The Presidential Daily Brief

important

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    Bezos Blasts National Enquirer for ’Extortion and Blackmail’

    In an extremely personal post on Thursday, Amazon’s founder accused the tabloid’s owner, David Pecker, of directing threats against him to stop an investigation into published texts and photos of his affair. Bezos posted in full an editor’s email that threatened to publish more explicit photographs of the relationship if the prodding didn’t stop.

    Where was the trail leading? Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, brought up the tabloid’s relationships with Saudi Arabia and President Trump;  his private security is investigating political motivations for the leaked material of the affair.

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    Virginia Politics in Chaos as AG Admits to Blackface

    Mark Herring became the third Democratic leader in Virginia embroiled in controversy yesterday after he confessed to wearing blackface as part of a “rapper” costume when he was in college in 1980. Gov. Ralph Northam has been fighting calls to resign — including from Herring — after some said a 1984 yearbook photo shows him in blackface, which he denies. Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax faces allegations of sexual assault.

    Is there anyone who isn’t engulfed in scandal? If all three step down, the next in line for the governorship is the Republican state house speaker. That leaves Democrats torn between holding their own members accountable as the party woos female and minority voters and losing ground in a hard-won battleground state.

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    Maduro Blocks Border Bridge to Prevent Aid

    A blockade consisting of an oil tanker and shipping containers appeared yesterday on the Tienditas Bridge between Colombia and Venezuela, preventing international humanitarian aid from reaching the impoverished country. “We are not beggars,” declared President Nicolás Maduro, who is still supported by Venezuela’s military and fighting calls for his ousting by self-appointed interim president Juan Guaidó.

    What’s so threatening about aid? The embattled leader claims the shipments are cover for an invasion to topple his government, while President Donald Trump has said U.S. military intervention is still on the table.

    Read OZY’s Special Briefing about a country on the brink.

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    Trump Says ISIS Soon to Be Defeated

    President Trump said yesterday that a formal announcement of the group’s defeat would come next week after allies take “100 percent” of its territory in Syria and Iraq. ISIS has so far failed at negotiating an end to the siege of its last village in Syria. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said a withdrawal of troops from the country would not be “the end of America’s fight” against terrorists in the region.

    What’s the state of the caliphate? According to intelligence reports the group still holds bases throughout Asia and Africa, commanding thousands of fighters.

    Don’t miss this OZY story about the cities rebuilding after ISIS.

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    US Taps World Bank Critic to Lead Group

    President Trump announced his nomination of Treasury Department official David Malpass to helm the development organization yesterday. The World Bank, which was created to fund rebuilding in Europe after World War II, financed $60 billion in projects last year around the world. Malpass, a Trump loyalist described by the administration as a “pro-growth reformer,” still needs approval from the bank’s 25-member board — of which the U.S. controls 16 percent.

    How could the bank’s policy change? Malpass is expected to steer lending away from China, directing it to poorer nations instead.

  6. Also Important…

    Former New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson has been accused of plagiarism in her tell-all book Merchants of Truth. Last year was the fourth-hottest on record according to NASA data released yesterday. And Russia declared it’s open to a new nuclear pact after Washington said it would leave the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty in six months.

    #OZYfact: Minorities made up only 10 percent of the Greenwich, Connecticut, population in 2000. Now 26 percent of residents are Black, Asian-American or Hispanic. Read more on OZY.

    We’re hiring! OZY is looking for a creative and ambitious journalist to cover business and finance. Could this be you? Check out the job description for more details … and find all our open jobs right here.

intriguing

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    Suicides Are Increasing Globally

    The total number of deaths by suicide hit 817,000 in 2016 — an increase of 6.7 percent since 1990 — according to research published today in The BMJ. While the mortality rate, or the number of years lost, actually decreased by a third during that time, suicides still accounted for 34.6 million years of life lost. The study revealed that men take their lives more often, while women attempt suicide more frequently.

    Is there any positive news? The U.K. and Sri Lanka reduced suicides, but they remain high in Eastern Europe and the U.S., where firearms are more readily available. Researchers hope increasing awareness will lead to more targeted support.

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    Dozens of Cities Are Secretly Testing Predictive Policing

    An investigation by Vice using public record requests has revealed that dozens of American police departments have contracts with PredPol, a company that claims its algorithmic predictions are so precise they can target crime-riddled areas as small as 250,000 square feet.

    Is that a bad thing? Critics say the algorithm’s focus on petty crime — or the “broken windows” approach — leads to over-policing in poor areas, and even a PredPol document acknowledges “privacy and constitutional concerns.”

    Don’t miss this OZY story on China’s robotic policing.

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    India’s Assam State Takes Center Stage in Identity Politics

    Observers of this year’s election in the world’s biggest democracy are watching this identity-tangled northeastern border state as a bellwether, OZY reports. Recent changes to a national registry stripped 4 million Assam residents of citizenship. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also wants tougher amendments targeting Muslim immigrants, while some Assamese want restrictions on all foreigners. And the indigenous Rabha are seeking more autonomy and constitutional protection.

    Will the old game win again? Modi rose to power in 2014 by consolidating the anti-Muslim vote: The success of his party in Assam will determine whether that strategy needs an update.

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    Ariana Grande Skipping Grammys After Song Spat

    Thank u, next. The 25-year-old pop star, whose new album drops Friday, won’t attend, let alone perform, at the annual music awards after producers denied her song choice. Organizers of the Feb. 10 show said Grande, who is nominated for two awards, could only sing her new track 7 Rings as part of a medley — a stipulation reportedly not imposed on other performers that “insulted” Grande.

    Does this turmoil sound familiar? Last year, Lorde — nominated for album of the year — refused to perform after being told she must sing a Tom Petty tribute rather than an original song.

    Check out OZY’s take on 21 Savage’s unsual hip-hop immigrant tale.

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    Body Recovered in Plane Crash Involving Soccer Star

    The unidentified remains brought to the surface Wednesday could be those of either Argentine striker Emiliano Sala or pilot David Ibbotson. Shipwreck hunter David Mearn helped to find the wreckage of the Piper Malibu that crashed into the English Channel last month, two days after the French club Nantes traded the 28-year-old to Cardiff City in the Premier League.

    How are the teams coping? While fans and teammates grieve, Nantes has demanded the first installment of the $20 million club-record fee for Sala, though Cardiff — which says it will honor its debt — wants an investigation first.