The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Supreme Court Will Take on Trump’s Plan for Citizenship Question

    The panel of judges will decide whether the question on nationality can be added to the 2020 Census by the end of June, hearing the case in April. Last month the Commerce Department was stopped from adding it to the form sent to every American household each decade by a federal judge. 

    Why the contention? The response rate could drop as much as 6.5 million people by asking if undocumented migrants are present in each household. Jeopardizing the accuracy of the population count, it could affect where congressional lines are drawn and ultimately democratic representation and the distribution of billions of dollars in federal spending.

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    Trump Declares National Emergency at Border

    President Donald Trump made it formal Friday and signed a declaration, which he said was to stop the flow of drugs, criminals and illegal immigrants from the southwestern border he called a threat to national security. The move will give him access the billions of dollars Congress denied him as part of the funding bill. Trump will almost certainly face legal challenges.

    Where will the cash come from? The money will be diverted from $3.6 billion budgeted for military construction projects plus another $2.5 billion from counternarcotics programs and $600 million from the Treasury Department.

    Don’t miss OZY’s take on a more modest proposal for building Trump’s wall.

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    Amazon Nixes HQ2 Plans in New York City

    They couldn’t deliver. Progressive politicians — including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — are claiming victory after the retail giant abandoned its plan for a $2.5 billion second headquarters in Long Island City. Citing strong opposition to the $3 billion in tax breaks it was set to receive, Amazon said it’ll instead focus on plans for locations in northern Virginia and Nashville.

    Has Amazon lost face? Not exactly: As OZY reports, the online retailer ranked the second-most trusted of 20 institutions in a recent poll, suggesting prompt delivery to shoppers’ doorsteps counts for a lot.

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    Colin Kaepernick Settles Case Against NFL

    Lawyers for the former quarterback and onetime San Francisco teammate Eric Reid jointly announced with the league Friday that they’d settled their collusion grievance. The players claimed they were blackballed over their kneeling during the pregame national anthem to protest police brutality against minorities. The statement disclosed no terms and said it would remain confidential.

    What about their football careers? Reid missed three games before signing with Carolina, but Kaepernick’s chances aren’t clear. It’s even possible the agreement precludes another NFL job.

    Check out OZY’s take on the threads connecting Martin Luther King and Kaepernick.

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    India to Punish Pakistan Over Kashmir Attack

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised a tough response to a suicide attack yesterday that left at least 46 soldiers dead in the disputed Kashmir region. His government will reportedly isolate Pakistan, claiming the country shelters the terrorist group responsible for the attack. It was the deadliest in decades in the protracted conflict between India and Kashmir separatists.

    What will punishment look like? New Delhi has already stripped Pakistan of special trading privileges, while analysts predict a strong military response — and a fundamental shift in relations.

    Check out OZY’s profile of the good local boy-turned-Kashmir nationalist.

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    Theresa May Hit With Another Brexit Defeat

    The beleaguered British prime minister suffered another blow from Parliament yesterday as lawmakers voted 303-258 against her government’s negotiating strategy for withdrawing from the European Union. While the vote isn’t legally binding, it reveals how tenuous May’s authority remains — even within her own Conservative Party — just weeks ahead of the scheduled March 29 divorce.

    What’s the EU thinking? After Thursday’s vote, officials are increasingly doubting May’s ability to ensure an orderly Brexit, with one diplomat commenting, “No one can take any good from this.”

  7. Also Important…

    Nigerians will head to the polls tomorrow in an election that OZY reports is marked by despair. U.K. Home Secretary Sajid Javid has said a British schoolgirl who traveled to Syria to join ISIS could be blocked from returning home. And William Barr was sworn in yesterday as U.S. attorney general for the second time.

    #OZYfact: Meghan Markle wasn’t the first American whose romance with a prince captured the global imagination. Read more on OZY.

    Try This! Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB Quiz.


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    This Artificial Intelligence Software Spews Impressive Prose

    OpenAI, a research institute co-founded by tech titan Elon Musk, has developed an advanced language processing algorithm that has researchers worried. The machine learning system was trained on 8 million web pages to create coherent written text that “looks pretty darn real,” with nuance and even humor. It only works about half the time, though, sometimes producing bizarre and nonsensical results.

    Why the worry? Researchers fear their creation could be misused to produce high-quality fake news — which is why they’re not releasing it to the public.

    Don’t miss this OZY profile of the GOP’s artificial intelligence guru.

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    Digital Sleuths ID Third Man in Novichok Case

    Investigative site Bellingcat has named Denis Sergeev as the third suspect in the nerve agent poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the U.K. last March. It also linked Sergeev — a high-ranking Russian intelligence officer sometimes known as Sergey Fedotov — to the 2015 poisoning of a Bulgarian arms trader and his son.

    What are authorities doing? British and Bulgarian officials are conducting a joint probe into the matter, though it may prove challenging: One investigator says Sergeev is the trickiest spy they’ve ever followed.

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    Long-Awaited El Niño Finally Forms

    Reports have shored up. The climate phenomenon triggered by warmer waters in the Pacific was made official by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration yesterday. El Niños usually bring wet weather across the southern U.S. and drier conditions in the Midwest, and this event may be to blame for recent West Coast storms, which are expected to last through spring.

    What calamities await? This oceanic cycle isn’t expected to have a significant impact on global weather — though a weak El Niño, while suppressing storms in the Atlantic, could boost tornadoes in the Midwest and hurricanes in the Pacific.

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    Another Alleged R. Kelly Sex Tape Has Emerged

    Attorney Michael Avenatti announced yesterday that “new critical video evidence” implicates the singer in the sexual assault of an underage girl. The tape reportedly features a girl and a man resembling Kelly both referencing the fact that she’s 14 years old. Avenatti says his whistle-blower client, who worked for Kelly, can positively identify the girl on the video, which is now in police possession.

    What happens next? One senior law enforcement official in Illinois — where Kelly was acquitted of similar charges — suggests prosecutors are prepping fresh charges against him.

    Read this OZY feature about how Sweden’s putting a new twist on #MeToo.

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    Will Millennials Finally Watch NASCAR?

    The racing behemoth may have found a way to attract a long-elusive younger audience, OZY reports. By focusing on its fantasy products, NASCAR could pull in some of the 59.3 million online sports gamers in the U.S. and Canada. Fantasy players — whose average age is 32 — are 64 percent more likely to also watch live sports. NASCAR’s plan might even inspire other overlooked fantasy sports, such as golf, MMA and tennis.

    Are they betting on it? Naturally: NASCAR’s already considering how sports gambling, legalized on a state-by-state basis, could further drive their fantasy products.