The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Trump Replacing Veteran Affairs Secretary With Personal Physician 

    The last Obama-administration holdover, David Shulkin, will be replaced amid reports over misuse of taxpayer funds. Iraq war veteran and White House physician Ronny Jackson is now set to head the second-largest federal bureaucracy. He previously gave a glowing review of the president’s physical and mental health during a press conference in January. The outing continues an administration shake-up that’s included top advisors and the secretary of state. While campaigning Trump called the VA “corrupt” and promised to expand access to doctors for veterans.

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    North Korean Leader Meets With Chinese President

    China says Kim Jong Un not only made an appearance in Beijing, but he pledged to denuclearize and to attend a meeting with President Donald Trump. North Korean state media confirmed the visit, but not the promises. Kim, in his first known visit to another country since taking power in 2011, is thought to be strengthening relations with China ahead of planned meetings with South Korean and American leaders. Meanwhile, satellite images show a new nuclear reactor coming online in North Korea, though the country insists it’s merely for generating electricity.

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    Officers Won’t Be Charged in Shooting of Alton Sterling

    Louisiana officials say there will be no charges for the two white policemen who killed Sterling in 2016 — a shooting that sparked demonstrations throughout Baton Rouge at the time. The officers maintain that they believed Sterling, who was pinned down, was reaching for a handgun. Authorities are preparing for protests in response to the decision. Meanwhile, California’s attorney general says the state will investigate the death of Stephon Clark, who was gunned down in his grandmother’s backyard by police who say they mistook his cell phone for a gun.

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    States File Suit Against Planned Census Change

    It won’t add up. New York and California have filed separate suits, joined by at least 10 other states, to stop the Trump administration from including a question about citizenship on the 2020 census. They claim the effort, which the White House says will “protect voters,” is unconstitutional and will hamper an accurate count, arguing it will discourage participation from immigrants who fear the data may be used against them. Some note that the information is already being collected via the American Community Survey. Meanwhile, census preparations are already well behind schedule.

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    Saudi Arabia, SoftBank Join Forces on Huge Solar Project

    Here comes the sun. SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son and Saudi Arabia’s crown prince have signed a $200 billion deal to create solar parks, which will generate 200 gigawatts of energy within the kingdom by 2030 — equal to 50 percent of all the solar power currently generated globally. That’ll allow Saudi Arabia, one of the sunniest countries in the world, to run more on renewables and export its oil to other nations. Son, meanwhile, has been an outspoken proponent of renewable energy options since the Fukushima nuclear disaster.


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    Dozens of Lost Villages Discovered in the Amazon

    Though previous estimates of the jungle’s population in pre-Columbian times stood at about 2 million, new research suggests it was closer to 10 million. Challenging ideas of the rain forest as largely wilderness, archaeologists have found evidence that 1 million people could have lived in a series of interconnected fortified villages in Southern Amazonia. Using satellite imagery, scientists identified 24 potential ancient earthworks that were later confirmed by an expedition. They estimate the region holds about 1,300 geoglyphs and villages, two-thirds of which have yet to be explored.

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    Facebook CEO to Testify Before Congress

    He’s got some explaining to do. Following calls from both sides of the Atlantic to answer for the company’s failure to protect user data, Mark Zuckerberg will reportedly testify on Capitol Hill in the coming weeks, though he’s refused to appear before Britain’s Parliament. He’ll testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and at least two Senate committees have requested his presence. While Facebook shares fell another 2.8 percent Tuesday, Zuckerberg’s compliance is being taken as a sign that the social network recognizes the gravity of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

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    Czech Government Backs Anti-‘Czexit’ Legislation

    Not on their watch. Prague’s minority government is taking steps to restrain would-be separatists in the Central European country where euroskepticism has grown in recent years. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who’s flirted with building a coalition with the far-right in order to form a government, hopes to avoid a Brexit-style scenario via the National Referendum Act. The bill — which would require at least 850,000 signatures to call a referendum and support from more than 50 percent of eligible voters to approve it — now heads to Parliament.

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    Egyptian Leaders Are Co-opting the Arab Spring’s Street Art

    Don’t call it a comeback. After a ban on the ubiquitous political graffiti found on Egyptian streets during 2011’s protests, some artists are creating again — but this time with government approval. The new art has also lost some bite: Often stripped of its previous political messaging, it instead focuses on more innocuous cultural and commercial subjects with only nods to nonpartisan social issues. Meanwhile, Egyptians are voting this week in a sparse contest that’s expected to award President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi another term.

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    MSU Dean Charged With Sexual Misconduct

    During his time at Michigan State University, Dr. Larry Nassar — who’s been accused of sexually abusing scores of female patients — was supervised by William Strampel, who once dismissed allegations against Nassar by saying, “Patients lie to get doctors in trouble.” But charges filed yesterday against Strampel aren’t just about what may have been going on under his nose: Strampel himself is accused of sexual harassment and sexual assault, and his computer reportedly contained a video of Nassar performing “treatment” on one of his patients. Bond has been set at $25,000.