports that Trump’s lawyer paid for a porn star’s silence and a Republican senator’s speech comparing presidential anti-media tirades to Stalinism, controversies fading quickly amid partisan shutdown sniping.

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    The World to Face America in Davos

    They’ll all be there. For the first time in 18 years, a U.S. president will address the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday, but don’t expect a lovefest among the record 70 leaders assembling Tuesday. President Trump will find fellow populists, like Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and other key speakers are likely to clash with his positions. Al Gore plans to urge action on climate change despite official U.S. disinterest. And Australian actor Cate Blanchett is to accept an award for helping refugees — something America’s unlikely to get anytime soon.

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    Feds Still Aren’t Sure How China Crushed CIA Network

    What he knew may have killed them. Since 2010, Beijing has killed or imprisoned more than a dozen American intelligence assets — in one case shooting a man in front of his co-workers. This week, the FBI arrested former CIA case officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee in New York. He’d recruited spies in China, and in 2012, agents allegedly discovered doomed CIA sources’ names in his possession. But while Lee faces 10 years for retaining secrets, investigators haven’t proven he’s their mole, so they’re also probing other potential culprits, like cyberespionage.

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    Can This Subreddit Save the Internet’s Soul?

    Your online comments changed my opinion — said many people, regularly. In a digital discussion environment that resembles a postapocalyptic free-fire zone, Change My View is an oasis of courteous debate. Created in 2013 by Scottish high school senior Kal Turnbull, it’s a moderated Reddit page upon which submitters challenge commenters to persuade them to renounce something they believe in with some misgivings. Successful mind-changers can even compete for “deltas” awarded by submitters unafraid to admit their malleability. But it’s not about weakness: “Low-effort” comments get deleted along with impolite rhetoric.

  5. Pence’s Holy Land Visit, Kabul Hotel Attack and Petty’s Mistake

    The Week Ahead: Four NFL teams will clash Sunday to determine which two will meet in the Super Bowl. And on Monday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence arrives in Israel to meet officials — but not Palestinian leaders upset over America’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and a U.S. aid cut.

    Know This: Afghan special forces have killed three gunmen and ended a siege at a Kabul hotel that resulted in five other deaths. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to President Trump’s latest travel ban, which targets six mainly Muslim nations and two others. And a jury in Canada has found three rail workers not guilty of criminal negligence in an oil-carrying train’s 2013 accident that killed 47 people and devastated a small Quebec town.

    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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    Who Enabled Larry Nassar’s Serial Molestation?

    He’s finished. More than 150 women have accused U.S. Olympic gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar of sexual abuse, and the majority of them are testifying during his ongoing sentencing hearing. Many wonder, though, how he was able to keep treating girls at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics — even after 2014 complaints. Some point to the sport’s unapproachable coaches, along with college administrators who believed Nassar’s “expert” medical colleagues when they “exonerated” him before new abuse incidents. Even parents of victims, relying on team officials’ handling of abuse allegations, remained silent.

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    When Daughters Discern the Donald in Dad

    It’s a house divided. Lily Miller, 17, avoids talking politics with her father, 49, who supports her ambition to run for public office, but wouldn’t vote for her. The Iowa family’s predicament mirrors such relationships nationwide, strained by the reality that a majority of males over age 49 boosted Donald Trump into the Oval Office, while 69 percent of female voters under 35 picked Hillary Clinton. That stark division has consequences: Researchers have found that family gatherings are ending quicker — presumably to minimize awkward silences and indignant outbursts.

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    Pricey Driver’s Ed May Be Limiting Poor Teens’ Futures

    It takes wheels to be upwardly mobile. Once a high school staple, driving lessons are more expensive than ever, leaving them out of reach for the economically disadvantaged. This traditional rite of passage, costing as much as $500, is often unfunded or subsidized by confusing assistance programs. That helps explain why 67 percent of white 18-year-olds are licensed, compared to 37 percent and 29 percent, respectively, for their Black and Hispanic peers. That means their options for jobs or continuing education, experts say, will be limited by their inability to commute.

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    Zimbabwe May Be a Mess, But It’s Got Wi-Fi

    Click to connect. Zimbabwe’s mired in economic and political uncertainty, but that hasn’t hampered the country’s technology scene. A public Wi-Fi revolution is underway, with top telecom provider Econet Zimbabwe setting up wireless networks emanating from 240 commuter buses in various cities. Competitor NetOne offers mobile routers connecting 32 devices at a time. While half the country still lacks regular access, mobile phones are everywhere — and while broadband isn’t free, it’s catching on, giving the country’s beleaguered citizens a glimpse of one possible future.

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    As Oscar Nods Loom, ‘Three Billboards’ Becomes Target

    Is it woke enough? Four Golden Globes gave Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri powerful Oscar buzz — and many are already lambasting the seemingly progressive film for its failings. While Frances McDormand has won accolades for her performance as an enraged mom seeking justice for her murdered daughter, others insist that its racial politics are worryingly retrograde, with the semi-redemption of a racist police antagonist while his victims remain invisible. With nominations expected Tuesday, some hope the academy will instead awaken to films like the racially charged Get Out.