The Presidential Daily Brief


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    And the Awards Go to…

    Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water won Best Picture with the director also taking home an Oscar for Best Director. Meanwhile, Gary Oldmen won his first Academy Award for his portrayal as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour and Frances McDormand won for her role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Jordan Peele, writer and director of Get Out, became the first African American to win an award for Best Original Screenplay. And host Jimmy Kimmel referenced #MeToo topics in an opening monologue, praising the Oscar statue who always kept “his hands where you can see them.”

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    Italy Could Have Hung Parliament After Elections

    They came, they saw, they voted. Exit polls suggesting gains by populist and right-wing parties mean an absolute majority in Italy’s parliament is unlikely. That could lead to weeks of coalition-building negotiations. It’s expected that ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s bloc will win the most seats while the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, coming in second, wins the most votes for a single party. The country’s ruling Democratic Party is projected for third place as citizens expressed frustration with unemployment and immigration policies. The final results are not expected until later today.

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    President Increasingly Isolated Amid New Corruption Allegations

    “I like chaos.” Last night’s Gridiron Dinner quip by President Donald Trump acknowledges what many are calling the condition of his administration. Recent allegations include reports suggesting Jared Kushner nearly started a war to extort money from Qatar in a Russian-linked transaction and that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probing the United Arab Emirates’ attempts to buy White House influence. And with confidantes like Communications Director Hope Hicks leaving the West Wing, the president seems isolated and angry, lashing out at friends and foes alike, with one official warning, “We haven’t bottomed out.”

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    Trump’s Raised Europe’s Harley Threat With BMWs

    Will Brussels up the ante? President Trump’s roiled global markets — and fellow Republican leaders — by promising to enact tariffs on steel and aluminum this week. It prompted EU retaliation threats against Harley Davidsons, made in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Wisconsin, and bourbon, impacting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky. So Trump tweeted Saturday that America would “apply a tax on their cars.” Analysts say continued salvos would further depress stocks, even while economic fundamentals remain strong, and won’t much affect purported target China, which produces only 2 percent of U.S. steel imports.

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    New Shooting Punctuates Gun Control Fight

    Police arrested a 19-year-old in the fatal shooting of his parents in his Central Michigan University dormitory Friday — an incident that’s certain to stoke anger that erupted Feb. 14 when 17 people were killed in a shooting at a Florida high school. Its students returned to class last week, and now gun control advocates wait to find out if President Trump was serious Wednesday when he suggested taking guns from potentially dangerous individuals. Meanwhile, businesses such as outfitter REI are using their financial clout to promote action on gun violence.

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    Xi Jinping’s Rise, Just in Time for a Trade War

    He said the right things — at first. The Communist Party of China has voted to remove presidential term limits, potentially making Xi Jinping president for life and dashing hopes for gradual liberalization of the world’s most populous nation. China has done relatively well guiding the economy while remaining politically repressive, evidenced by recent censorship sweeps. This week, the National People’s Congress is expected to ratify Xi’s unlimited reign, coinciding with his U.S. counterpart’s Beijing-targeted declaration of a 25 percent steel tariff — and a possible trade war.

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    Backup’s Not Coming for UK Financial Fraud Cops

    Britain’s Serious Fraud Office has been kicking butt and taking names, prosecuting major banks for rigging interest rates and paying off foreign officials. Established in 1988 as a watchdog after London opened to foreign capital markets, the SFO has unnerved U.K. leaders anxious to welcome foreign investment, especially facing Brexit’s “hard facts.” Next year, it hopes to prove that Barclays bank paid a $452 million bribe to Qatar, which propped up the institution during the 2008 financial crisis, but by then, the office may be shuttered, if Prime Minister Theresa May gets her way.

  8. Netanyahu’s DC Diversion, Merkel’s Fourth Term and Deadly Nor’easter

    The Week Ahead: Beset by corruption probes, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to arrive in Washington, D.C., Monday to visit President Trump and address America’s most powerful Israel lobbying group. On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson begins his first official trip to Africa. And Thursday is International Women’s Day.

    Know This: German Social Democrats have voted convincingly to renew a governing coalition with Angela Merkel’s conservatives, giving Merkel a fourth term as chancellor.  A fierce nor’easter storm battered the U.S. East Coast Friday, causing at least five deaths and leaving more than 2 million homes and businesses without power. And an as-yet unnamed man shot fatally shot himself outside of the north fence of the White House Saturday. 

    Give Us the Scoop: What do you know and what do you want to discover? If you’ve got an idea for an awesome story, we’d love to hear it. Send your pitches to and our reporters and editors will run them down.


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    Monica Lewinsky Finds Solace in the #MeToo Era

    Her harassers were legion. But Monica Lewinsky, looking back 20 years after her affair with President Bill Clinton nearly cost him the presidency, acknowledges being a willing participant. Still, the scandal has new resonance now that the #MeToo movement’s questioning such gross abuses of power. As one woman told her recently, “I’m so sorry you were so alone.” After enduring threats as a 24-year-old intern from both sides of an epic political battle, Lewinsky writes that a new generation of courageous women are helping her confront and unpack her own trauma.

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    Is There Anything Donald ‘Atlanta’ Glover Can’t Do?

    Probably not. Donald Glover stars in, writes and occasionally directs his comedy series Atlanta, which won two Golden Globes and two Emmys for its first season. Then there’s his sketch comedy and stand-up, acting in the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story and The Lion King, plus a musical side gig as Childish Gambino, who won a Grammy this year. He hopes Atlanta, which he says he tricked FX into doing with an action- and trope-packed pilot, will convey “what it’s like to be Black in America” as its second season begins. 

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    Italy’s Schools, Legislators and Social Networks Battle Fake News

    As the country braces for Sunday’s elections, Italy’s government has debuted an initiative encouraging citizens to report potential online hoaxes. The country’s mobilized en masse against fake news — even as battling political parties use the term as a weapon against each other — with high schools teaching students how to tell fact from finzione. And the Italian arm of Facebook is partnering with a fact-checking organization to down-vote and disappear fake stories, while legislators have proposed a law fining those who digitally deceive or disseminate hate.

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    How a Cornell Scientist Fed the World Food Fables

    Can’t resist those empty calories. Brian Wansink’s Food and Brand Lab was a media phenomenon, dishing out studies whose results were sure to produce headlines, like how kids will eat veggies with cool names. But in November, critics published a dossier dissecting the lab’s work and found it wanting. Now BuzzFeed has obtained emails that show the researcher urging partners and underlings to manipulate data to find potentially viral results, supporting critics’ suspicions while leaving a bad taste in the mouths of journalists, academics and officials who fed on the lab’s revelations.

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    Himalayan Hockey Is an Actual Thing

    History was made in northern India as a puck dropped at 14,340 feet and — oxygen tanks handy — the highest regulation ice hockey game ever recorded was played. It was the idea of the Hockey Foundation, an American charity, to not only break into the Guinness World Records book, but also transport rink boards to the region for the hockey-crazed residents of Ladakh. Now, despite the cold and the Indian bureaucracy, local players finally have a functioning full-size rink. And they can practice properly to beat the Hockey Foundation team next time.