The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Dow Plunges Amid Continuing Volatility

    It’s not over yet. Amid lingering concerns about higher interest rates and rising inflation, the Dow Jones sank into correction territory today, dipping down more than 1,000 points — or 4.3 percent. The development is the latest twist in a dizzying week for Wall Street, as new market volatility has shattered the relative calm of recent years. “There’s no telling whether it’s going to be over in a few days or a few weeks,” one trader said, though few seem worried. The NASDAQ and S&P 500 also closed down by nearly 4 percent.

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    Government Shutdown Begins at Midnight 

    Closing time. At midnight on Friday the federal government shutdown after the Senate failed to pass a spending bill. Republican Senator Rand Paul used procedural delays to postpone a vote and protest what he said was complicity on deficit spending. Meanwhile, the half-trillion-dollar spending deal faces opposition in the House as minority leader Nancy Pelosi said she will vote against the legislation that leaves “dreamers’” fate uncertain. It’s the second shutdown in three weeks. The Senate, which reconvenes at 12:01 a.m., will try the vote again on Friday morning.

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    Pelosi’s Dreamer Marathon Shows Divide in Budget Talks

    She persisted. While Senate colleagues lauded a “genuine breakthrough” in bipartisan budget negotiations, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi held the House floor for eight hours — the longest speech in at least a century — demanding protection for immigrant “Dreamers.” Pelosi voiced progressives’ disapproval of the two-year budget agreement, which boosts spending by $300 billion, mostly for the Pentagon, but does not address immigration. Fiscal hawks on the right are also opposed. If both houses approve a deal before tonight’s government shutdown deadline, President Donald Trump is expected to sign it.

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    US Strikes Pro-Assad Forces in Syria

    “Unprovoked.” That’s how the U.S.-led coalition described a Syrian government attack on their positions in Deir el-Zour province on Wednesday. The coalition responded in a rare show of force, with airstrikes and artillery reportedly killing 100 pro-regime attackers. The area is split between U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces fighters and Syrian President Bashar Assad’s troops, often backed by both Iranian and Russian forces. Meanwhile, U.S. troops in the city of Manbij are prominently flying American flags, hoping to discourage Turkish forces from attacking U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters.

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    North Korea Stages Military Parade Ahead of Olympics

    Was that a gesture? Pyongyang’s anticipated military parade — rescheduled from April in a move many saw as intended to rattle South Korea’s nerves before tomorrow’s Winter Olympics opening ceremonies — appeared relatively low-key today. Maybe that’s because on Saturday, the North’s 22-member diplomatic delegation, including leader Kim Jong Un’s influential sister, Kim Yo Jong, will meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Meanwhile, Pyeongchang’s norovirus cases have ballooned from 32 to 86, leaving the Olympic hosts scrambling to find the outbreak’s source.

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    US Cybersecurity Chief Says Russia Hacked Voter Rolls

    They didn’t just try. The head of cybersecurity for the Department of Homeland Security said Russia succeeded in breaking into state election systems before the 2016 election. It was previously revealed that hackers had attempted to access 21 states’ databases, but Jeanette Manfra, who’s charged with keeping such “critical infrastructure” systems safe, revealed that “an exceptionally small number” were actually breached. The DHS secretary at the time, Jeh Johnson, said the news is a “wake-up call” for state and federal officials to act “before our democracy is attacked again.”


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    Grateful Dead Lyricist and Internet Pioneer Dies

    His work lives on. John Perry Barlow, digital freedom activist and founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, died Wednesday at age 70. Barlow became famous as a lyricist with the Grateful Dead, co-writing dozens of songs including “Cassidy,” “Black-Throated Wind” and “Mexicali Blues.” He later became an internet activist and is credited with coining the term “cyberspace.” Influenced by the “tapers welcome” philosophy that invited fans to record Dead shows, his foundation continues to promote what Barlow called “a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice.”

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    Study: Suicides Spiked After Robin Williams’ Death

    He set a tragic example. New research on the 24-hour news cycle’s impact on suicides reveals that U.S. rates spiked 10 percent in the months following Williams’ 2014 death. It’s not a new phenomenon: The 1774 Goethe novel The Sorrows of Young Werther was blamed for a string of suicides in Europe. But the study showed a significant contrast between Williams and Kurt Cobain. In 1994, less-ubiquitous media downplayed the details of Cobain’s death and suicides didn’t increase. The study’s authors believe a return to restraint might mitigate the “Werther effect.”

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    Prehistoric Briton Was Dark-Skinned, Blue-Eyed

    He’s part of the family. DNA analysis has finally put a face to Britain’s most famous early inhabitant, revealing blue eyes, dark skin and curly hair. The 10,000-year-old “Cheddar Man,” found in southwestern England’s Cheddar Gorge, is the oldest genetically mapped Briton. Scientists previously assumed early humans’ skin lightened much earlier to cope with reduced sunlight as they migrated into Europe 45,000 years ago. Their DNA analysis and facial modeling work will be featured in the upcoming documentary The First Brit: Secrets of the 10,000-Year-Old Man.

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    Eccentric Billionaire to Buy ‘Los Angeles Times’

    Someone had to. After years of rocky management by media conglomerate Tronc, the award-winning paper is being sold, along with The San Diego Union-Tribune, to local entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong for $500 million. A former cancer researcher who broke into the drug business, Soon-Shiong, worth nearly $8 billion, could heal the struggling newspaper, which shed half its newsroom in recent years. He’s cultivated relationships in both the Obama and Trump administrations — but he’s also been accused of fraud, a reputation some worry could shadow his new media acquisitions.

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    Can Corruption Be Rooted Out of College Basketball?

    This fix is in. After recent FBI arrests of coaches, agents and shoe company executives for buying off high school recruits, observers have fiercely debated the role the NCAA should play in regulating a recruiting process dominated by the Amateur Athletic Union and anonymous bags of cash. Commissions have been established to clean things up, but the problem is deeply ingrained. Many worry that major change isn’t likely as long as sponsors with deep pockets keep hosting tournaments to discover and manipulate talent as early as the fourth grade.