The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Paul Manafort Gets Nearly 4 Years

    President Trump’s former campaign manager was sentenced to only 47 months on Thursday — much less than the 19-24 years special counsel Robert Mueller sought — for tax and bank fraud. Manafort said he felt “humiliated and ashamed” while prosecutors downplayed Manafort’s cooperation with Mueller’s Russia investigation, saying he provided no new information.

    Is it over for Manafort? Not quite; next week he’ll face up to 10 years in sentencing for charges of conspiracy against the U.S. and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Trump has left open the possibility of pardoning him.

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    Huawei Sues US Over Defense Law

    With a suit filed in Texas yesterday, the Chinese tech giant is targeting legislation that bars U.S. government agencies from using its technology. Huawei claims the move is unconstitutional because it doesn’t allow for a proper defense, saying Congress acted “as judge, jury and executioner.” The legal salvo is the latest in a feud that escalated after CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada in December at Washington’s request.

    Can Huawei actually win? Experts say that while it faces an uphill legal battle, the lawsuit is a useful way “to slow down the federal government.”

    Don’t miss OZY’s Special Briefing on the Huawei scandal.

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    Zuckerberg: Facebook Will Shift to Private Sharing

    Facing increasing pressure to better protect user data, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced his intent yesterday to push the social network toward focusing on private communication. But while declaring in a 3,200-word blog post that “a privacy-focused communications platform will become even more important than today’s open platforms,” he offered few details about how Facebook would shift its strategy.

    What would this mean for business? Observers question how the $490 billion company would be able to continue its lucrative advertising-based model, which depends largely on public sharing.

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    US Senator Says She Was Raped While Serving in Air Force

    During a Senate hearing on sexual assault in the military, Republican Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona — the first female American combat pilot — said she was “preyed upon” and raped by a superior officer, whose identity she did not disclose. The freshman senator, appointed last year to fill the late Sen. John McCain’s seat, said she didn’t report the incident because she “didn’t trust the system.”

    How widespread is the problem in the U.S. military? In 2017, the Pentagon said it received 6,769 sexual assault reports, a 10 percent increase from the previous year.

    Read this OZY True Story about the anatomy of a sexual assault.

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    Seoul: New Movement at North Korean Missile Site

    The South Korean Defense Ministry says it’s keeping close tabs on North Korea’s military facilities after Seoul’s intelligence chief indicated that Pyongyang has boosted vehicle movement around a key missile research center. It follows recent reports that North Korea has been restoring a missile launch site that it had pledged to dismantle — a move President Donald Trump said would leave him “very disappointed.”

    Will Pyongyang resume missile tests? It’s unlikely, according to some experts, who believe North Korea doesn’t want to risk derailing negotiations or provoking tougher sanctions.

  6. Also Important…

    The U.S. trade deficit rose to a record high last year of $891.3 billion. Pakistan has widened its crackdown on Islamist groups by seizing 182 religious schools and arresting more than 100 suspected militants. And legendary Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek has announced that he’s suffering from late-stage pancreatic cancer.

    #OZYfact: The estimated damages from New York City’s 1977 blackout totaled more than $1.2 billion in modern-day dollars. Read more on OZY.

    We’re hiring! OZY is looking for a prolific sports reporter and editor to join our team. Could this be you? Check out the job description for more details … and find all our open jobs right here.


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    NASA Announces First All-Female Spacewalk

    It’s one small step for women. The historic feat by U.S. astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch — with ground support from Canadian flight controller Kristen Facciol — is set for March 29. This week McClain and her fellow International Space Station astronauts became the first to enter a docked SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule while in orbit, a key step for the firm’s plans for manned missions.

    What’s the mission for the spacewalk? NASA hasn’t disclosed the specific purpose of the seven-hour outing, which it plans to broadcast, but it’ll likely involve repairs or scientific experiments.

    Don’t miss this OZY piece detailing how the U.S. will return to the moon.

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    Are Train Delays the Future of Brexit?

    Not so fast. Yesterday Eurostar trains between Paris and London sustained delays of up to two hours as French customs officers imposed “Brexit-style” security checks. One border guard said the British withdrawal on March 29 will thrust train travel between the two countries “back to [the] 1970s.” Meanwhile, trade union bosses are demanding more resources to cope.

    What else will Brexit bring? The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says even a smooth withdrawal could push the U.K. into a recession, with GDP growth below 1 percent for the next two years.

    Read OZY’s take on whether the German economy will break up the EU.

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    South Korea Floats Artificial Rain Project With China

    President Moon Jae-in has proposed a joint effort with Beijing to tackle his country’s fine dust pollution by creating rain over the Yellow Sea. Dust pollution in Seoul has sparked alarm this week, reaching particle concentration levels four times higher than what the U.N. considers healthy. Some believe China is a significant source of that dust.

    How will they make it rain? China already uses cloud-seeding, where water-attracting substances are injected into clouds, but it doesn’t always work: South Korea’s last such experiment in January failed.

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    Researchers Uncover 15th-Century Mass Child Sacrifice

    In a new study published in PLOS One, Peruvian archaeologists detailed the discovery of the remains of more than 140 children — and more than 200 young llamas — in what they believe was a ritual sacrifice during the peak of the Chimú civilization. The skeletons of the victims, ages 5 to 14, show evidence that executioners used a ceremonial knife to remove their hearts.

    Why would they do this? Researchers theorize that the Chimú people may have wanted to satisfy their gods in order to prevent El Niño-linked flooding in Peru’s northern coastal region.

    Read OZY’s Flashback about when the Balinese chose suicide over servitude.

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    Hip-Hop Is Helping Esports Become Cool

    They’ve got game. A convergence between esports and high-profile musicians is bringing new fans to the fast-growing online gaming industry, OZY reports. Stars like Drake and Travis Scott are appearing on Twitch streams with gaming gurus, and at least four recent festivals married esports and music. Meanwhile, Diddy has invested in a high school league, while Soulja Boy and Meek Mill are recruiting their own team.

    What’s behind the collab? These partnerships could increase brand recognition and pre-event hype — not to mention scoring new investors.