The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty to Fraud

    President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and personal fixer has surrendered himself to the FBI in New York City, where he pleaded guilty to federal charges of bank fraud, tax fraud and campaign finance violations. Whether it means he’ll cooperate in special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe into the Trump campaign remains unclear. But Cohen, who arranged hush money for women claiming to have had affairs with Trump, recently suggested his onetime loyalty to the president has since faded. “I put family and country first,” he said last month.

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    Paul Manafort Found Guilty of Financial Crimes

    A Virginia jury has found the embattled ex-chairman of President Donald Trump’s campaign guilty on eight counts of financial crimes, representing the first major legal victory for special counsel Robert Mueller. Combined, the counts reportedly carry a potential 80-year stint behind bars — though it’s unlikely Manafort will be sentenced so severely. The jury, which deliberated for four days, couldn’t agree on 10 other counts, leading the judge to declare a mistrial. Now, observers will be wondering whether Trump will seek to pardon Manafort.

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    Microsoft: Kremlin-Linked Hackers Mimicked US Political Sites

    The computer giant says it has found and disabled six websites associated with Russian government-linked hacking group Fancy Bear, which were configured to resemble the domains of the U.S. Senate and two conservative think tanks. Microsoft, which says it’s disabled 84 fake sites linked to Fancy Bear since 2016, says there’s no evidence user information was successfully stolen via the fake addresses. The company also warned that hacking attempts like this are likely to increase as the midterm elections near and Russian operatives seek to sow division among voters.

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    Venezuela Devalues Currency, Boosts Wages Amid Meltdown

    “No experts were involved.” That’s what Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said of his new plan to raise taxes, take five zeros off the currency (renamed the sovereign bolívar) and hike the minimum wage some 3,400 percent. Around 90 percent of Venezuelans now live in poverty and the International Monetary Fund expects inflation to reach 1,000,000 percent. More than 500,000 have fled the country this year and migration to Brazil is rising even after attacks on refugee camps over the weekend. Meanwhile, opposition groups called a nationwide strike today to protest the new plan.

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    Trump Says He’s Leaning Against Mueller Interview

    Though he’s equivocated about letting special counsel Robert Mueller question him, President Trump said yesterday that he’s unlikely to do so. In a Reuters interview, he expressed concern that he’d face perjury charges, if, say, Mueller’s “friend,” fired FBI director James Comey, contradicted him. “Even if I am telling the truth, that makes me a liar,” said Trump, who added that he could “run” Mueller’s “witch hunt,” but has chosen not to. A verdict is due soon in its first trial, weighing financial crimes allegations against Trump’s ex-campaign manager Paul Manafort. 

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    Australian Leader Retains Power Despite Leadership Challenge

    He’s still on top Down Under. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has survived a challenge from a more conservative colleague. In a pre-emptive move, the premier called a vote today among Liberal Party colleagues, defeating Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, 48-35. Doubts about Turnbull’s standing come amid dissent from his conservative party’s right wing over his efforts to fight climate change. A series of unpopular policy decisions has stoked speculation that Turnbull will be toppled before the end of the year, with another challenge expected as soon as Thursday.

  7. Goats, Arctic Ice and Melania Trump

    Know This: After a pair of runaway goats on the tracks caused delays for New York subway commuters, comedian Jon Stewart transported the animals to a shelter upstate. The Arctic’s oldest, thickest sea ice, normally frozen year round, has broken up twice this year for the first time ever recorded. First Lady Melania Trump spoke out Monday against “destructive” social media. And today OZY’s Around the World campaign takes you to Costa Rica: Find out how the country maintains high happiness rankings despite rampant inequality

    He Said That: “Truth isn’t truth.” President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani was roundly mocked online for making that statement on Meet the Press Sunday, but here’s a more extensive fact check of some of his other claims. 

    We’re hiring: OZY is looking for a talented Social Media Manager to oversee our social strategy on all platforms. Could this be you? Check out the job description for more details … and find all our open jobs right here.


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    EU Plans Fines for Terrorist Content

    Under draft regulations expected next month, tech giants like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter could face financial penalties for failing to remove terrorist propaganda within an hour of its posting. “We cannot afford to relax or become complacent in the face of such a shadowy and destructive phenomenon,” EU’s security commissioner Julian King said. Currently, there are voluntary guidelines calling for platforms to quickly take down such incitement, but officials have “not seen enough progress,” King said. To become law, the rules require approval from the European Parliament and a majority of EU countries.

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    Saliva Samples Indicate Vaping Could Damage DNA

    These aren’t the secret ingredients you’ve been looking for. A University of Minnesota study has detected three DNA-damaging compounds in electronic cigarettes. Researchers also found that four of the five subjects whose saliva they examined after 15 minutes of vaping showed higher levels of damage due to acrolein, which opens the door to cancer if a cell fails to repair its genetic material. While levels of exposure to toxic chemicals differ significantly between traditional and e-cigarettes, experts say such a small study is merely a gateway to more research. 

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    Pagans in Costa Rica Want to Go Mainstream

    Amid tropical beaches and lush jungles, a network of pagan groups is finding a voice in the predominantly Catholic country. Costa Rica’s native communities have long practiced forms of animism. But since 2010, polytheistic groups have emerged across the country, connected via social media. They’ve united against discrimination and threats of violence and have even staged a Pagan Pride Day march. And now, one group has started the expensive and bureaucratic process of petitioning the government for official recognition as a faith, hoping to reap benefits now rendered unto the monotheistic majority.

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    Immigrant Kids Steal the VMA Spotlight

    “We are all human beings.” So said t-shirts worn by hundreds of immigrant children and their parents who accompanied the artist Logic onstage as he performed “One Day” during last night’s ceremonies, protesting President Trump’s border policies. Meanwhile, Camila Cabello won artist of the year (and video of the year for “Havana”), Post Malone’s “Rockstar” won best song and Cardi B was named best new artist. The opening monologue included some unsubtle jabs at the president’s online outbursts, raising the prospect of a tweetstorm as the final act.

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    Italian Football ’Ultras’ Tell Women to Stay Away

    Before their team’s first game of the season Saturday, self-described “ultras” — hardcore fans of Rome’s Lazio soccer club — distributed a leaflet telling female fans to stay out of the front 10 rows during matches, saying those rows are their “sacred space.” Their team lost 2-1 to Napoli, and Italy’s football federation chief dismissed the incident as a “bad joke.” Lazio was fined for anti-Semitism last season after fans littered their Stadio Olimpico venue with fliers depicting Holocaust diarist Anne Frank wearing a rival “Roma” jersey.