The Presidential Daily Brief

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    Congress Avoids Shutdown, Passes Spending Bill

    The $1.3 trillion piece of legislation will fund the federal government through September. Funding was set to expire at midnight on Friday if the 2,232-page bill was not passed. The legislation includes increases in both military spending and domestic programs allowing members from both sides of the aisle to claim some success yet putting Republicans on the defensive about fiscal discipline. ”Got $1.6 Billion to start Wall on Southern Border, rest will be forthcoming,” tweeted President Trump. It’s expected to be the last major bill before November midterm elections.

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    John Bolton Tapped As New National Security Adviser

    The former United Nations ambassador and Fox News commentator is replacing H. R. McMaster. The general, set to retire from the military, replaced Michael Flynn last February and was seen as often at odds with President Donald Trump’s foreign policy intuitions. He pushed for not discarding the Iran nuclear deal and supported an Afghanistan troop increase — both policies Trump later supported. Bolton will take the reigns on April 9 as Trump works to stabilize his national security team before meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jung Un.

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    Trump Targets China With Punitive Tariffs

    President Trump is expected to slap sanctions on Beijing over what the White House says is China’s encouragement of intellectual property theft from American businesses. The measures, which some fear could spark a trade war between the two countries, will reportedly include up to $60 billion in tariffs on Chinese products as well as restrictions on investment. Accusing the United States of “repeatedly abusing” global trade, Beijing warned it “will not sit idly” if its interests are threatened. Wall Street shuddered in response, with the Dow dropping 724 points, the fifth-largest point decline ever. 

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    Facebook CEO ‘Sorry’ for Role in Cambridge Analytica Scandal

    “I’m really sorry this happened.” That’s what Mark Zuckerberg told CNN following days of public silence after reports that a political data firm with ties to President Donald Trump exploited over 50 million users’ personal information. Zuckerberg, who said he’d testify before Congress on the issue, expressed support for the regulation of ads and more restrictions on developers’ access to data. He also promised that the company would review thousands of apps for abuse. American and British officials have called for investigations into Facebook’s use of personal data.

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    Top Trump Lawyer Quits as President Assails Mueller

    John Dowd had reportedly considered leaving his job with President Donald Trump several times over the past few months. But his departure, announced today, coincides with Trump’s beginning to more overtly attack special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential collusion between Russian operatives and the Trump campaign. Sources say that was against Dowd’s advice, which has been to cooperate with the special investigation. It’s still unclear who will take over running the president’s legal team, though recent hire Joseph diGenova, who’s alleged that Trump was framed by the Justice Department, is a potential replacement.

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    Police Search for Motive After Austin Bomber’s Death

    Authorities still don’t know what drove 23-year-old Mark Anthony Conditt, an unemployed college dropout, to send a series of parcel bombs that killed two people and injured several more in the Texas capital over the past month. While he reportedly left behind a 25-minute video detailing the seven bombs he built, it made little mention of why he targeted his victims. Conditt, whose uncle described him as being kind and a “computer geek,” blew himself up in his vehicle early Wednesday after police tracked him down.

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    Congressional Leaders Agree on Spending Package

    They’ll split the bill. U.S. agencies could find themselves running smoothly through September after congressional leaders on Wednesday approved a $1.3 trillion deal to continue funding the federal government. The compromise aims to satisfy both Republicans and Democrats by delivering a $78 billion increase in military spending as well as an extra $52 billion for domestic programs, including veterans’ health care, opioid prevention and child care. Lawmakers will now attempt to pass the 2,232-page bill by Friday night to avoid another government shutdown. “No bill of this size is perfect,” warned House Speaker Paul Ryan.

  8. Jared Kushner, Nicolas Sarkozy and the Worst Movie Ever

    Know This: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia reportedly boasted about having White House adviser Jared Kushner “in his pocket.” Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is under investigation for allegedly receiving campaign funding from Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi. And Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, Peru’s embattled president, has offered to resign ahead of an expected impeachment vote over corruption allegations.

    Read This: Despite the enormous success of the Super Mario Bros. video game franchise, the eponymous 1993 film became a legendary Hollywood flop that enjoys a cult status today.

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    Canada Considers Stricter Gun Laws

    As the gun control debate rages in the United States, it’s spilling across the northern border. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is backing new draft legislation calling for tougher background checks, especially for those with a history of violence. Proponents say the measures, dubbed “common sense gun laws,” are aimed at stopping violence during a time of increased weapons trafficking from south of the border. Yet the National Firearms Association — Canada’s answer to the NRA — says it paves the way for the government to potentially confiscate guns from responsible owners.

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    Benin Feels Pressure From Neighboring Nigeria’s Woes

    The West African country of 11 million has long relied on commerce with its neighbor, which happens to be Africa’s largest economy. But that bond has come with risks: The Beninese economy was hit hard after Nigeria’s own downturn, resulting in protectionist economic policies such as higher import tariffs and currency devaluation. These days, only smugglers are reaping the benefits, and as Nigeria’s economy recovers at a glacial pace, Benin’s business owners aren’t counting on a return of the good old days.

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    Teen Undergoes First Gene Therapy for Blindness

    The solution’s in plain sight. At a Boston hospital Tuesday, 13-year-old Jack Hogan received the first ever FDA-approved gene therapy for an inherited disease. Doctors injected a healthy copy of the gene that makes an essential light-processing enzyme into Hogan’s retina, potentially saving him from blindness — and buoying his hopes of playing baseball and lacrosse. In the procedure’s clinical trials, 27 out of 29 patients were able to see better in dim light. While the treatment costs $850,000 for both eyes, its manufacturer is offering refunds if it doesn’t work.

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    Fleetwood Mac, Run-DMC Added to National Recording Registry

    Among the 25 recordings added yesterday to the special collection of the Library of Congress were Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours,” Run-DMC’s “Raising Hell,” “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins and Chic’s “Le Freak.” Also honored in the annual induction — which librarian Carla Hayden said “reminds us of our varied and remarkable American experience” — were Tony Bennett, Arlo Guthrie, Groucho Marx and Gloria Estefan. Of the nearly 3 million recordings the library currently holds, the registry is home to 500 works recognized for their cultural, historical, or aesthetic significance.

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    Boris Johnson Compares Russia’s World Cup to Nazi Olympics

    The British foreign secretary suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin would use the upcoming tournament to stoke nationalist fervor, just as Adolf Hitler did during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Relations between the two countries have worsened since a former Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned on British soil earlier this month, prompting the U.K. to expel 23 Russian diplomats. Moscow’s foreign ministry said Johnson’s comparison was “unacceptable.” Meanwhile, FIFA says a stadium in host city Samara requires “a huge amount of work” to be ready in time for the tournament.