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Inside Daily Brief (Jan 12th, 2018)

The Wall Street Journal reported that, during the 2016 presidential campaign, a lawyer for Donald Trump arranged to pay a former adult film star $130,000 in exchange for her silence about a sexual encounter with the candidate. Two unnamed sources "familiar with the matter" told WSJ that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen made the payment to Stephanie Clifford, known professionally as Stormy Daniels, in October of 2016, after getting her to sign a nondisclosure agreement. In the alleged agreement, Clifford agreed not to publicly disclose a private encounter she had with President Trump after a July 2006 celebrity golf tournament. (Donald and Melania Trump were married in 2005.) A White House official would not comment specifically on the deal between Trump and Clifford, but referred to the WSJ story as "old, recycled reports." – WSJ

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Mudslides have killed 17 people and destroyed dozens of homes in California's Santa Barbara County. 43 people remain missing as search and rescue operations continue throughout the area. The mudslide activity was triggered by recent wildfires followed by heavy rainfall in southern California, and more rain predicted for this weekend could worsen conditions. More than 21,000 residents, many of whom were recently in the path of the Thomas fire, have evacuated Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. The landslides can move at speeds up to 35-50 miles per hour. – NPR

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Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife donated $33 million to a scholarship fund intended to help DACA immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. The donation will help a non-profit, TheDream.US, pay for scholarships for 1,000 high school graduates who have been permitted to stay in the U.S. under DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. TheDream.US was established by Donald Graham, former publisher of The Washington Post, along with Henry R. Muñoz III and Carlos Gutierrez. Graham sold the Post to Bezos in 2013. In a statement about the donation, Bezos said his adoptive father is an immigrant from Cuba. “With a lot of grit and determination — and the help of some remarkable organizations in Delaware — my dad became an outstanding citizen, and he continues to give back to the country that he feels blessed him in so many ways," Bezos said. - WAPO

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President Trump has decided to extend sanctions relief for Iran, keeping the 2015 nuclear deal in place for now. Trump is expected to impose a deadline for the U.S. Congress and European allies to improve the accord, or the U.S. will withdraw. Trump agreed to impose new sanctions against several Iranian government officials over corruption and human-rights abuses, a move reportedly related to the recent anti-government protests in the country. Trump had previously vowed to end the agreement between Iran and seven world powers. The accord suspended decades of economic sanctions in exchange for Iran limiting its nuclear program. - NYT

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The Swiss government ruled that lobsters must be stunned before they are placed into boiling water for cooking. The Guardian first reported on the government's order, which bans the practice of boiling the animals alive starting on March 1. Robert Elwood, an ecology professor at Queen’s University Belfast, said stunning the lobsters electrically, or destroying their brains mechanically, effectively kills the animals so they can't feel pain. "They would not recover consciousness if left in an attempt to do so," he told Newsweek. The ban - part of an overhaul of Switzerland's animal protection rules - says live crustaceans cannot be transported on ice or in ice water. The rules also target illegal puppy farms, animal euthanasia and other issues. - LATIMES

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Police have recovered all of the jewelry reported stolen from the Paris Ritz hotel this week. A group of thieves carrying axes attempted the robbery on Wednesday. While they were captured and arrested in the building, the robbers threw some of the stolen property to two accomplices waiting outside. One of them, a motorcyclist, dropped a bag, which reportedly contained all the stolen jewels. The jewelry was valued at $5.42 million. - CNN

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The U.S. ambassador to Panama resigned on Friday, saying he can no longer serve President Trump. John Feeley, a career diplomat, said he signed an oath to serve the president and the administration "in an apolitical fashion," even if he disagrees with their policies. "My instructors made clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honor bound to resign. That time has come," Feeley said in his resignation letter. His retirement takes effect on March 9. - THEHILL

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President Trump canceled a trip to London planned for next month, saying he opposes a deal that would sell an embassy there "for peanuts." Trump was scheduled to attend an embassy opening in the UK. Though Trump had blamed the Obama administration for the sale, Reuters reported that the decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy in London was agreed upon in 2008 under the George W. Bush presidency, for security reasons. On Thursday, Trump tweeted that it was a "Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!" - CBS

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Musician Eric Clapton told BBC Radio that he is going deaf. "I'm still going to work, I'm doing a few gigs," Clapton, 72, told BBC Radio 2's "Steve Wright in the Afternoon." "You know the only thing I'm concerned with now is being in my 70s and being able to be proficient." Clapton said he has tinnitus, a common condition that involves hearing ringing, buzzing and other noises in the ears. The guitarist released an album, “I Still Do,” in 2016, and has a new documentary titled “Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars." - CNN

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Women in Saudi Arabia were allowed to attend a soccer match for the first time on Friday. They were segregated to a "family section" area away from the male-only crowd. The rule change is part of a wider push in Saudi Arabia to loosen restrictions on women in the public sphere. King Salman, who ascended to the Saudi monarchy in 2015, and his son Mohammed bin Salman are thought to be the driving force behind the changes, which will also include a lift on the ban of female motorists and the opening up of new employment opportunities. - NYT

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