The Presidential Daily Brief


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    North Korea Cancels Talks With South, Questions US Summit

    The North Korean government has reportedly canceled high-level talks with South Korea over Seoul’s ongoing military exercises with the U.S. South Korean media reported Pyongyang’s state news agency as saying the air combat drills — called Max Thunder — are a “provocation” that threaten the improving ties between the two neighbors. The regime also threatened to cancel their upcoming summit with Trump, currently set for June 12, over demands they unilaterally give up nuclear weapons. The State Department says it has no new information to suggest that plans have changed.

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    Gaza Reels After Soldiers Kill Scores of Protesters

    In the area’s deadliest day since 2014, officials said 58 Palestinians were killed and 2,700 wounded yesterday as Israeli security forces fired on tens of thousands of Gaza demonstrators. Today, hospitals struggled to cope with the casualties. The protest and the U.S. embassy’s controversial move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem were timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding, which displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in 1948. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Every country has an obligation to defend its borders,” while Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas announced three days of mourning.

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    Trump, China Near Deal Over ZTE and Tariffs

    The U.S. and China are reportedly zeroing in on an agreement that would remove sanctions on struggling Chinese telecom giant ZTE — which all but shuttered after being cut off from buying key American components — in exchange for China dropping tariffs on U.S. agricultural products. Beijing’s chief economic negotiator, Liu He, arrives in Washington today to continue talks. Meanwhile, the Chinese government extended a $500 million loan to a Trump-linked project in Indonesia, which will feature a golf course and hotels bearing the U.S. president’s name.

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    Shiite Cleric’s Alliance Projected to Win Iraq Election

    With 91 percent of the vote counted, a coalition led by hard-line populist Muqtada al-Sadr has likely managed a surprise victory in Iraq’s parliamentary elections, which largely focused on corruption. Al-Sadr is known as a strong nationalist whose Mahdi Army once fought American occupation troops, and as a major critic of Iran’s influence in the region. He can’t become prime minister himself, but his leadership is likely to heavily influence whoever is chosen — though negotiations are expected to be complex and last for at least two weeks.

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    Seattle Passes Tax on Big Firms to Ease Housing Crisis

    They’re hitting Amazon close to home. The company, Seattle’s largest employer, had threatened to stop construction on a downtown tower if the city passed a planned $500-per-employee tax. Many point to the rise of huge international companies like Amazon and Starbucks as the cause of Seattle’s rising house prices and increased homelessness. In the end, the city council scaled back: Its new tax costs companies $275 per worker, and the anticipated $48 million a year in funding will go toward building affordable housing and battling homelessness.

  6. Tesla, Melania and the Cannes Film Festival

    Know This: Elon Musk says Tesla is undergoing “reorganization” of management structure. First lady Melania Trump underwent kidney surgery for a benign condition yesterday and is reportedly recovering. And more than 100 people walked out of Lars Von Trier’s new film, The House That Jack Built, during a screening at the Cannes Film Festival, largely due to scenes of child murder and duckling mutilation.

    Remember This Number: $157.2 million. That’s how much Amedeo Modigliani’s “Nu Couché (Sur Le Côté Gauche),” painted in 1917, sold for yesterday at Sotheby’s — far from the most expensive painting ever auctioned, but the one with the highest guarantee, a minimum price backed by a third party who collects part of any proceeds exceeding the guarantee.

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    Expert: Flight MH370 Was Intentionally Crashed

    He thinks he’s solved it. Canadian investigator Larry Vance, who’s about to publish a book on the 2014 disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines flight, claims it was a deliberate mass murder-suicide by the pilot. Appearing on 60 Minutes Australia, Vance — whose conclusions are supported by some other investigators — sparred with air safety professionals who say there’s still doubt about whether the pilot had control of the plane when it crashed into the Indian Ocean. The pilot’s family, meanwhile, says investigators should find the plane before drawing conclusions.

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    Uber Turned Down Michael Cohen After Election

    “I have the best relationship with the president on the outside, and you need to hire me.” That’s what Trump’s fixer told Uber in 2016 when offering his consulting services, according to a new Wall Street Journal report. The company passed, citing his business of leasing New York taxi medallions as a conflict of interest. But Cohen didn’t give up, reminding Uber he was the “president’s lawyer.” Companies like AT&T and Novartis did take him up on similar offers. Cohen is now under federal criminal investigation for possible campaign finance violations.

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    Scientists Transfer ‘Memories’ Between Sea Snails

    Snailed it. UCLA researchers transplanted RNA — which serves as a molecular blueprint — from sea snails that had been given electric shocks into a control group. They found that the RNA recipients behaved more cautiously, with similar muscle movements to the shocked snails. The scientists say that transferring basic recollections suggests that memories could be made and stored in RNA rather than the synapses between neurons. And because snails’ cell structure is similar to humans, the research team believes the experiment could spark new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and PTSD.

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    Pioneering Author Tom Wolfe Dies at 88

    He had the right stuff. The hugely influential journalist, whose celebrated books include The Bonfire of the Vanities, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and The Right Stuff, died Monday in a Manhattan hospital. His nonfiction work laid the foundation for a genre that came to be known as New Journalism, using deep reporting and colorful writing to bring readers fascinating and diverse stories — from America’s first astronauts to the burgeoning West Coast counterculture scene of the 1960s. Wolfe is survived by his wife, Sheila, and two children.

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    Legalized Sports Betting Could Launch a Media Revolution

    Expect some new players on the field. Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court opened up the opportunity for sports gambling to states outside of Nevada — and new media ventures like Barstool Sports and Action Network are poised to jump into the betting pool. Their pitch: Serve up data to fans, who’ll use it to win cash — and gain a deeper understanding of their sport. With new gambling legislation already introduced in at least a dozen states, companies are betting big on a data-craving younger generation raised on fantasy sports.