The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Feds Charge Russian Woman in Election Meddling

    Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, 44, from St. Petersburg, was charged in connection to an information campaign aimed at spreading “distrust towards candidates for U.S. political office and the U.S. political system,” according to federal prosecutors. Khusyaynova allegedly managed millions for a company owned by a Russian oligarch previously indicted for interfering in the 2016 presidential election. The money financed activities like U.S. based social media advertising, buying Internet domain names and promoting news stories across social networks, while seizing on divisions in American politics. No one else was named in court documents.


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    Trump Threatens Repercussions Over Khashoggi Killing

    President Donald Trump said it was “a little bit early” to draw conclusions about who killed dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared after entering Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul this month. Trump warned the U.S. response would be “very severe” if the Saudi government was proven responsible. Meanwhile, Turkish officials have expanded their search for Khashoggi’s body and are testing DNA samples from consular buildings. They’ve named Saudi intelligence officer Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a member of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s entourage, as playing a “pivotal role” in Khashoggi’s assassination.

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    Chinese Growth Slows Amid Trade Tensions

    Clocking a third-quarter growth rate of just 6.5 percent, China posted its slowest pace of economic expansion since the global financial crisis. Both factory output and consumption weakened, prompting Chinese financial authorities to soothe investor concerns by claiming recent “abnormal fluctuations” in the country’s stock markets don’t reflect China’s otherwise “stable” economy. The ongoing trade war between Beijing and Washington has led to sell-offs in domestic stocks, though Vice Premier Liu He has insisted “the psychological impact is bigger than the actual impact.”

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    EU Signals Support for Post-Brexit Cushion

    Yesterday European Council President Donald Tusk said the bloc would accept Prime Minister Theresa May’s request for an extended post-Brexit transition period. But the extension, aimed at buying time for negotiating a trade deal, would keep the U.K. economically tied to the bloc — without having any influence over it — until 2021, drawing anger from MPs on both sides of the debate. EU leaders said they would back May in seeking support beyond her own party and building a “coalition of the reasonable” in Parliament to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

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    Justice Department Probes Pennsylvania Clergy Abuse

    In a significant boost in scrutiny of the Roman Catholic Church, the federal government is reportedly investigating sexual abuse by clergymen in at least seven dioceses across the Keystone State. Coming two months after the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office released a report claiming church leaders had covered up the abuse of more than 1,000 people over seven decades, it’s believed to be the first federal probe into the church for such crimes. One expert called the move “groundbreaking,” adding that the U.S. government has traditionally been “utterly silent” on the matter.

  6. Migrants, Tesla and the PDB Quiz

    Know This: A 3,000-person migrant caravan has massed at the Guatemala-Mexico border amid threats from President Trump that he’ll close the U.S. frontier with Mexico if it allows them to advance. Tesla has introduced a $45,000 Model 3 sedan — its most inexpensive vehicle yet. And an Australian woman has been arrested for allegedly crowdsourcing tens of thousands of dollars by falsely claiming she was suffering from cancer.

    Try This: Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB Quiz.

    Tune In: What happens when 100 Black men gather to discuss the most pressing issues of the day? The answer may surprise you. Don’t miss OZY’s fourth primetime show, Take On America, then join the conversation on Facebook and YouTube to give your #takeonamerica.


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    UK Experts: Memes May Lead to Obesity

    A group of British academics has warned a parliamentary committee that social media — including memes like one featuring an overweight child with the caption “Free food? Count me in!” — could be fueling unhealthy eating habits among teens by making light of them. In addition to “normalizing unhealthy behaviors,” the researchers say social media also fosters a widespread sense of apathy regarding health and well-being. They claim users on platforms like Facebook and Twitter regularly share content displaying “little, if any, emotion.”

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    EBay Sues Amazon for Poaching Sellers

    In a complaint filed this week in a California court, the internet auction site detailed an alleged scheme by the online retailer to steal eBay’s top sellers, causing it “irreparable harm.” Tipped off by one of its own sellers, the company claims Amazon employees used fake eBay accounts for years to send messages to users promoting Amazon as an alternate platform — a move eBay says is a violation of its user agreement. It’s demanding “monetary relief” from Amazon, which has not commented on the suit.

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    Japan’s Cherry Blossoms Are Blooming Early

    They’re tickled pink. Hundreds of people across the country have reported seeing the buds — which typically bloom in early spring — appearing on trees this week. Experts believe last month’s Typhoon Jebi confused the trees by stripping their leaves, which contain a hormone that stops buds from blossoming, while recent warm temperatures have also contributed to the early bloom. One tree expert said this has happened before, though on a smaller scale, but he doesn’t anticipate it will affect the spring’s cherry blossom viewing, which draws throngs of tourists to Japan.

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    Banksy Says Shredding Prank Failed

    Better luck next time. The elusive street artist captured headlines this month when his famous Girl With Balloon painting dramatically half-shredded itself after being sold at a London auction for $1.4 million. But Banksy has posted a new video — featuring a title screen reading, “In rehearsals it worked every time…” — that shows how the painting should have been destroyed completely. The buyer decided to keep the partly shredded piece, now called Love Is in the Bin, which Sotheby’s has claimed is the first artwork ever created during an auction.

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    Red Sox Beat Astros to Earn World Series Berth

    After 108 regular season wins, the franchise has clinched the American League pennant, beating the defending World Series champions 4-1 in ALCS Game 5 yesterday. Boston’s win was largely credited to David Price, who pitched on three days’ rest but still struck out nine batters in six scoreless innings, allowing Houston only three hits. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Dodgers are one win away from knocking out the Milwaukee Brewers in NLCS Game 6 today. The Red Sox will host World Series Game 1 at Fenway Park on Tuesday.