It was open and shut. The federal government entered its second shutdown in three weeks at midnight as legislators waited for Sen. Rand Paul to scold them about deficit spending before allowing a vote. The Senate finally passed the bipartisan spending package 71-28, and the House followed 240-186 early Friday morning, despite Democrats’ immigration concerns and Republican deficit hawks’ opposition to $300 billion in spending increases. President Donald Trump — whose spokespeople have lauded the bill — promptly signed it, tweeting the deal “means JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!”
The Presidential Daily Brief
And they’re just getting started. As the Olympics get underway today, Pyeongchang faces numerous vexing issues, including the weather: It may be the Winter Games, but tonight’s opening ceremonies were among the coldest in 24 years. Then there’s the 130 norovirus cases that left 1,200 guards quarantined. And if it wasn’t dramatic enough that North Korea’s attending, potentially making contact with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, another international pariah’s grabbing headlines: Iran complained that its athletes were excluded from a smartphone giveaway over sanctions, prompting a quick diplomatic reversal.
His vetting may not have been extreme. Until this week, few people knew of White House staff secretary Rob Porter or his role as gatekeeper for President Trump. Once he resigned Wednesday, denying two ex-wives’ allegations of domestic abuse, he was spotlighted, sparking fresh controversies. Those include reports that Trump, chief of staff John Kelly and Communications Director Hope Hicks, who is now dating Porter, knew for months about his baggage — including his failure to obtain a security clearance — throwing the West Wing into a fresh damage-control cycle.
Where’s the bottom? Lingering worries about U.S. interest rates and the government shutdown pushed the Dow Jones average into correction territory — 10 percent below recent highs — dropping an additional 1,033 points, or 4.1 percent. It’s been a dizzying trading week, exacerbated by Washington’s budget debate. “With financial markets vulnerable at the moment, this was not great timing for such political brinksmanship,” opined one analyst. The selling continued in Asia, where Japanese and Chinese indexes fell as much as 4 percent, while European trading began with more modest declines.
Know This: The Trump administration secretly reached out to Iran in December to negotiate a prisoner swap but received no response, according to The Wall Street Journal. U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria have captured the final two British ISIS members from a group nicknamed “The Beatles,” wanted in two dozen hostage murders. And Chicago schools are closed as the Midwest braces for a major snowstorm that could drop 14 inches.
Try This: Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it by taking the PDB Quiz.
Talk to Us: Tell us how you really feel. Our electrifying TV show, Third Rail With OZY, is shelving the PC and whipping up debates. Each week we’re posting a provocative question, and we want you to weigh in. This week: Should performance-enhancing drugs be allowed in sports? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts, and we might feature your answer next week.
How would you like yours? Using ovarian tissue, scientists in Scotland have grown human eggs to maturity in a laboratory — a potential breakthrough for fertility treatment and research. Development to the point at which eggs were ready for fertilization took only 22 days, compared to five months in the body. This offers hope to women who lose fertility, such as cancer patients. Now researchers must determine if the mature eggs are normal and could be fertilized, though experts warn that perfecting a treatment could take years.
It’s a movable feast. California’s Mexican food truck operators are trying to unite Latino and Muslim communities via their taste buds. The two cultures share a long culinary history dating back to Moorish Spain, and more recently they have something else in common: being political targets. The 2016 GOP campaign warning of “taco trucks on every corner” inspired activist chefs to launch #TacoTrucksAtEveryMosque to build relationships between the two marginalized communities. After Islamic services, the touring trucks provide free halal food, allowing diners to mingle and discuss common issues.
It’s on the up-and-up. For the first time in its 12-year history, the microblogging network turned a profit, netting $91 million last quarter on $732 million in revenue. It’s an encouraging milestone for Twitter, whose users stagnated near 330 million in 2017 as it busied itself purging malicious bots and hate speech while contending with several failed takeover attempts. The company’s long-suffering stock shot upward with the news. “I’m proud of the steady progress we made in 2017,” said CEO Jack Dorsey, “and confident in our path ahead.”
He’s under the gun. The Pulp Fiction director personally and publicly apologized for recently unearthed comments he made in a 2003 Howard Stern interview, when he said Samantha Geimer “wanted to have it” when Polanski raped the 13-year-old in 1977. “I was ignorant and insensitive,” Tarantino wrote, explaining that he was provocatively playing “devil’s advocate.” The director’s been coming to terms with his close collaboration with disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein, and his controversies may continue with his upcoming film about the Manson family, which features Polanski as a character.
Will King James appreciate his new court? Hours before the NBA’s trading deadline, Cleveland swapped point guard Isaiah Thomas and forward Channing Frye for two Lakers: Forward Larry Nance Jr. and guard Jordan Clarkson will join recent acquisitions George Hill and Rodney Hood in a drastically overhauled Cavs lineup hoping to stay competitive against rival Golden State. Meanwhile, Thomas will share backcourt duties with rookie Lonzo Ball for Los Angeles, which may now have salary cap room to go after LeBron James himself — leaving Cleveland with an empty throne.