The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Trump Names Mick Mulvaney as Interim Chief of Staff

    President Trump on Friday named Mulvaney, his budget director, as acting chief of staff to replace John Kelly, set to leave the job he held for 17 months at year’s end. Trump tweeted that Kelly “served our country with distinction,” but his relationship with a president who resists being managed had become increasingly strained. Trump’s widely reported original choice, vice presidential Chief of Staff Nick Ayers, declined an offer to be the permanent replacement, and with Democrats taking control of the House, one analyst said, “an impossible job became even more impossible.”

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    Judge in Texas Invalidates Obamacare

    A federal district court in Fort Wort ruled Friday that the 2010 Affordable Care Act’s mandate that all Americans buy health insurance is unconstitutional, and without it, the entire law is nullified. Judge Reed O’Connor concluded that Republicans’ 2017 tax bill, which eliminated the penalty for not getting insurance, made the health care scheme unworkable. President Donald Trump hailed the decision, urging Congress to pass a “STRONG law,” while Nancy Pelosi, the incoming House speaker, blamed the GOP for the “cruel decision” and vowed intervention as Democratic states appeal, preserving Obamacare provisions until the Supreme Court weighs in.

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    Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Steps Down

    After a number of investigations looking into the former Montana congressman’s ethics, President Donald Trump announced that Zinke would “be leaving the administration at the end of the year after having served for a period of almost two years.” The former QS Energy board member will likely be succeeded by deputy secretary David Bernhardt, a former energy lobbyist, expected to pursue fossil fuel development and downplay conservation, reportedly a similar policy approach to his predecessor. Zinke is the latest of several departures from the White House since November midterms in an apparent cabinet shake-up.

  4. activists at warsaw climate talks

    Climate Talks: Global Leaders Agree on Reporting Emissions

    The summit in Kattowice, Poland ended with an agreement by officials, from almost 200 countries, on rules to govern the 2015 Paris climate accords amid warnings that gas emissions need to drop sharply by 2030 to prevent dangerous global warming. While the agreement formalizes commitments made in the accord, observers say they fall short of binding countries to targets. Michael Kurtyka who chaired the talks attended by around 250,000 delegates acknowledged the difficulty finding consensus over such a technical and political issue but said “every step forward is a big achievement.”


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    Her Kingdom for a Brexit Deal

    Prime Minister Theresa May wasted no time confronting European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker about his calling British reactions to a proposed Brexit agreement “nebulous and imprecise.” But after the second day of an EU summit, May has little to bring back to a hostile Parliament that on Wednesday tried to put her out of a job after she put off a parliamentary vote on the deal. All 27 other EU nations seem unwilling to change the deal to satisfy opponents, further amplifying fears of a catastrophic “no deal” exit and calls for a new plebiscite.   

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    McConnell’s Xmas Gift to Trump: Criminal Justice Reform

    “Go for it, Mitch!” That’s how President Trump urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to vote on a change in prison and sentencing laws before the end of the year. Despite being opposed by a small group of Republicans, the First Step Act would be by far the most bipartisan policy achievement of Trump’s presidency. Although the bill — which includes investment in anti-recidivism programs and an expansion of early release credits — would affect only federal inmates, supporters hope it will lead to state-level changes. 

  7. Bear Market Rx, Border Fatality and ‘Perjury Trap’

    The Week Ahead: On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve is expected to impose another interest rate hike, but announce a slowing of its quarterly pace of increases in the face of bearish market activity. At a Thursday hearing in New York, the defense is expected to continue to discredit women leveling rape charges against disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, whose alleged claims to have had sex with actress Jennifer Lawrence have surfaced in an unnamed accuser’s Los Angeles lawsuit. And Congress faces its latest deadline to fund the government or risk its shutdown Friday. 

    Know This: Republicans receive a blow on health-care provision as a federal judge rules the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional, leaving them with an unfulfilled campaign promise. British lawmakers are reportedly considering a second referendum amid a continuing impasse in Brexit negotiations. Sri Lanka’s disputed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has resigned from his position, allowing 73-year-old President Maithripala Sirisena to “form a new government.”

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  1. women's march my rage wont fit shutterstock 561855358

    US Anger Could Be a Renewable Resource

     They’re mad as hell, but where will they take it? Journalist Charles Duhigg observes that in spite of its obvious risks for society’s delicate fabric, anger needn’t be a bad thing. From Indian independence to farm workers’ rights to MAGA, exasperation elevated to moral indignation has fueled status-quo-shattering movements. Even Barack Obama’s “Change we can believe in” slogan, Duhigg writes, harnessed anger against ineffectual politicians. The trick is control. There needs to be an end game — even compromise to win concessions — that keeps outrage from breeding intolerance and violence.

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    The Glacier That Might Change Civilization

    Thwaites Glacier, a Florida-size ice sheet in western Antarctica, has long fascinated scientists, but 2008 seismic measurements by Penn State’s Sridhar Anandakrishnan and satellite readings showed it was melting at accelerated rates. The breakup of Thwaites, which is effectively holding neighboring glaciers in place, could precipitate a 12-foot sea level rise, submerging cities like Miami. Anandakrishnan will lead a British-American team using explosives, underwater robots and instrument-toting seals to collect data from within and around the ice to determine if unseen topography might delay the catastrophe — or hasten it.

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    In Africa, Blockchain Is Saving Money Without Betting the Farm

    This crypto investment can actually reduce risk. In Tanzania alone, the technology has purportedly isolated thousands of so-called “ghost workers,” saving almost $200 million in fake employees’ monthly payroll. Anti-corruption crusaders across the continent are banking on blockchain to stamp out graft crippling major emerging economies. And it’s not just politics that is being transformed: From specialized export industries to land reforms, blockchain is being used to monitor transactions. Africa has historically been the last to enjoy the benefits of the world’s advances; now it’s testing their limits.

  4. The legendary KRS-ONE and DJ GeeSpin from Jam'n 94.5 hosted the Sixth Annual Superbowl MC Battle at the Avalon Ballroom. KRS-ONE performed at the Superbowl MC Battle 'Half-Time Show.' Sixteen of the best battle rappers in the country competed head-to-head

    Busting Rhymes in Putin’s Russia Goes Both Ways

    After his gig was canceled, Russian rapper Husky made headlines last month by spitting some bars on top of his car before being locked up behind the steel variety. He’s one example of a creative crackdown: Artists delivering a message the government dislikes have been met with an iron fist, echoing the Soviet Union’s notorious artistic intolerance. Some rappers’ messages seem to be blamed for violence such as an anarchist’s October mass shooting in Crimea. But after international condemnation, Russian officials are singing a new tune, with one saying it’s “stupid” to cancel concerts.

  5. NFL Tackle

    Who Wouldn’t Want to Do Madden NFL Research?

    Somebody’s gotta do it. Barry J. Sanders, former college running back and son of a pro football icon, still gets expense-paid trips to games. Why? He’s one of a lucky few who adjust the ratings of players on the Madden NFL series of video games for EA Sports. Besides monitoring performance, they field complaints such as “my speed is off” directly from players and receive all-access passes to judge and interact with players. They even have social media followers who call the unpaid avocation “the best job ever.”