The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Gillette Stadium New England Patriots shutterstock 2461908

    New England Patriot Owner Faces Solicitation of Prostitution Charge

    Police in Jupiter, Florida said Friday that Robert Kraft, whose team won the Super Bowl earlier this month, will be charged along with 24 other people. The 77-year-old allegedly patronized a Jupiter spa called Orchids of Asia where law enforcement claim there is video evidence of Kraft paying for and receiving sex.

    What’s the bigger picture? The charges come amid a broader crackdown on sex trafficking in the area surrounding Palm Beach County – 200 arrest warrants have already been issued, and more are expected.

    Don’t miss OZY’s feature on how 400,000 people are enslaved in America.


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    Singer R Kelly Charged with Sexual Offences

    The R&B singer is facing charges on ten counts of aggravated sexual abuse in the state of Illinois. The multiple Grammy winner has consistently denied years of sexual misconduct allegations involving women and underage girls. In 2008, Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges after a video emerged of him allegedly having sex with a girl of 13, while last week lawyer Michael Avanetti said he gave Chicago prosecutors evidence of Kelly having sex with a girl who also appeared to be underage.

    What happens now? Documents list Kelly’s first court date as 8 March.

    Read OZY’s story: How do you respond when the harasser is an elderly patient?

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    Venezuela Is Bracing for More Unrest

    The country’s political crisis appears set to intensify after President Nicolás Maduro closed Venezuela’s border with Brazil and threatened to do the same with Colombia to stop deliveries of humanitarian aid. Thousands of volunteers have been flocking toward the borders to help force badly needed supplies into the country. Allies of opposition leader Juan Guaidó will hold a Venezuela Aid Live concert tonight in the Colombian city of Cucuta, while Maduro’s government will hold its own event just across the border.

    What’s the opposition’s strategy? They’re hoping the military will cave and let civilians ferry in aid — effectively robbing Maduro of his power to maintain order through the threat of force.

    Check out OZY’s Flashback on the secret pact that launched Venezuela’s democracy.

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    US-China Trade Talks Enter Final Stretch

    With just a week left before U.S. tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports are expected to jump from 10 to 25 percent, negotiators from both countries continued haggling in Washington yesterday to avoid a worsening trade war. Sources suggest this week’s talks have been the toughest round yet, with U.S demands focusing on structural changes to China’s economy and an “enforcement mechanism” to guarantee Beijing complies with any agreements.

    Is there a make-or-break? Some analysts say the White House is banking on special envoy Liu He — who’s known President Xi Jinping since middle school, and who President Donald Trump’s called “a friend of mine” — to lobby Beijing hard on America’s behalf.

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    Vatican Tackles Sex Abuse During Summit

    At the start of a historic four-day meeting convened by Pope Francis, nearly 200 global Catholic Church leaders gathered yesterday to hear prerecorded testimony from victims of sexual abuse by clergymen. The pontiff called for “concrete and effective measures,” while the Vatican’s top sex abuse investigator said the church needs to adopt “a culture of disclosure.”

    What’s the plan of action? Francis outlined 21 “reflection points” — including rules for reporting abuse to police and psychological evaluations for incoming priests — but some observers say complex Vatican policy is part of the problem.

    Don’t miss OZY’s Special Briefing on the Catholic nun abuse scandal.

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    Anticipation Builds Ahead of Trump-Kim Meeting

    As President Trump prepares to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam next week, speculation is growing over how the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center might figure into the talks. The facility is the jewel in Pyongyang’s atomic crown, and experts suggest it continues to produce weapons-grade nuclear materials. Meanwhile, North Korea has reportedly warned the U.N. that it’s facing a major food shortage this year.

    What’s Trump hoping for? Some suggest his priority is to score a symbolic victory by finally declaring peace on the Korean Peninsula.

  7. Also Important…

    Japan’s Hayabusa 2 space probe has landed on the Ryugu asteroid some 186 million miles from Earth. The White House has said it’ll keep 200 U.S. soldiers on the ground in Syria after the military’s planned withdrawal. And Tesla has begun delivering Model 3 sedans in China ahead of schedule.

    #OZYfactWhen Walter Cronkite retired from CBS News in 1981, nearly 87 percent of Americans trusted him to present a balanced view of the news — compared to today, when only 31 percent of Americans trust major television news networks “a lot.” Read more on OZY.

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


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    Study: US Overdose Deaths Highest Among Wealthy Nations

    Thanks to increasing opioid consumption, America’s drug-related mortality rate is 3.5 times higher than the average of its peers, according to a new study in Population and Development Review. In 2013, the last year sociologist Jessica Ho studied, overdoses accounted for 16.97 deaths per 100,000 — more than 28 times higher than in Japan. The current numbers could be even worse: Overdose deaths jumped from 47,000 in 2014 to 70,000 in 2017.

    How else does the U.S. compare? Researchers say America’s drug problem also contributes to a widening life expectancy gap.

  2. Spacex

    SpaceX Takes Israel to the Moon

    Watch this space. The private aerospace company launched its second Falcon 9 rocket of the year yesterday, sending up an Indonesian communications satellite, an experimental satellite for the U.S. Air Force and an Israeli lunar lander. The latter, called Beresheet, will spend two months traveling to the moon, after which it’ll beam back images and video from the lunar surface — a first for a privately built spacecraft.

    Are more such missions in the works? Private lunar exploration is only just beginning, with U.S. and Japanese firms already planning their own trips.

    Read this OZY feature about Finland’s private sector space race.

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    Teens Are Cracking Under Pressure in This Indian State

    While the city of Kota is India’s largest hub for college exam coaching centers, it’s also spawned a parallel rehabilitation industry catering to a dark demand, OZY reports. The Rajasthan state capital attracts more than 150,000 students and around $240 million every year, but the intense pressure leads many to alcohol and drug abuse, gang violence and even suicide.

    What are the authorities doing about it? Besides staging drug busts, police are also in talks with local coaching institutes to ease the financial burden on troubled drop-outs with an “exit policy.”

  4. Michael Jackson performing in Japan, 1988.

    Michael Jackson Estate Sues HBO Over Documentary

    Can they beat it? The TV network and its parent company, Time Warner, are facing a lawsuit brought yesterday by representatives of the late King of Pop over its plans to air a documentary about Jackson’s alleged sexual abuse. Seeking damages that could top $100 million, estate executors say HBO breached a non-disparagement clause stemming from a 1992 agreement.

    Will HBO give in? It doesn’t seem like it: The network still plans to air Leaving Neverland on March 3 and 4.

    Don’t miss OZY’s profile of Angola’s accidental star who’s taking his dance global.

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    Paris Olympics Will Include Breakdancing

    They’re turning the competition on its head. The organizing committee chief for the 2024 Summer Games announced the sport would be included along with 2020-approved skateboarding, climbing and surfing. Tony Estanguet, a gold medalist in canoeing, said the additions would make the Paris Olympics “more urban” and “more artistic,” and would perfectly reflect the city’s identity. The decision still needs approval from the International Olympic Committee.

    Are there any losers? Baseball, karate and squash were all passed up for the 2024 games — although the marathon course will be open to the public for the first time ever.