The Presidential Daily Brief


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    UK Police: Russian Ex-Spy Poisoned With Nerve Agent

    British law enforcement officials say a nerve agent was used in an apparent attempt to murder a former Russian spy and his daughter in a southern English city last weekend. Sergei Skripal, 66, and 33-year-old Yulia remain in critical condition after being found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury. The case is being treated as “a major incident,” a top police official said — though he refused to identify the substance used. The Kremlin, long dogged by allegations that it murders its opponents abroad, has already distanced itself from Skripal’s death.

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    White House Economic Adviser Gary Cohn to Resign

    Beware the wrath of Cohn. Markets rattled as the Wall Street titan said he’ll leave President Donald Trump’s team in the coming weeks after his free trade agenda took a blow with Trump’s announcement of high new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Cohn nearly resigned before, after Trump’s infamous comments about white nationalist protests in Charlottesville last August, but he was persuaded to stay and is credited with helping push the Republicans’ $1.5 trillion tax bill last year. Campaign adviser Larry Kudlow has been floated as a possible replacement.

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    Justice Department Sues California Over ‘Sanctuary’ Policies

    Last year, California passed three laws aimed at protecting immigrants. One prohibits businesses from aiding federal agents searching for undocumented workers, while another stops local law enforcement from alerting them when detainees are released. A third created a state inspection program for immigrant detention centers. But now the Trump administration is suing the state, claiming the statutes obstruct federal immigration policy. Gov. Jerry Brown called the suit a “stunt” — but it’s also seen as a warning to other states pursuing similar legislation to derail the administration’s crackdown on immigrants.

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    North Korea Seeks ‘Heartfelt Dialogue’ With US as Tensions Simmer

    Despite longstanding acrimony between President Trump and Kim Jong Un, South Korean delegates in Pyongyang said North Korea is willing to negotiate with the U.S. — and to denuclearize if certain assurances are made. Pyongyang hasn’t confirmed or denied those terms yet, but U.S. officials expressed cautious optimism. Meanwhile, the State Department issued new sanctions against North Korea, echoing Malaysia’s year-old conclusion that Pyongyang used chemical weapon VX, a nerve agent, to murder Kim’s half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, in February 2017.

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    Sri Lanka Declares State of Emergency Over Religious Violence

    Soldiers have been deployed across the island for an initial 10-day period in an attempt to quell recent unrest between Sinhalese and Muslim communities in Sri Lanka’s second-largest city, Kandy. The violence began Saturday, reportedly when a taxi carrying four Muslims collided with a van driven by a Sinhalese Buddhist, who was beaten and died in the hospital. The four men were arrested, but scores of houses, shops and mosques have been burned and at least one man has died as government officials call for calm.


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    German Far-Right Politicians Visit Syria to Assess Violence

    In a bizarre fact-finding mission, lawmakers from the xenophobic AfD party are traveling around the war-torn country to determine if the conflict’s as bad as the German press says. While claiming it’s not connected to their legislative attempts to send Syrian refugees back home, party officials — who are staying in “safe” areas and meeting with allies of President Bashar Assad — said life in Damascus seemed pleasantly normal. Recent government bombardment in a Damascus suburb has killed 800 people in the last three weeks.

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    Fyre Festival Organizer Pleads Guilty to Fraud

    That’s what happens when you play with fire. Billy McFarland promised investors last year his music festival in the Bahamas would be “life-changing,” but festivalgoers rebelled when they arrived for a weekend of Blink-182 and gourmet meals to find the acts were canceled and they were served cheese sandwiches. Now McFarland, who raised $26 million to stage the event, admits he falsified documents and defrauded 80 investors. That could mean decades in prison and a $300,000 fine for the promoter, who says he got in over his head.

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    How Malawi’s Labor Reform Could Backfire

    Hoping to tackle 23 percent youth unemployment and an underutilization of the country’s available labor, Malawi has launched an ambitious technical training program — but experts warn that it could just mean skilled workers seek their fortunes elsewhere. The country’s enrollment in vocational programs and public universities is far below the average for an African nation. Despite efforts to change that, officials have yet to lay a clear bureaucratic and legal framework allowing graduates to get loans, start businesses and succeed at home — which means they may choose life abroad instead.

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    Sale of Weinstein Company Falls Apart Again

    The $500 million deal to purchase the company once headed by disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein is likely dead — for good this time. The potential buyers, led by Maria Contreras-Sweet and Ron Burkle, called it off after reportedly discovering at least $50 million in additional liabilities. The Weinstein board, which is now expected to start bankruptcy proceedings this month, blasted the would-be buyers for not following through on the deal. Meanwhile, New York’s attorney general continues to pursue a civil lawsuit against the Weinstein brothers and the firm’s board.

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    Steve Kerr Says Undrafted Players Should Return to School

    It’d be a game changer. The Golden State Warriors head coach urged the NCAA to “do what’s best for the kid” and alter rules that currently mean non-senior student players who enter the draft pool must end their college careers. Instead, Kerr said schools should let unsigned players return to college ball. NBA commissioner Adam Silver is reportedly considering alternate paths for 18-year-olds to join the league — another sign that the recent FBI sting, which uncovered bribes in ostensibly unpaid college basketball, is forcing change.