The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Ruth Bader Ginsburg Has Cancerous Growths Removed

    The 85-year-old supreme court justice underwent a pulmonary lobectomy Friday to have the nodules removed from her lungs, according to a statement by the highest U.S. court. While the growths were diagnosed as malignant, there was no “evidence of any remaining disease” post surgery, as reported by the public information office. The judge had a fall in November, suffering rib fractures – reports say she currently resting comfortably and will remain in hospital for a few days.

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    Stocks Plummet, Possibly Worst Christmas Market Since The Depression

    Markets fell sharply Friday as the week came to a close with some big losses. Tech-heavy Nasdaq confirmed it is in a bear market while the Dow Industrial Average fell over 400 points and the Standard & Poor Index dropped almost 51 points. Experts have put the performance down to slowing economic growth with some investors possibly fearing a recession, scaring them away from high-valuation sectors – it could be the worst December for the markets since the 1930s.

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    US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Resigns

    The retired four-star Marine general announced yesterday he would be stepping down, telling President Donald Trump that he deserves a defense secretary whose “views are better aligned with yours.” His resignation came after Trump announced all 2,000 U.S. troops fighting in Syria alongside Kurdish allies would be withdrawn. In a letter Mattis said his “views on treating allies with respect” are strongly held and that the country must be “resolute and unambiguous” in countering China and Russia. Trump tweeted that Mattis would be “retiring, with distinction” at the end of February.

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    House Passes Spending Bill With $5.7 Billion for Wall

    “Seems to me like we’re headed to a shutdown.” So said one Republican congressman who voted against a stopgap bill that includes full funding for President Trump’s border wall. Just days ago Trump signaled he wouldn’t push for the money in order to avoid a partial government shutdown. But yesterday he told Republicans he’d veto the bipartisan bill the Senate passed with $1.6 billion allocated for border security. The House bill is expected to be blocked by Senate Democrats, making a shutdown on Saturday likely as seven spending bills expire.

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    Trump Orders Major Withdrawal of Troops From Afghanistan

    Military officials have been ordered to plan the departure of around half of the 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, where American soldiers serve alongside NATO allies, offering training and assistance to Afghan forces. President Trump reportedly made the decision — against the advice of military and security advisers — at the same time he announced a total withdrawal from Syria. He had slightly increased the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan last year. Experts warn that American disengagement in the 17-year-old war could lead to instability in the region.

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    London Airport Grounds Planes Due to Drones

    Gatwick Airport was brought to a standstill for almost 36 hours, impacting thousands of holiday travelers, after two drones invaded its airspace. A runway was finally opened Friday morning with a small number of planes cleared to take off after authorities took part in unspecified “mitigating measures.” But police have not yet found the drone operators. U.K. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said it was a type of disruption not seen before but that it did not appear terror-related. Meanwhile, police said it could have been the work of environmental activists.

  7. Chinese Hackers, Ghosn Arrested and Disgraced Journalist

    Know This: The U.S. Justice Department charged two Chinese citizens yesterday for a global hacking campaign that included trying to steal personal data from more than 100,000 members of the U.S. Navy. Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn will stay in jail after being arrested again in Japan under new allegations that he assigned personal investment losses to the carmaker. And former Der Spiegel journalist Claas Relotius, who has admitted to fabricating parts of stories over the span of several years, has returned four press awards.

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    #OZYFacts: That was deep. Nearly every college student tested in a sample a group of 200 found at least one “pseudo-profound bullshit” statement to be meaningful.

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    Bakers Furious Over Hershey’s Kisses With Broken Tips

    Just in time for holiday cookie-baking season, chefs are venting their frustration online after noticing a high percentage of the chocolate treats are missing their conical tips. Pittsburgh-based Wedding Cookie Table, an online baking group, first brought the issue to light, prompting a wider community of cooks to demand the company bring back the points. While the taste remains unchanged, disappointed bakers said, cookie aesthetics have suffered. The Hershey Company, which makes more than 70 million kisses per day, said the problem likely lies on the production line.

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    Study: Many Ecosystems’ Tipping Points Are Linked

    Nearly half of 300 ecosystems vulnerable to collapse could impact each other, according to a study published today in Nature. For example, the 2016 retreat of a Canadian glacier caused a river to reverse. And increased rainfall from global warming leads to soil erosion, rapid algae growth in rivers and low-oxygen aquatic “dead zones.” Many fragile ecosystems are more interconnected than once thought, researchers said, and a seemingly small change in one could spark a domino effect. The study suggests we should prepare for a ”much more unstable future.”

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    Big Tobacco Buys Into E-cigarettes

    Altria, formerly known as Philip Morris, paid $12.8 billion for a 35 percent stake in vaping startup Juul, which positions itself as a less-harmful alternative to cigarette companies. Altria’s CEO said the company was preparing for a future where smokers “overwhelmingly choose” to vape. Juul is now distributing a $2 billion bonus among its 1,500 employees — some were reportedly upset with the Altria deal — and paying a $150 per share dividend to investors. Meanwhile, the U.S. Surgeon General called youth vaping an epidemic as rates have increased rapidly.

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    Harvey Weinstein Goes to Trial

    A New York judge refused a motion Thursday to dismiss a sexual assault case against the disgraced media mogul. Weinstein’s lawyers, who claim he’ll be “completely exonerated,” had argued that prosecutors misled a grand jury by withholding evidence of consensual relationships between Weinstein and his accusers. Although dozens have accused Weinstein of misconduct, this trial involves two women who claim he sexually assaulted them. Gloria Allred, attorney for one of the accusers, said the “indictment was not based upon the #MeToo movement” but “on evidence.” Weinstein is due back in court March 7.

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    Patriots’ Josh Gordon Put on Indefinite Suspension

    The NFL announced yesterday that the New England wide receiver had violated his terms of conditional reinstatement by failing another drug test. The 27-year-old, acquired from the Cleveland Browns this season, has played only 52 games since his 2012 rookie year after repeatedly testing positive for banned substances. Earlier in the day, Gordon, a 2013 Pro Bowler, said via Twitter that he “felt like I could have a better grasp on things mentally” and would be stepping away from the game to focus on his mental health.