The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Train Carrying GOP Lawmakers Crashes

    One person has been reported killed and another seriously injured after an Amtrak train ferrying House and Senate Republicans to an annual retreat in West Virginia crashed into a garbage truck Wednesday morning. None of the lawmakers appeared to be injured, and the identity of the victim — who reportedly wasn’t a passenger — hasn’t been released. The train was heading from Washington, D.C., to a resort in White Sulfur Springs, where GOP members were expected to discuss party issues ahead of this year’s elections.

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    FBI Slams GOP Effort to Release Surveillance Memo

    Don’t do it. That’s what the FBI is publicly telling the White House and Republican lawmakers seeking to release a secret memo they say reveals how law enforcement officials abused their power while surveilling a Trump campaign aide. In a statement, the agency said it has “grave concerns” about the accuracy of the four-page memo, which has become the centerpiece of an unprecedented standoff between the White House and the country’s top law enforcement body. Intelligence officials worry the release could set a negative precedent for spilling government secrets.

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    Trump Gives His First State of the Union Address

    The state of the union is … divided. President Donald Trump touted stock market gains and job growth as a “new American moment” last night, and to many the famously combative chief executive seemed to be striking a more conciliatory tone. More than a dozen Democrats boycotted the speech, while others sat in silence during applause, and women wore black in solidarity with the #MeToo movement. Rep. Joe Kennedy delivered the Democrats’ official rebuttal, saying Trump’s policies are “targeting the very idea that we are all worthy of protection.”

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    Firings Follow Hawaii False Alarm

    Ready, aim … fired. The employee who sent a false missile alert to Hawaii residents earlier this month has been dismissed, and the head of the state’s emergency management department has resigned after an inquiry into the mistake. The employee, according to reports, mistook the drill for a real missile event — and had done so twice before, but remained in his post nonetheless. Other officials have quit or been suspended over the error, and statewide missile drills have been halted until the inquiry concludes.

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    Pope Francis Dispatches Abuse Investigator to Chile

    “The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I’ll speak.” So said Pope Francis on a visit to Chile earlier this month, defending a bishop suspected of covering up the offenses of a pedophile priest. Now the pope’s sent a special investigator to look into the conduct of Bishop Juan Barros Madrid, a change of heart the Vatican credited to new evidence in the case. Some have welcomed the move, though others worry that it’s a public relations tactic after Francis’ earlier statements provoked outrage among victims and their advocates.

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    Tech and Finance Giants Join Forces to Disrupt Health Care

    This is not what the doctor ordered. Shares in medical companies fell yesterday after Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan announced they’ll create a company to provide health care to upwards of 1 million workers at the three firms. Few details were revealed about the plan, though JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon said it could eventually be expanded to cover other Americans. Now industry insiders are feverishly speculating over what it could develop into — and whether these three players have enough pull to make real change.


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    Classified Australian Files Sold at Secondhand Shop

    Follow the furniture. This week, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation has been reporting on leaked government files — and now the source of the apparently accidental breach has been revealed: Two locked filing cabinets containing hundreds of classified documents were bought by a member of the public at a secondhand furniture store in Canberra. Upon discovering the trove, the buyer passed the embarrassing scoop on to journalists. Now Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s office has launched an “urgent probe” to ascertain how the cabinets were sold with sensitive documents still inside.

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    Facebook Blocks Cryptocurrency Ads After Scams

    Call them pyramid memes. Facebook is banning ads for virtual currencies after a series of scams took advantage of the current investment boom. The companies “not currently operating in good faith” include Prodeum, ostensibly a Lithuanian startup that was seeking $6.5 million to create a database of fruits and vegetables using Ethereum’s blockchain. It disappeared in less than a week, its website replaced with a final message to investors: “penis.” Meanwhile, U.S. regulators have reportedly halted virtual currency startup Tether and subpoenaed the company, as well as digital currency exchange Bitfinex.

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    The Pet Travel Industry Is Booming

    Don’t leave home without them. Thanks to a more accommodating travel industry, 37 percent of pet owners are taking their furry friends on the road, up from 19 percent a decade ago. Numerous airlines have eased restrictions on pet travel — and many airports now offer animal-friendly areas inside terminals — while top hotel chains offer specialized pet amenities. But it doesn’t always work out: A woman recently tried to bring her “emotional support” peacock on an airplane, but was denied boarding even when she tried to buy it a seat.

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    ‘Glee’ Actor Mark Salling Found Dead in Apparent Suicide

    He was found by the Los Angeles River. Salling, who pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography in 2016, was discovered dead yesterday at age 35. Police said it’s being investigated as a suicide. He’s the second Glee star to meet an early end: Cory Monteith, 31, died in 2013 of a heroin overdose. Salling was expected to receive up to seven years in prison as part of a plea deal after more than 50,000 images of child pornography were found on his computer. His sentencing was scheduled for March.

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    Study: Female Jockeys Equal to Men in Skill, Not Opportunity

    Hold your horses. A new British study suggests female jockeys are statistically as good as their male counterparts on horses of similar ability. But women held only 11.3 percent of professional jockey licenses and accounted for just 5.2 percent of rides during the 14 racing seasons and more than 1 million rides examined. The study also noted a difference in the quality of horses available to women, and consequently the prize money they collected. The British Horseracing Authority said it would take steps to address the gender disparity.