The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Two Weeks Later, Committee Releases Democrats’ FBI Memo

    Was it duly processed? The House Intelligence Committee today released its Democratic members’ memo on the genesis of the investigation into Trump campaign Russian contacts. President Donald Trump had blocked the memo’s release two weeks ago shortly after agreeing to release a Republican-written document that raised doubts about the FBI’s and Justice Department’s justification for surveillance of a campaign operative. The redacted response offers evidence undercutting the first memo, which it called a ”transparent” attempt to undermine investigations into Russian election interference and its possible links to the campaign.

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    A Tragedy, a Movement and a Crack in the Ice

    Something clicked. Survivors of the Valentine’s Day shooting at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were determined that their 17 fallen classmates and teachers wouldn’t be forgotten. Now they’ve spurred like-minded teenagers by “calling BS” on gun regulation foes. It’s kept the nation focused, unlike October’s record 58 deaths in Las Vegas. On Friday, even NRA-backed Florida Gov. Rick Scott led state lawmakers in vowing they’d put new, NRA-opposed limits on who could buy any firearms, including those under 21, domestic abusers or the mentally ill.

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    Gates Agrees to Cooperate With Mueller Probe

    He’s guilty. A former adviser to President Donald Trump’s campaign, Rick Gates, admitted in court Friday to charges he’d concealed money earned in Ukraine aiding its then-Russian-backed leadership. His plea deal includes his cooperation with Robert Mueller’s Russiagate investigation, which leveled conspiracy charges against him and former campaign manager Paul Manafort last fall. On Thursday the investigation added a 32-count indictment against them, including bank- and tax-fraud charges. Gates’ plea makes him the third ex-Trump adviser to cooperate, and shows that multiple campaign aides had worked to promote Russian interests.

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    Union Power, Cloud Storage at Risk in High Court Cases

    They’ll be singin’ the blues without those dues. America’s struggling labor movement — along with the power it wields on behalf of mainly Democratic candidates — is threatened in a case the Supreme Court will hear Monday. Justices will consider the challenge of an Illinois state government worker who objects to mandatory union dues and is expected to win, severely restricting labor organizations’ funding. On Tuesday, Microsoft will argue against the Trump administration’s efforts to obtain information stored overseas, which could impair privacy protections, and consequently, cloud computing businesses.  

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    With ISIS Broken, Syria’s Gotten Worse

    This victory may ruin them. With ISIS nearly crushed, the seven-year Syrian conflict hasn’t abated. The dominant forces and their backers — Russia, Iran, the U.S. and Turkey — battle over the spoils while civilians, like hundreds killed recently in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, cower in the crossfire. Russian-backed regime troops this month attacked U.S.-backed Kurds in Deir el-Zour, while the government has challenged Turkey’s invasion of a Kurdish enclave. And Israel’s going head-to-head with Iranian forces. If not a graveyard of empires, Syria’s certainly shaping up as their battleground.

  6. Olympic Climax, Another Coast and Test of Meddle

    The Week Ahead: Russia may be unbanned from the Winter Olympics in time for Sunday’s closing ceremonies in South Korea, with North Korea represented by an official who allegedly planned a 2010 attack that killed 50 of the host’s citizens. On Wednesday and Thursday, iconic evangelist Rev. Billy Graham will lie in honor at the U.S. Capitol before his Friday funeral. And Thursday is the start of National Women’s History Month, with the theme, “Nevertheless, She Persisted.”

    Know This: The U.S. Coast Guard may be deployed in a new American crackdown on shipping that violates sanctions against North Korea. Presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner’s permanent security clearance has been delayed, reportedly because of the investigation into Russian election meddling. And a woman convicted of attempting to scale a White House barrier last year was arrested Friday after allegedly returning with a gun and hitting a security barrier with an SUV.

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  1. undersea robot exploration shutterstock 755744695

    Deep-Sea Mining Promises Riches and Ruin

    Blame the CIA. Its 1974 mission to salvage a Soviet nuclear sub, dressed up by tycoon Howard Hughes as a deep-sea mining operation, launched a very real industry that is finally exploring the inky depths. But until the first spinning metal teeth begin dredging up plentiful metals such as copper and cobalt, it won’t be clear how much environmental impact the new industry — regulated by an international body selling mineral rights and even distributing proceeds to poor nations — will have on some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet.

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    How to Prove You Don’t Belong on the ‘Hate Map’

    There is, perhaps, resentment. Some American towns that have ended up on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s so-called Hate Map — a database that tracks racist extremism state by state — would love to prove otherwise. Unfortunately for places whose leaders disavow such groups, such as Gurnee, Illinois, inclusion requires only a shred of evidence, in this case a KKK website contributor who claimed the town’s ZIP code. And while the SPLC’s high bar for clearance is frustrating, the group says it’s heartening that communities are unequivocally against such association.

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    Should Silicon Valley Really Be Building Cities?

    It’s utopia for someone. The race is on to build the smartest city, but we might not want to live there, writes urban planning researcher and social critic Joel Kotkin. Tech firms have marketed their urban spaces as more efficient, healthy and livable — all under the creators’ watchful, experience-enhancing sensors. With Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs planning a smart neighborhood in Toronto “from the internet up,” we might get a glimpse of dystopia — or, as others argue, take a big step forward in making civilization more sustainable and people more happy.

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    How Sweden’s Film Workers Took On Abusers

    It’s happening #ThereToo. Sweden, often seen as one of the world’s most progressive societies, has its own “culture of silence,” according to an open letter by 703 Swedish actors. It’s exposed a culture of misogyny similar to the one that sparked the #MeToo movement in the U.S. Now a national debate is taking place, uniting workers as diverse as lawyers and circus hands, in the nation ranked first in Europe for gender equality. Meanwhile, the Swedish #SilenceAction movement has generated such momentum that it’s spreading to other Nordic nations like Norway and Finland.

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    Curling Can’t Be Explained

    He’s sweeping on the job. While physicist Mark Shegelski may never make it to the Winter Olympics, the amateur curler has spent his career studying the competition — specifically how the stones slide on ice. Their curving behavior is the opposite of that observed in other objects, like beer bottles on a bar, inspiring rotation, weight and heat theories that haven’t scored a definitive answer. Apparently American John Schuster’s new curling team got the spin right, beating Sweden today and scoring the USA’s first gold in Gangneung, South Korea, in what’s being called the “Miracurl on Ice.”