Start your day smarter with a dossier on the most important world news, rounded off with a shot of intriguing and offbeat stories. Like the president, you deserve no less.
Dec 13, 2021
As many as 50 tornadoes tore through the U.S. South and Midwest this weekend, hitting Kentucky the hardest. Venerated Fox news anchor Chris Wallace announced he’ll be taking his talents to CNN’s new virtual streaming platform. Facebook further signals that misinformation is not its responsibility, even when spread through their platform. And a new defense contract between South Korea and Australia has China up in arms. All this and more in today’s Presidential Daily Brief.
1 - A Day for Deadly Weather
Tornadoes rip through the Midwest and South leaving death in their wake
Kentucky was pummeled this weekend as twisters flattened entire towns across the Midwest and South, with some predicting a death toll of over 100. At Mayfield Consumer Products an especially tragic scene unfolded when workers had but a few second’s warning before a tornado tore through the factory, killing eight out of a staff of 110 with another eight still missing. The storms were highly unusual at this time of year, when cold weather should limit the number of tornadoes. But more unpredictable weather can be expected countrywide as rising temperatures result in unseasonable … and unprecedented … weather patterns. (Sources: AP, CNN)
2 - Shadowy Group Uncovered
Secret government group digs into journalists' private lives
Asecretive Customs and Border Protection division has been digging into the personal lives of prominent U.S. journalists and others, according to a Yahoo investigative report released this weekend. With access to sensitive databases — and few rules — division members also obtained the private information of members of Congress and their staff, government officials and NGO workers, said the report. Hundreds of documents obtained by Yahoo suggest that as many as 20 journalists were targeted to learn their confidential sources. The government has not fully responded to the allegations, but one agent involved said he was just following orders. (Source: Yahoo)
3 - It’s Society, Man
Facebook says misinformation is the public’s responsibility not social media’s
In an interview with Axios on HBO, Facebook executive Andrew Bosworthdoubled down on the narrative that misinformation is the responsibility of individual users to detect, not social media companies. Flying in the face of critics, Bosworth defended Facebook’s record, asserting the company “ran probably the biggest COVID vaccine campaign in the world” and wondering what more the social media giant could do against those determined to both disseminate and seek out misinformation about the vaccine and politics. Facebook has been in the hot seat for its failure to combat misinformation on its platform. (Source: TheHill)
4 - Unlikely Alliances
Australia and South Korea sign $720 million defense deal
TheSouth Korean defense firm Hanwha will furnish the Australian military with artillery weapons, radar and supply vehicles, Australia announced Monday. Worth about a billion Australian dollars, the contract is the biggest Australia has signed with any Asian country and risks aggravating already strained relations between Australia and China. In September, China strongly condemned Australia’s deal to build nuclear-powered submarines with help from the U.S. and the United Kingdom. President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia agreed to formalize and upgrade relations between the two nations to a “comprehensive strategic partnership.” (Sources: ABC News, NYT)
5 - Briefly
Here are some things you should know about today:
Coronavirus cases rise in almost every U.S. state. The CDC estimates that as many as 1 in 3 people has been infected in the U.S. (Source: CNN) Mark Meadows allegedly claimed National Guard would protect supporters of former President Donal Trump in January 6 attack. The claim comes from a report that recommends Meadows be held in contempt of Congress. (Source: NBC News) Acclaimed Fox News anchor Chris Wallace announced he will leave Fox News to work for CNN. After 18 years at Fox, Wallace will join CNN’s new streaming service in the new year.
Watch Author Heather McGhee
Has the News Become
1 - Remembering ‘El Rey’
Icon of traditional Mexican Ranchero music has died at 81
Vicente “Chente” Fernández, a beloved figure in Mexican music, died yesterday after months of illness due to a fall last August at his Guadalajara ranch. An icon across the country, Fernández was known as “the king” — or “El Rey” — of Mexican ranchera music, a genre rooted in the cultures and histories of rural México. Throughout his 60-year-career, Fernández championed traditional Mexican values, distinguished by his bushy mustache and flashy head-to-toe costume of the charro, a Mexican cowboy. Over dozens of albums and three Grammy awards, El Rey never lost sight of México’s working-class country folk. (Source: NPR)
2 - Alibaba Bungles
Woman fired over accusations of sexual assault
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba insists a female employee who accused a colleague and a client of sexual assault has slandered the firm and its reputation. The employee, who claims a colleague raped her while she was unconcious in a hotel room, made her accusation public in August when Alibaba failed to take action. Although the male coworker was fired, all criminal charges against him were dropped. In her dismissal letter, Alibaba said the woman’s accusation “had a bad impact on the company.” The case has been highly publicized in China as harassment against women in the workplace takes center stage. (Source: BBC)
3 - Here She Is, Miss Universe
Harnaaz Sandhu of India becomes Miss Universe 2021
This year’s competition, hosted in Israel, was controversial for more than moving forward during Covid. Two weeks before the competition, the Israeli government closed borders due to fears of the new omicron variant, forcing fans and tourists to change travel plans in a chaotic last-minute frenzy. Host Steve Harvey was roundly criticized during the competition for asking Harnaaz Sandhu to do an animal impersonation, viewed as inappropriate and patronizing. (Sandhu, for her part, meowed). On the political front, South Africa threatened to boycott the competition, citing Israel's Palestinian “apartheid.” Its contestant, Lalela Mswane, was second runner-up. (Source: CNN)
4 - Warmer Days Ahead
The continental U.S. may see its hottest winter ever
The National Weather Service is predicting that a historic heat wave moving across the continental U.S. could make this the warmest December on record. No, that’s not a good thing — at least for the planet. Though the West should finally see rain as the jet stream shifts to the south, the shift will likely create a massive ridge of high pressure above the central U.S. causing higher temperatures. Some areas could see temperatures 20 to 40 degrees higher than usual. We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but dreams of a white Christmas this year may remain just that. (Source: Axios)
5 - Putin’s Lament
Russian President Vladimir Putin worked as a taxi driver during tough times
In a documentary on Russian history released Monday, Vladimir Putin admitted to having worked as a cab driver to make ends meet. At a time when taxis were rare in the beleaguered country, Putin said he had to "earn extra money by car, as a private driver" after the country fell — and its economy with it. Putin is known to have worked as a KGB agent before the Soviet Union's collapse. Some speculate that his decision to discuss the dissolution of “historic Russia," as he referred to the former Soviet Union, might have implications for his intentions toward Ukraine. (Source: BBC)
Join Our Team!
1 - OZY is hiring for the following roles:
Senior Editor — Looking for an experienced, talented and snappy writer and editor to help grow our flagship morning newsletters. Ideally based in Asia, Africa or Europe to capitalize on time zone differences.
Tech Lead — Looking for a superstar who wants to leverage tech to help us broaden our editorial offerings, grow our audience and increase revenue. Must have strong experience and capability with newsletters as well as web, app, social and IT.
Marketing Chief — Looking for a terrific head of marketing with strong social media skills.
If you are interested, please send a resume and cover note explaining why you want to join our team to firstname.lastname@example.org.
OZY is a diverse, global and forward-looking media and entertainment company focused on “the New and the Next.” OZY creates space for fresh perspectives and offers new takes on everything from news and culture to technology, business, learning and entertainment.