The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Theresa May Wins EU Leaders’ Brexit Plan Vote

    “It is a sad moment. It is a tragedy.” That’s how European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker greeted the unanimous vote by leaders of 27 remaining European Union nations establishing the bloc’s trade and other relationships with Britain after it relinquishes EU membership March 29. But today’s Brussels vote was a small obstacle compared to the difficulty U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May faces in winning parliamentary approval back home. May’s ex-foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, labeled the deal “complete nonsense.” It must also be approved by the European Parliament and European Council.

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    Russia Fires on, Seizes Ukrainian Vessels

    In an escalation of the four-year conflict over eastern Ukraine, Russia’s navy fired upon Ukrainian vessels in the Azov Sea and admitted to seizing three “warships” Sunday. Russia said the vessels, one of which Ukraine said was a tugboat, taken near the Crimean peninsula Moscow annexed in 2014, illegally entered its territorial waters. Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko called Moscow’s actions, which included blocking the only Azov Sea exit with a tanker ship, “unprovoked and crazy.” Kiev has asked for international action against Russia and for the U.N. Security Council to address the incident.

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    Migrant Clash Prompts California Border Closure

    U.S. border agents clashed with Central American migrants trying to cross the border Sunday after hundreds of asylum-seekers bypassed a Mexican police blockade and rushed the busy border terminal at San Ysidro. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers fired tear gas to repel the migrants from the border fence, causing some to fall off the fence and smoke to waft into Mexico. The normally busy crossing leads into San Diego. The clash came amid conflicting reports of Mexico agreeing to house asylum seekers south of the border while U.S. claims are processed.

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    Federal Climate Report Warns of Dire U.S. Impacts

    The 13-agency assessment finds climate change will hit Americans hard, despite President Donald Trump’s dismissal of such warnings. Reportedly released unimpeded by that skepticism, the report says extreme heat, droughts, flooding, tropical disease-bearing insects and wildfires like those still burning in California will slow workers, stunt agriculture, curtail trade and shrink the economy before 2100, costing some $291 billion. The Midwest would be the hardest hit, suffering 2,000 premature deaths annually by 2090. The second of two volumes, Friday’s report says impacts could be mitigated by controlling emissions and subsidizing clean-energy research.

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    Could Mississippi Elect a Black Democratic Senator?

    Odds are against an Alabama-style upset. But not for lack of trying by both Mike Espy, President Bill Clinton’s scandal-bruised agriculture secretary, and his Republican opponent, appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who stirred controversy by using a phrase that makes light of hanging in a state notorious for racist lynchings. Hyde-Smith has double-digit polling leads in Tuesday’s special election runoff to replace retired Sen. Thad Cochran, but her contentious remark might inspire more Black voters — a third of the electorate — to narrow that gap.

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    Your Lender Gets Everything. You Have No Rights

    Small business owners nationwide have lost assets in a New York minute under an obscure clause pushed by lenders and enforced in Empire State courts. Financers offering high-interest cash advances get unwitting borrowers to sign a “confession of judgment” that gives lenders an automatic win in court if they claim — even fraudulently — that the borrowers have defaulted. Without proof of a broken contract, courts quickly order banks to empty borrowers’ accounts. And with New York marshals collecting 5 percent on each decision, there’s not much incentive for justice.

  7. Mars Mission, Caravan Insurance and Facebook’s Secret Papers

    The Week Ahead: On Monday, NASA’s InSight spacecraft is scheduled to slam into the Martian atmosphere, then land on the Red Planet after a six-month journey. President Trump and the first lady will light the National Christmas Tree on Wednesday. On Friday, the leaders of 20 industrialized nations will meet for the two-day the G-20 Summit in Argentina.

    Know This: U.S. officials are reportedly in talks with Mexico, which might house asylum seekers on its side of the border to facilitate the Trump administration’s revamped immigration procedures. Investigating the proliferation of social media disinformation campaigns, British parliamentary authorities have compelled a contractor to surrender confidential Facebook documents. And French President Emmanuel Macron has condemned some of the 100,000 demonstrators who protested higher diesel taxes Saturday because they threw cobblestones at police.

    We’re hiring: OZY is looking for a talented business reporter and editor to anchor our globally minded finance coverage, based in either Silicon Valley or New York. Could this be you? Check out the job description for more details … and find all our open jobs right here.


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    Could Its Sky-High Guru Ground SpaceX?

    They weren’t ready for the spaced cowboy. Aircraft giant Boeing and Elon Musk’s cosmic exploration firm SpaceX were both hired by NASA to put American astronauts into orbit for the first time since the space shuttle was retired in 2011. But Musk’s widely ridiculed pot-smoking, whiskey-drinking appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast in September reportedly “rankled some at NASA’s highest levels.” The agency is now reviewing both companies’ workplace culture, casting doubt on the ambitious project and raising questions about how increasingly legalized marijuana use fits into society.

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    How an ‘Environmental’ US Policy Spawned Climate Calamity

    The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act pushed biodiesel as an eco-friendly fuel additive, but domestic farmland couldn’t slake America’s vegetable oil thirst. Soon companies in Indonesia began slashing and burning rainforest for oil palm plantations. In 2015 those fires burned out of control, and blazing carbon-rich forests spiked CO2 levels, causing 100,000 premature deaths. Meanwhile, as Indonesia’s carbon emissions eclipse all of Europe’s, producers’ choke hold on land and local politics grows. And in the U.S., activists’ warnings remain unheeded: Even top Democrats still tout the legislation’s success.

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    Ridesharing Drivers Battle the No-Win Scenario

    Sometimes the winning move is not playing. A student of labor issues, Sarah Mason paid attention while schlepping 2,200 fares for Lyft. She found herself irrationally motivated to work extra hours — even under risky conditions — to reap rewards as simple as getting better ratings, which don’t provide extra pay, or meeting ride quotas despite diminishing bonuses. Such gamification of work environments, Mason writes, is a proven motivator. But some fellow drivers are shutting down their apps en masse to stimulate surge pricing — and gaming the algorithms right back.

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    The Rise of the Bread Bros

    Neglected since Americans began hating carbs in the 1990s, bread baking is back. This time, techies are eschewing old-fashioned artisanal methods, instead engineering their sourdough using custom ovens and home-ground flour, all the while monitoring the process from kneading to baking with laser thermometers. Meanwhile, they’re leavening their labors with the trappings of masculinity, digitally high-fiving over other dough bros’ creations. Despite their procedures being meticulously mapped out online, these disruptive chefs say baking helps them escape the artificial world of coding to awaken their primal human selves.

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    When Online Taunts Are Backed by Actual Fists

    With a more connected world comes more opportunity to bring people together — to pummel each other into a bloody pulp. Fighters are increasingly turning to Wild West showdowns to demonstrate true grit, from taking on martial arts senseis to proving whether hapkido is better than jiu jitsu. While amateurs gain props on video sites like World Star Hip Hop, dojos earn free guerrilla marketing by taking on challengers. As long as somebody’s willing to take a beating, someone else will probably watch it online.