The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Trump Considering Full Withdrawal From Syria

    As US forces near the end of their campaign in northwestern Syria, once a stronghold for terror outfit ISIS, President Donald Trump indicated Wednesday it may be time to move on. Trump wrote on Twitter, ”We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.” The move would upset the current relationship with Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces on the ground who have helped to weaken them. About 2,500 ISIS members are still thought to be present along the Iraqi/Syrian border, the Pentagon reportedly opposes a pullout.

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    Federal Reserve Raises Interest Rates Despite Pressure

    The U.S. central banking system raised interest rates Wednesday, the fourth time this year, hiking them a further quarter of a percentage point to 2.5 percent. President Donald Trump has called the increases “foolish” in the past, arguing it was the biggest threat to the economy. But all four increases have been approved by unanimous vote. At the same time all of the Fed leaders lowered their growth forecast for 2019 from 2.5 percent to 2.3 percent and said it would hold off any further rate increases for a while.


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    Senate Passes Government Funding, Congress To Stave Off Shutdown

    Senators passed the measure paving the way for a Congressional vote, which must be approved by Friday to stave off a government shut-down. The temporary provisions will not free up the $5 billion needed by President Trump to fund his border wall, but will temporarily keep the lights on at the Department of Homeland Security and other vital government agencies through to February 8. If the deadline passes without Congress voting in favor, 800,000 government workers face a Christmas without pay.

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    Judge Postpones Michael Flynn’s Sentencing

    “Arguably, you sold your country out.” So said Judge Emmet Sullivan to President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, who admitted to lying to authorities about communication with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak after Trump’s election. Sullivan said he couldn’t hide his “disgust” for the crime and warned the retired three-star Army general he might be incarcerated if sentenced now. Instead he gave Flynn until March to make a case for leniency by further cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Mueller has requested no prison time for Flynn for his already “substantial” cooperation.

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    US Senate Passes Bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform

    The First Step Act passed 87-12 with overwhelming bipartisan support Tuesday in what could become the largest shake-up of federal sentencing guidelines in decades. The legislation shortens some mandatory minimum sentences, gives judges more discretion in sentencing and allows potentially thousands convicted of nonviolent crimes to be released early into rehabilitation programs. President Trump tweeted that the bill would “provide hope and a second chance, to those who earn it.” The legislation now moves to the House where it is expected to pass before this session of Congress ends.

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    UK Readies for No-Deal Brexit

    Call in the troops. With 100 days before Brexit and no agreement in sight, the British government met yesterday to begin preparations for a no-deal scenario. Plans include using ferries to transport medical supplies and calling up 3,500 armed forces personnel for support. More than $2.5 billion from a Brexit fund has been provided to government offices — such as the ministry operating border controls — to weather the transition. Meanwhile, a draft of the country’s no-deal-Brexit immigration regime sets a minimum salary of nearly $38,000 for would-be EU immigrants.

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    Report: Facebook Allowed Companies to Read Users’ Messages

    A New York Times investigation details how the platform allowed business partners to access more personal information than was previously known. Documents from Facebook’s internal system for tracking partnerships revealed that more than 150 companies had special arrangements to access data without users’ explicit consent. Netflix and Spotify were able to view private messages, Yahoo could see streams of friends’ posts, and Microsoft and Amazon were given contact information on users’ friends. Facebook denied that the companies had misused the data but said it was ending “integration partnerships” anyway.

  8. Border Wall Funding, Myanmar Military and Nevada Politics

    Know This: As a partial government shutdown looms this week, the White House appeared to back off from its demand for $5 billion to fund a wall on the Mexican border. Facebook has removed hundreds of pages linked to Myanmar’s military, which is accused of abuses against the Rohingya minority. And Nevada will be the first state with a majority female legislature after two women were appointed to vacant seats yesterday.

    Read This: According to a report in The New York Times, hackers have had their hands on communications from European Union diplomats for years. One stolen cable described a meeting between the American and Russian presidents in Helsinki as “successful (at least for Putin).”

    #OZYFacts: Oregon is the state where inmates are most likely to successfully escape prison. An inmate has +3,600 odds of flying the coop in the Beaver State compared with +311,000 odds in the state with the least porous prisons — Ohio.

    Are you an OZY fan? We’d love to learn more about you. Take our five-minute audience survey for the chance to win tickets to OZY Fest 2019 — or a trip to California to meet the OZY Tribe at our next team retreat.


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    Elon Musk Gives First Look at Los Angeles Tunnel

    Hold your breath. Two years after proposing a solution to LA traffic, the tech billionaire yesterday unveiled his Boring Company’s $10 million, 1.14-mile-long test tunnel. Reporters took demonstration rides in a Tesla Model X fitted with retractable alignment wheels that turned it into a “rail-guided train” traveling at around 40 mph — though Musk claims the tunnels would be safe for travel at up to 150 mph. The underground highway system would eventually link to a series of planned Hyperloops transporting passengers in high-speed capsules.

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    Trump Orders Creation of Space Command

    The president has signed a memorandum resurrecting the Pentagon program that ran from 1985 to 2002 until U.S. Strategic Command took over its work. Vice President Mike Pence said the organization will develop “space doctrine, tactics, techniques and procedures” to defend the nation’s assets in orbit. The administration said the creation of the military’s 11th combatant command — which joins the likes of Cyber Command and Transportation Command — is a step toward creating another branch of the military, the Space Force, which would still require congressional approval.

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    Germany’s Idea for Cleaning the Air? Remove Cars

    Check out their auto ban. As environmentalists fight to uphold European air quality standards, courtroom victories have driven diesel cars — blamed for contributing to excessive nitrogen dioxide levels in 65 German cities — out of 12 metropolitan areas, including Berlin and Frankfurt. Activist group Environmental Action Germany, led by veteran environmentalist Jürgen Resch, has challenged dozens more local governments to enforce their laws. Retrofitting diesel vehicles could cost the car industry billions, but Resch argues that carmakers can only survive if they get used to making cleaner cars now.

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    ‘Laverne & Shirley’ Star Penny Marshall Dies at 75

    The actress and director passed away at her Hollywood Hills home Monday night from diabetes complications. First known for the recurring character Laverne DeFazio in the ’70s hit Happy Days, Marshall’s leading role in its spin-off, alongside co-star Cindy Williams, paved the way for other shows to pair women as leads. The Bronx native also enjoyed a successful four-decade directing career, making classics like Big and A League of Their Own. Marshall was the first woman to helm a film that earned more than $100 million.

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    Manchester United Sacks Jose Mourinho

    The once-dominant soccer team announced yesterday that the veteran Premier League manager will “leave the club,” ending a disappointing two-year tenure. Mourinho’s squad suffered an embarrassing 3-1 loss to rival Liverpool Sunday, putting the Red Devils 11 points from qualifying for a lucrative European Champions League spot. The former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss was reportedly unpopular among his team and presided over a 12 percent decline in shares of the club. Former Norwegian star Ole Gunnar Solskjaer — famed for his knee slide — has been selected as interim manager.