The Presidential Daily Brief


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    French Premier Vows ‘Unity’ as  Protests Resume

    Nearly 90,000 police occupied the streets of Paris and other French cities Saturday during a fourth, but more subdued weekend of “Yellow Vests” protests that had become increasingly violent. An estimated 125,000 demonstrators upset with the country’s higher taxes and President Emmanuel Macron periodically clashed with police, who fired tear gas and rubber bullets. Some 1,700 people were arrested, and Prime Minister Édouard Philippe pledged continued talks with demonstrators to “restore national unity.” President Trump chimed in on Twitter to mock Macron’s climate-change motivated fuel tax hikes, claiming that protesters were chanting, “We want Trump.”

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    Court Papers Say Trump Ordered Illegal Payments

    While special counsel Robert Mueller’s sentencing memo for President Donald Trump’s ex-attorney, Michael Cohen, revealed he was offered “political synergy” with the Kremlin in 2015, federal prosecutors in New York directly implicated the chief executive in a crime. Their separate Cohen sentencing recommendation says the candidate directed hush money payments to two women alleging affairs with Trump, violating campaign finance law. Mueller’s memo urges leniency, but the New York filing seeks as much as five years imprisonment when Cohen is sentenced Wednesday. Trump’s reaction was concise: “Totally clears the President. Thank you!”

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    President: Kelly Out, UN Ambassador, AG Tapped

    President Trump on Friday named State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert to fill departing Nikki Haley’s U.N. seat. Nauert’s been a co-host of “Fox and Friends,” known to influence the president’s agenda. To replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions, forced out just after midterm elections, the president tapped William Barr, who occupied the same post under President George H.W. Bush in 1991 and 1992. Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayres, may also get a call, as he tops the replacement list for Chief of Staff John Kelly, whom Trump says will leave by year’s end.

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    America Bids Farewell to George H.W. Bush

    He was the Greatest Generation’s last leader. The 41st president’s funeral train arrived in Texas, where he was buried Thursday at his presidential library in College Station. In death, Bush brought President Trump together with four predecessors, including George W. Bush, the 43rd commander in chief, who delivered a tearful eulogy at his father’s Washington funeral on Wednesday. Not laid to rest was Bush’s legacy: foreign policy triumphs, domestic failures and his willingness to serve, as a Navy pilot and as a leader during a tumultuous era.

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    Don’t Blame Millennials for a Shaky Economy

    It’s not about style, it’s about poverty. By purchasing fewer cars and houses, millennials’ penchant for the temporary has been blamed for slowing the U.S. economy. But according to a new report by the Federal Reserve, that’s inaccurate. Those born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s don’t actually have different consumption preferences compared with those of earlier generations, research shows. What they do have is less wealth, more college debt and higher housing costs. No wonder millennials differ in their politics, being more likely to support redistributive economic policies.

  6. Brexit Showdown, Climate Denial and Charlottesville Conviction

    The Week Ahead: Nobel Prizes are to be given to laureates at ceremonies Monday in Stockholm and Oslo. British Prime Minister Theresa May faces a hostile Parliament Tuesday, when she’s planning to submit her Brexit plan for a vote. And that day Google CEO Sundar Pichai is to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on the search giant’s handling of user data.

    Know This: The international conference on climate change in Poland wanted to “welcome” a dire October U.N. report on worsening conditions, but the move was blocked by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait. A Charlottesville, Virginia, jury has convicted white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr. of first-degree murder for fatally running down Heather Heyer amid counterdemonstrations during the August 2017 Unite the Right rally in the city. And University of Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray has won the Heisman Trophy.

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    The Buddy Bench Revolution

    After one 8-year-old had no one to play with at his school in Cork, Ireland, his mother nudged administrators to get a “buddy bench.” The benches serve as spots where children can find each other during lonely lunchtimes and talk about what may be bothering them, say the people who make the benches. Such personal talk is awkward in many societies, and a safe space to share can help, even for adults. Ireland’s “men’s sheds” provide places to build stuff while chatting about divorce, bereavement and other deeply personal troubles.

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    The Engineering Bromance That Built Google

    In 1996, the search engine fit on a computer in co-founder Larry Page’s dorm room. Four years later, no terrestrial supercomputer could run it. Google’s inadequate hardware required unique code that tolerated glitches and kept running. The authors of these robust combos of 0s and 1s, Jeff Dean and Sanjay Ghemawat, put in some 90 hours a week, plugging holes and correcting weaknesses in the already unparalleled search engine. Nearly 20 years later, the friendship endures, with the two still working out bugs at the same keyboard.

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    Wanna Talk to Aliens? Start With Whales

    It sounds like something out of Arrival or Star Trek IV, but it could be humankind’s best stab at turning science fiction into reality. Using Zipf’s law, which compares the frequency of both common and uncommon sounds in a language, researchers have proved the complexity of whale and dolphin communications. That’s a big step on its own, but it could also come in handy if we ever make contact with alien life. With so many unknowns about extraterrestrial communication, decoding humpback whales’ songs could be the planet’s best bet for cracking an otherworldly language barrier.

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    A Colleague Reflects on Marie Colvin’s ‘Private War’

    Janine di Giovanni knows what it means to be a woman on the front lines of war reporting, and what her friend and colleague Marie Colvin faced until being killed by Syrian artillery in 2012. Apart from the Hollywood hero worship, stock characters and inaccuracies, di Giovanni respects the effort in director Matt Heineman’s film about Colvin, A Private War. It does justice, she writes, to Colvin’s courage and accomplishments, but to appreciate her personal struggles one needs to look elsewhere, like Barbara Kopple’s 2005 documentary about female war correspondents, Bearing Witness.

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    The Spurs Need Lonnie Walker to Show Up

    The San Antonio Spurs are in the market for a superstar since shipping Kawhi Leonard to Toronto. Nineteen-year-old rookie Lonnie Walker might just fit the bill. His NBA debut, similar to his college play, has shown moments of potential. But while those periods are impressive, they lack duration and frequency. Head coach Gregg Popovich is known to bring out players’ abilities, so fans will be watching to see why their team made the shooting guard its first-round draft pick.