The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Trump Delays China Tariff Hike

    He’s buying time. Citing “substantial progress” in trade negotiations, President Donald Trump tweeted yesterday that he’ll extend the March 1 deadline for dramatically increasing tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports. He didn’t say how long the extension would last, but floated a possible summit with President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago if all goes well in order “to conclude an agreement.”

    What’s the biggest challenge? While the two sides have reportedly agreed on agriculture and intellectual property protections, experts say the real key for Washington is getting Beijing to budge on ending subsidies to state firms.

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    Venezuela’s Opposition Considers Its Next Move

    Following deadly clashes over the weekend between protesters and security forces, as well as mostly failed attempts to deliver humanitarian aid to Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro appears to hold the upper hand. To discuss how best to pressure him, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is traveling to Colombia today to meet with opposition leader Juan Guaidó and regional allies.

    Is military intervention likely? That’s what some experts now believe — though most are cautioning against it, arguing it would give Maduro the confrontation he’s looking for.

    Read OZY’s profile of the mogul fighting to feed Venezuela’s masses.

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    Trump Softens Tone Ahead of North Korea Summit

    “As long as there’s no testing, we’re happy.” So said President Trump as he prepared to depart for Hanoi, where he’ll meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un this week to further develop their “very, very good relationship.” Trump claimed Pyongyang could become one of the world’s “great economic powers” if it ditched its nuclear weapons, but also said he’s “not in a rush” to force the issue.

    How is Vietnam preparing? From bars and boutiques to hairdressers, vendors across the socialist nation are ready to cash in, while officials are promoting their country as “an attractive and safe destination.”

    Check out OZY’s latest Donald Dossier on Trump’s second round with Kim.

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    As Pope Addresses Abuse, Victims Push Back

    Ending a landmark summit yesterday, Pope Francis called for “an all-out battle” against sexual abuse by Catholic clergymen. Yet despite being more vocal than his predecessors, he faces criticism for failing to offer a detailed plan. One advocate called his remarks “a catastrophic misreading of the grief and outrage of the faithful.”

    What’s the most urgent step? Observers believe promoting a “zero tolerance” policy aimed at defrocking convicted priests and their superiors is a key point that the Vatican hasn’t addressed.

  5. Also Important…

    House Democrats are planning to subpoena special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his Russia probe if the Justice Department doesn’t release the full version to Congress. Support for French President Emmanuel Macron has crept up to its highest level since the outbreak of the nationwide yellow vest protests. And an Australian media watchdog has ruled that a controversial cartoon depicting tennis star Serena Williams last year was not racist.

    #OZYfact: According to a recent study, 78 percent of U.S. respondents overreported their voting histories. Read more on OZY.

    We’re hiring! OZY’s looking for an ambitious and creative podcast producer. Could this be you? Check out the job description for more details … and find all our open jobs right here.


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    ‘Green Book’ Wins Best Picture Oscar

    The film scored the top honor at Sunday’s glitzy 91st annual Academy Awards ceremony, while Roma amassed prizes for best director, foreign language film and cinematography. Olivia Colman and Rami Malek walked away with best lead performances for The Favourite and Bohemian Rhapsody, while director Spike Lee gave a fiery speech about slavery and racism after his BlacKkKlansman won best adapted screenplay.

    How will history remember the 2019 Oscars? Observers suggest notable wins by women and people of color will keep pushing the industry in a more diversity-friendly direction.

    Don’t miss OZY’s Immodest Proposal on creating gender-fluid Oscar categories.

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    Civilian Deaths in Afghanistan Reach Record High

    According to a United Nations report released yesterday, 3,804 civilians — including 927 children — were killed last year, an increase of 11 percent since 2017. A spike in suicide bombings by armed opposition groups was mostly to blame for the “deeply disturbing and wholly unacceptable” death toll. More than 32,000 have been killed since the U.N. began tracking civilian deaths in 2009.

    Is there any hope for peace? Whatever solution is reached in ongoing talks between the Taliban and the U.S. will be complicated by the fact that Afghanistan’s government isn’t participating.

    Read this OZY Special Briefing on the state of global terror.

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    China Is the New Arms Dealer for Emerging Nations

    With hard-to-beat prices and no ethical qualms about buyers, China’s becoming a key player in a weapons market traditionally dominated by the West, Russia and Israel, OZY reports. From mine-clearing robots to unmanned helicopters, its high-tech goodies are especially welcomed by countries facing U.S.-led sanctions. For example, China is helping Pakistan develop intercontinental ballistic missiles, and is providing laser defenses to Venezuela.

    What’s their next-generation lineup? Advanced naval technology and artificial intelligence systems could soon be added to China’s export list.

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    Experts Spot Security Flaws in 4G and 5G Networks

    They’re calling it out. Researchers from the University of Iowa and Purdue University have uncovered three new security gaps that could allow hackers to intercept calls and track phone locations — just like police surveillance devices currently do. They say the vulnerability is the first to affect both 4G and 5G, despite enhanced security efforts in the next-generation tech.

    Are we as safe as we think? Maybe not: Last year, the same researchers found 10 different 4G flaws that let hackers snoop on phone calls and text messages or create false emergency alerts.

    Check out OZY’s original series on fifth-generation intelligence.

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    Ja Rule Curses NBA Team After Awkward Performance

    After the official Minnesota Timberwolves Twitter account mocked the rapper’s halftime show in Milwaukee Saturday night, he “cursed” the team, saying it won’t win a championship for 30 years. Ja Rule started his set questioning why he was playing at a ’90s-themed night before technical issues delayed his performance. Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo was seen taking warm-up shots before the halftime show was even finished.

    Will this dent Ja Rule’s image? He’s not exactly living it up right now as he faces a lawsuit over his role in organizing last year’s disastrous Fyre Festival.