The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Trump, Pelosi and Schumer Come to Blows Over Wall, on Camera

    The president, Senate Minority Leader and House Minority Leader, met in a rare Oval Office encounter with press to discuss government funding, escalating into an on-air dispute. Wanting $5 billion for the U.S. Mexico border wall, the Democrats are offering only $1.3 billion for border security. They must reach an agreement by Dec. 21 or parts of the government will power down. While Trump said he’d be ”proud to shut down the government for border security,” Chuck Schumer advised against what Nancy Pelosi called a “Trump shutdown.”

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    Brexit in Chaos After Delayed Vote

    After postponing a parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal, beleaguered British Prime Minister Theresa May’s retreat has the entire process — as well as her political future — more uncertain than ever. She’ll meet with EU leaders today in an effort to secure better conditions for her country’s withdrawal from the bloc, but while European Council President Donald Tusk signaled the EU was prepared to discuss “how to facilitate the U.K. ratification,” he warned that any renegotiation is off the table. A costly no-deal withdrawal now appears increasingly likely.

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    Macron Pledges Tax Cuts and Minimum Wage Boost

    In a televised address yesterday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the measures in a bid to placate angry citizens after weeks of violent anti-government protests. Criticized for his silence amid demonstrators’ demands for more government support for the working class, Macron promised to scrap a recent tax increase affecting some pensions and to increase the minimum wage by around $114 per month in 2019. He also said he’d meet with mayors to “take the pulse of the country.” Meanwhile, “yellow vest” protesters prepared for more actions next Saturday.

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    US, China Mull New Trade Dialogue

    They’re all talk. Despite the recent high-profile arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, China’s Commerce Ministry indicated today that talks would continue on resolving the trade war between Beijing and Washington. During a telephone call, Vice Premier Liu He, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer reportedly discussed a road map based on the trade cease-fire reached this month between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, during the G-20 summit. China previously warned of “grave consequences” if Meng wasn’t released.

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    Accused Russian Spy to Plead Guilty

    According to a court filing Monday, 30-year-old Maria Butina has agreed to plead guilty this week to a single felony count of conspiracy. Federal prosecutors say the former American University graduate student, who’d previously pleaded not guilty, sought to infiltrate the National Rifle Association to nurture political contacts and influence U.S. policy toward Moscow. They also claimed she was being directed by a Russian official who was under sanctions for alleged ties to President Vladimir Putin. Butina, who was arrested in July, is due in court tomorrow.

  6. Missing Marines, Huawei and Fossil Fuels

    Know This: Five U.S. Marines who were missing after a midair collision near southern Japan last week have been declared dead. Taiwan is considering an expansion of its ban on Huawei-produced network equipment. And two American nuns have admitted to embezzling around $500,000 from a California school in order to gamble in Las Vegas.

    Read This: As many countries ponder more effective ways to fight global warming, the U.S. is doubling down on its belief in fossil fuels — and gaining support along the way from fellow producers.

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    Russian Serial Killer Convicted of 56 More Murders

    Former Siberian policeman Mikhail Popkov received a second life sentence after DNA evidence revealed he’d slain scores more women and a fellow police officer. Popkov, nicknamed “The Werewolf” by local media, was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to life in prison for murdering 22 women. Between 1992 and 2007 Popkov preyed on 16- to 40-year-olds, claiming he wanted to purge his hometown of Angarsk of drunk and promiscuous women. Prosecutors said he’d decide to kill victims “as soon as they agreed to share a drink with him.”

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    Your Apps Know Where You’ve Been

    At least 75 companies receive surprisingly precise location data from apps — like the Weather Channel and GasBuddy — and don’t keep the information to themselves, a New York Times investigation shows. Location-targeted advertising is a $21 billion industry, reason enough for companies to track more than 200 million American mobile devices per year. While users’ identities aren’t generally revealed, names could be ascertained from the devices’ locations, which are accurate to within a few yards. All that stands between a marketing company and your data is a vague privacy policy.

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    City Frogs Are Sexier Than Country Frogs

    In studying his pet project, the túngara frog, Dutch ecologist Wouter Halfwerk split his time between the Darién Gap, a small strip of Central American rain forest, and the nearby town of Gamboa, where he noticed a difference in the inch-long amphibians’ swagger. In the forest the male túngara reeled back his famous call, a downward whine followed by two or more chucks — which are attractive to female túngara, but also to deadly predators. Urban túngara can choke out many more chucks, which female frogs apparently find irresistible.

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    Comedians Push a Different Sort of Observational Humor

    Laugh it off. Performers such as Cameron Esposito and Hannah Gadsby are moving from self-deprecation to self-realization in recent sets that probe injustices they’ve faced. Gadsby’s Netflix hit Nanette explores issues of harassment and homophobia, while Hari Kondabolu’s special Warn Your Relatives discusses racist stereotypes of South Asians. It’s art in the era of #MeToo, which not only recognizes these experiences but also challenges them. And as long as the emphasis on social issues doesn’t cut too much into the laughs, these jokesters might be onto something.

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    Report: Top Officials Kept Quiet in Nassar Scandal

    Yesterday the U.S. Olympic Committee released the results of a damning independent investigation into its handling of former team doctor and convicted sexual abuser Larry Nassar. The 252-page report notes a nearly 14-month period of silence from officials — including USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun and chief of sport performance Alan Ashley — after they learned of the abuse allegations. Twenty-three women claim the doctor abused them during that time, while officials “allowed Nassar to quietly retire.” Blackmun and Penny later resigned, while Ashley was fired.