The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Congressional Leaders Announce Budget Deal

    They’re calling it a “genuine breakthrough.” Senate leaders say they’ve reached a deal on a two-year budget boosting federal spending by nearly $300 million, ending months of partisan wrangling over money management. If approved by the House, the deal — backed by the White House — would funnel an extra $165 billion to the military and provide nearly $90 billion in disaster relief. But while it includes demands from both sides of the aisle, the bill doesn’t address the “Dreamers,” and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says she’ll oppose it unless lawmakers offer an immigration bill.

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    Trump Orders Generals to Stage Military Parade

    He enjoyed watching tanks on the Champs-Elysees. President Donald Trump has tasked the Pentagon with staging a military parade like the Bastille Day procession he saw in Paris — which made such an impression that Trump reportedly told his French counterpart he’d have to top it. The event — likely costing millions of dollars — has provoked comparisons to despotic shows of force, but Presidents John Kennedy and George Bush Sr. staged similar displays. The Pentagon confirmed that planning is underway and Trump has suggested it might happen on Independence Day.

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    SpaceX Launches Massive New Rocket

    It’s flying high. SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon Heavy from Florida’s NASA Kennedy Space Center Tuesday, sending up the most powerful rocket currently in use. Essentially three rockets strapped together with 27 engines, the 230-foot behemoth carried a red Tesla sports car — with “Starman” the mannequin and David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” playing — over the Atlantic Ocean and into space. Two boosters returned, landing intact, but a third lacked fuel and crashed. It’s a milestone in commercial spaceflight, providing heavy lifting at just $90 million per launch — which isn’t so astronomical.

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    Deadly Taiwan Earthquake Topples Buildings, Kills 7

    Fears are mounting. More than 140 people are missing after a magnitude 6.4 earthquake hit Taiwan’s east coast just before midnight Tuesday, killing at least seven and injuring more than 200. Rescuers are searching for survivors in several large buildings, including a hotel that collapsed into its lower floors and a 12-story apartment block that’s tilting precariously. The shallow temblor struck 13 miles northeast of Hualien, near the convergence of two tectonic plates. A series of aftershocks have kept residents outdoors, and authorities warn that tipping structures may collapse.

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    Markets Rebound After Big Drop

    Was it a blip? The Dow Jones average shed more points Monday than ever before, so fear was high on the list of Tuesday’s initial market drivers. But after swinging 1,167 points between its intraday valley and peak, the Dow ended 2.3 percent up — a gain mirrored by most other indexes. Traders appeared to heed reassurances from officials who said strong labor market indicators didn’t mean higher interest rates were imminent, and economic underpinnings remain strong. Asian markets spiked upward today but lost most of those gains, and analysts warn of further volatility.


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    Brain Implant May Stimulate Better Memory

    It’s the latest buzz. Scientists have created an implantable device that might spark recollections by jolting the brain when it seems at risk of forgetting new information. This deep-brain stimulation combined with a real-time map of neural activity — showing when and where cells in the lateral temporal cortex need a nudge — improved results on a memory exercise by as much as 15 percent. DBS implants are already being used to help manage Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy, but researchers hope this targeted technique might even help treat dementia patients.

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    Avoiding Libya’s Perils, Migrants Target Spain

    They’re navigating turbulent waters. Europe-bound migrants are increasingly choosing the Mediterranean’s dangerous western route, with some even attempting to jet-ski across the Strait of Gibraltar. While the Libya-to-Italy route is still bustling, arrivals in Spain doubled in 2017 — and five times more refugees died attempting that journey than taking boats to Greece. Those who do make it to Spanish soil encounter an unsympathetic Madrid government with limited resources. But with insurgencies and poverty still breeding misery in parts of Africa, the hazardous crossings are likely to continue.

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    Alt-Weeklies Face Grim Future

    It’s all the news not fit to print. While enterprising local journalism is as important as ever, its platform has never been more imperiled. Once a mainstay of local media landscapes, alternative weeklies like Nashville’s The Scene and Baltimore’s City Paper are dying out — victims of social media and a collapsing financial model. Scrappy and irreverent, they’ve provided critical windows onto neighborhood-level news through dogged reporting and long-form writing. Many are searching for ways to stay profitable, such as dropping print editions, like Manhattan’s Village Voice, or putting up paywalls.

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    ‘Game of Thrones’ Creators to Write New ‘Star Wars’ Films

    They are one with the force. Disney announced yesterday that showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have been tapped to further explore that galaxy far, far away. Their cinematic Star Wars tales will be separate from the Skywalker saga — ending in 2019 with Episode IX — and another film series being developed by Last Jedi director Rian Johnson. Benioff and Weiss say they’re excited and “a little terrified by the responsibility.” They’ll look toward the stars after completing the final season of Game of Thrones.

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    Norovirus Hits Pyeongchang Security Staff

    Nobody wins this event. Some 1,200 private security guards in South Korea’s Olympic host city have been quarantined after 41 were hospitalized with norovirus symptoms including headaches, stomach pains and diarrhea. Local health officials say contaminated ground water may be to blame. To compensate, 900 South Korean soldiers have been deployed as replacements for the security guards, who’ll remain in their quarters until Olympic officials are sure they won’t spread the contagion. Meanwhile, authorities are disinfecting Olympic accommodations while checking others for signs of illness ahead of the Opening Ceremony on Friday.