The Presidential Daily Brief

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    Trump, Roberts Trade Barbs Over ‘Obama Judge’

    Don’t rule it out. Some are wondering if an extraordinary public spat between President Donald Trump and Chief Justice John Roberts could complicate the relationship between the two branches of government. After Trump criticized the circuit judge who ruled against his asylum ban as an “Obama judge,” Roberts made a rare public statement to defend the impartiality of the judicial branch. That prompted Trump to hit back, claiming those appointed by his predecessor “have a much different point of view.” Roberts has previously remained largely silent amid Trump’s attacks on judges.

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    EU, UK Agree on Post-Brexit Cooperation

    European Council President Donald Tusk announced the two sides have jointly approved a draft declaration on how they’ll handle trade, security and other issues after Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc next year. If EU leaders sign off on the agreement and declaration at a summit this weekend, British Prime Minister Theresa May will then seek approval from her own Parliament. Back in Britain, the pound jumped 1.1 percent on the news, while May is expected to address lawmakers later today.

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    Russian Military Intelligence Agency Chief Dies

    General Igor Korobov was hailed as a “true son of Russia” after the 62-year-old GRU chief died yesterday of “a serious and long illness.” The GRU was blamed by many Western countries for orchestrating the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the U.K. in March — but the failure of that attack, which Skripal survived, led some to speculate about Korobov’s fate. His predecessor also died unexpectedly in 2016. The GRU is believed to carry out the Kremlin’s covert military operations abroad, including in eastern Ukraine and U.S. elections.

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    Exec Admits Facebook Asked PR Firm to Investigate Soros

    In a blog post yesterday, outgoing communications and policy chief Elliot Schrage said he’d hired the GOP-linked Definers Public Affairs to carry out “opposition research” on the company’s critics, particularly progressive philanthropist George Soros. Schrage said the firm helped Facebook, which he believed was “singled out for criticism,” respond to “unfair claims.” But a damning New York Times report detailing an apparent campaign to discredit Soros — as well as other dubious company practices — reflected poorly on CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg. Both denied knowing about that effort.

  5. Nissan, the Camp Fire and Denuclearization

    Know This: Nissan’s board has voted to oust disgraced Chairman Carlos Ghosn. Five people were killed and 18 injured after a car drove into a crowd of children outside a school in northeastern China. And the death toll in Northern California’s Camp Fire has reached 83. 

    Read This: As U.S. negotiations with North Korea have largely stalled in recent months, Washington has expressed concern that South Korea’s own rapprochement with its northern neighbor is leaving Washington behind — and compromising denuclearization.

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    American Missionary Killed by Isolated Tribe in India

    Police say John Allen Chau was shot with arrows after paying local fishermen to take him to the Indian-administrated North Sentinel Island, despite laws prohibiting outsiders from approaching it. The 27-year-old Christian planned to befriend the Sentinelese people, but the isolated tribe — which is thought to number around 100 and remains shielded from 21st century disease — rejects all outside contact. In 2006, they killed two Indian men who were illegally fishing in their waters. Police have arrested the men who helped Chau reach the island.

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    Why Eastern Europe’s Anti-Corruption Fighters Love Drones

    They’ve got an eye in the sky. Activists across the former Soviet Union have found a low-tech way to expose corrupt rulers — by flying drones over lavish properties owned by officials who allegedly earn meager salaries. Footage of vacation homes suspected of belonging to Russian President Vladimir Putin and a palatial property allegedly owned by Taron Margaryan, mayor of the Armenian capital Yerevan, have fueled local protests. But while finding evidence of graft from above is getting easier, converting it to legal action often remains a struggle.

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    NASA’s Mars Lander Braces for Bumpy Landing

    The InSight probe is scheduled to touch down Monday — as long as it can stop itself from violently crashing into the Martian surface. A successful landing means abruptly slowing from 12,000 mph to just 5 mph with the help of parachutes. But the Red Planet’s thin atmosphere makes that especially challenging: Only 40 percent of landings are successful. Once it has parked itself on flat land and extended its solar arrays, InSight will deploy a heat probe and a seismometer to study the planet’s geographical features and detect “Marsquakes.”

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    LFO Singer Devin Lima Dies at 41

    Lima died yesterday after a “valiant battle” with adrenal cancer, according to bandmate Brad Fischetti. He was the second member of LFO — which gained popularity in the late 1990s with hits like Summer Girls and Every Other Time — to die from cancer, after Rich Cronin succumbed to leukemia in 2010. Lima was diagnosed in October 2017 when doctors removed a large tumor from his stomach. He is survived by his partner and six children. Fischetti remembered Lima as “an extraordinary talent” and thanked fans for the “tremendous outpouring of love.”

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    LeBron James Welcomed Back to Cleveland

    Home is where the court is. Although he returned as an opponent, the basketball legend received a standing ovation in last night’s showdown between the Los Angeles Lakers and his old squad. Cleveland played a tribute video of his highlights in a Cavaliers uniform and his lasting positive impact on the local community. “It was a great moment,” James told reporters while enjoying a banana milkshake catered by his favorite Ohio burger joint. The Lakers came from behind to beat the struggling Cavs 109-105, with James posting an impressive 32 points.