The Presidential Daily Brief


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    ‘Not Much Headway’ in Latest Shutdown Talks 

    White House officials led by Vice President Mike Pence met for two hours Saturday with Democratic congressional staff, trying to end what’s threatening to become America’s longest-ever government shutdown. While Democrats are offering $1.3 billion for border security that includes fencing, they won’t agree to any of the $5.7 billion President Donald Trump demands for a wall on the Mexican frontier. Trump tweeted that “not much headway” was made, while his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, said his boss is offering to concede to metal fencing, rather than a concrete wall.

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    Warren Stumps in Iowa, Defends DNA Test

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren hit the Hawkeye State Saturday, becoming the first Democratic contender to formally vie for the nation’s top job next year. As she started her three-day swing in Sioux City, the first question from the audience asked why she’d let President Trump, who ridicules her as “Pocahontas,” dare her into taking a DNA test that indicated only marginal Native American heritage. Warren said she wanted to “put it all out there” in public, but 2020 won’t be “about my family,” but millions of others “who just want a level playing field.”

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    For UK Jews, German Passports Offer Brexit Insurance

    They haven’t forgotten. But facing the loss of European Union rights, some British Jews are considering what for many had been unthinkable: applying for German citizenship, lost by their family during the Holocaust. In 2015, only 43 Britons made such a request under Article 116 of the German Constitution. Since 2016’s Brexit vote, some 3,000 have applied. Compounding that irony is that some are troubled by a recent rise in anti-Semitism in Great Britain, and regard Germany as more tolerant. Said one applicant, “It’s about knowing that you can live and be safe.”

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    This European President Wants to Break Up His Nation

    It’s an “impossible state,” says Milorad Dodik, Bosnia-Herzegovina’s president. When Western allies helped broker a fragile agreement there between Christian Serbs and Bosnian Muslims two decades ago, Dodik was a “breath of fresh air” representing the region’s future stability. In recent years, fresh air hasn’t won many votes, and he’s admittedly hardened his rhetoric to please his fellow Bosnian Serbs. Lately he’s been slapped with U.S. sanctions after undermining the Dayton Accords, which ended a bloody conflict in 1995, by pushing his goal of a sovereign Republika Srpska.

  5. Golden Globes, Afghan Mining Deaths and Pentagon Resignation

    The Week Ahead: The 76th annual Golden Globe Awards will be hosted by actors Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg tonight. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo begins a weeklong trip to the Middle East on Tuesday. And CES, the world’s largest consumer electronics show, will run Tuesday through Friday in Las Vegas.

    Know This: Thirty people have been killed in the collapse of a makeshift gold mine in northeastern Afghanistan. Rear Admiral Kevin Sweeney has resigned as Pentagon chief of staff — the third top military official to leave after President Trump’s sudden decision to withdraw from Syria. And three men were killed by gunfire in a Southern California bowling alley after a fight reportedly broke out.

    #OZYfact: Nearly 14 percent of women younger than 24 are married by some form of coercion in Kyrgyzstan, where bride kidnapping is a matrimonial tradition.


  1. American flag patch soldier Iraq war camouflage shutterstock 14333026

    The Soldier Who Preached the Lessons of Abu Ghraib

    How can Christians fight evil in the world? Joshua Casteel knew: “Refrain from doing it.” He took that lesson from Iraq, where he worked at one of the world’s most notorious prisons. The devout Christian followed his Army service speaking and writing about the lessons gleaned from the interrogations and humiliation prisoners were subjected to and even the pollution caused by military burn pits. After Casteel died of lung cancer, his mother continued his legacy through a foundation, raising awareness of how duty, faith and morality clash when good people do nothing.

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    How Warming Threatens Wisconsin’s Native Foresters

    “Man is part of the land.” That ethos guides the Menominee, an ancient people who’ve kept their remaining patch of the Dairy State densely forested — even while supporting themselves by selectively harvesting trees for their sawmill. Foresters and scientists study this remarkable sustainability and how it’s threatened by climate change. Drought, storms and invasive species imperil the reservation’s forests, where hemlock trees are vanishing and warm-weather hickory is taking root. Subzero days needed to firm logging roads are also declining, shaking hope that this holistic tradition can survive. 

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    Your Nearest Health Clinic Could Be Your Mailbox

    At-home medical remedies were once cause for concern, but now they might be the future of health care. Eve Medical, inspired by the startling fact that a third of Canadian women avoid regular Pap smears, is leading the charge with a DIY test. Other self-administered care includes fertility treatments, physical therapy and STD screening. At-home diagnostic tools are nothing new and have blossomed in popularity among patients sick of waiting for results. Experts worry, though, that misinterpreted results could cause unnecessary anxiety and, even worse, false confidence.

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    A ‘Cable Guy’ Shares Her Window on Humanity

    She made connections, and not always by choice. Lauren Hough spent 10 years as a “cable guy,” in suburban northern Virginia, encountering everything from aquatic snakes to nude customers to dead cats. “Humanity is rarer than I imagined when I first took the job,” Hough writes. That meant she had to be prepared for anything — homophobia, threats, men in cages and even Dick Cheney. Hough’s job involved more than fixing cable. It was also about putting up with dispatchers’ gender politics, the class divide and mastering the art of finessing pee breaks.

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    When Star Crimson Tide Backup QB Isn’t Enough

    “My story’s far from over.” So said Jalen Hurts shortly before last week’s Orange Bowl amid chatter that he’s eyeing a transfer. Voted by Alabama teammates, who play Clemson for the championship Monday, as most inspirational player, Hurts nevertheless lost the starting spot this season to Heisman Trophy runner-up Tua Tagovailoa. He’s suggested he’ll stay, but switching schools may be his best hope of reaching the NFL. Despite being replaced, those who know Hurts, like Bama’s strength coach, Scott Cochran, say he’ll persevere: “He’s built with something different.”