The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Physicist Stephen Hawking Dead at 76

    Physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76, a spokesperson for the Hawking family said early Wednesday. Hawking’s work in physics led to the publication of A Brief History of Time in 1988, an unexpected best-seller which catapulted the scientist to fame for the rest of his life. At the age of 21, Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease which eventually saw him confined to a wheelchair but not before dedicating his life to the study of the universe. He is survived by children Lucy, Robert and Tim who said in a statement: “His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world.”



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    Every Vote Counts In Tight Pennsylvania Race

    It’s a close one. Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone is fighting off Democrat challenger Conor Lamb in a House district vote Tuesday, with a recount looking possible as Lamb moves ahead on 49.9 percent to Saccone’s 49.5 percent. Pro-gun and pro-union Lamb leads by less than 1000 votes in the Pittsburgh adjacent district, sending shivers down the spines of Republicans elsewhere in the country ahead of November midterms. The district swings but favors Republicans, and went hard red for Trump in 2016, with Rep. Tim Murphy vacating the seat late last year over an affair scandal.



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    Trump Ousts Tillerson as Secretary of State

    In a surprise morning announcement, President Donald Trump said he’ll seek to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA director Mike Pompeo. Tillerson’s ouster follows months of speculation over the former Exxon Mobile CEO’s relationship with the president, who publicly undercut his top diplomat on numerous occasions, including on Russia and North Korea. If confirmed, Pompeo will be replaced by his deputy at the CIA, Gina Haspel — potentially the agency’s first female leader. “Congratulations to all!” Trump tweeted.

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    House GOP Probe Finds No Russian Collusion

    Over Democrats’ objections and despite special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation, the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee has concluded its probe into Russian election meddling. It determined there was no collusion from the Trump campaign and that the Kremlin did not aim to help him, contradicting the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies. President Donald Trump tweeted his all-caps vindication, while committee Democrats complained that key witnesses and records hadn’t been subpoenaed. Meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Committee is expected to issue a report on its own investigation in the near future.

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    UK Gives Putin Midnight Deadline to Explain Spy Attack

    British Prime Minister Theresa May said it was “highly likely” that Russia was behind last week’s nerve agent attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in a small British city. May’s promised to debut tough new measures if Russian President Vladimir Putin, who denies involvement, doesn’t explain before midnight tonight how the chemical agent, apparently manufactured in Russia, came to be used in a Salisbury restaurant. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson offered U.S. support — even as some wondered if President Trump will willingly confront Putin.

  6. A Special Election, a Shark Tooth and Stormy Daniels

    Know This: A special congressional election in Pennsylvania is being closely monitored for what it might portend about this year’s midterm elections. A French singer who beat his girlfriend to death in 2003 has pulled out of a summer festival after 70,000 people signed a petition against his appearance. And the 3-inch tooth of an ancient megashark has been stolen from a national park in Australia.

    Remember This Number: $130,000. That’s the sum porn actress Stormy Daniels said she was paid to keep quiet about an alleged 2006 affair with President Trump. She’s now offering to repay the money in exchange for freedom to speak about the encounter.

    Listen Up: Meet your next great listen for your commute. OZY’s podcast, The Thread, is back. This season, we’ll travel through nearly a century of history leading up to the #MeToo movement by profiling the original silence-breakers and the men who exploited them. Listen or subscribe for free here.


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    ‘National Geographic’ Confronts Its Own Racist Past

    They’re turning the lens inward. For its April issue on race, the venerable magazine — helmed by its first female editor, Susan Goldberg — has announced it’s reckoning with its past coverage, hiring historian John Edwin Mason to dig into its archives. Mason found that for much of its 130-year history, National Geographic didn’t adequately challenge racist stereotypes, depicting native cultures as primitive and stagnant. While past issues mainly showed the world through the eyes of white Westerners, Mason suggests the magazine would benefit from a more diverse pool of contributors.

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    Arnold Schwarzenegger to Sue Oil Companies for ‘Murder’

    Hasta la vista, BP. In a new interview, the bodybuilder-turned-governor-turned-environmental activist pledged to take private oil companies to court over their role in accelerating global warming. Schwarzenegger, who’s still lining up a legal team, promises to dig in “like an Alabama tick,” arguing that any product using fossil fuels should carry a warning label. He lamented that conservation efforts championed by previous Republican leaders are now seen as taboo by many in his party. Schwarzenegger will host an environmental conference in his native Austria in May.

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    Fewer Murders in Rich Countries, But More Female Victims

    Worldwide, female victims account for 16 percent of violent deaths outside of conflict zones. But in a few countries, largely in rich areas with low murder rates, women make up a far higher proportion: In Western Europe, 44 percent, in Australia and New Zealand, 36 percent. In a few countries, including Austria, Switzerland and Japan, women account for more than half of victims. One explanation is that even in countries with low murder rates, domestic violence remains, and 38 percent of female victims are killed by their partners.

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    Fashion Icon Hubert de Givenchy Dies at 91

    The legendary French designer — known for outfitting icons like Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy — died in his sleep Saturday, according to his partner. A well-mannered aristocrat who befriended many of his famous clients, the 6-foot-6 Givenchy, known as “Le Grand Hubert,” became a household name through his eponymous fashion house. It described him in a statement Monday as “a gentleman who symbolized Parisian chic and elegance.” After selling his label in 1988 for $45 million, Givenchy remained its chief creative designer before retiring in 1995.

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    Venus Beats Serena at Indian Wells

    For the first time since 2014, Venus Williams defeated younger sister Serena, taking her down 6-3, 6-4 in the Indian Wells Masters third round yesterday in Palm Springs. The match is the sisters’ 29th since first facing off 20 years ago, and their first at Indian Wells — where they were supposed to play each other in 2001, until Venus withdrew with an injury. After Serena was booed and subjected to racial slurs from the crowd, both sisters boycotted the tournament until 2015. Venus will play Anastasija Sevastova Tuesday afternoon.