The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Trump Impeachment Proceedings Are Going Public

    Starting today, House investigators will question witnesses in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump on live television — and both parties have prepared competing messages about Trump's conduct for the historic event. First up will be William Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and George Kent, the State Department's top Ukraine official. Both men have already described a White House effort to pressure Kyiv into providing political favors for Trump.

    How will this measure up to previous proceedings? Observers say the public mood is far more polarized than during the hearings against ex-Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

  2. Bolivian Opposition Senator Assumes Interim Presidency

    In a dramatic legislative session yesterday, Sen. Jeanine Añez claimed the right to succeed embattled ex-President Evo Morales, who fled Bolivia for Mexico on Monday following weeks of violent unrest. The country's Constitutional Court quickly backed Añez, the highest-ranking lawmaker remaining after a series of resignations, but Morales' Movement for Socialism party described her as a right-wing usurper. Añez promised to hold elections soon.

    What's next? Bolivia's political crisis will likely rage on, since Morales' supporters refused to show up to Parliament yesterday and vowed to cancel Añez's claim in a vote today.

    Don't miss OZY's Special Briefing on the Bolivian turmoil.

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    Hong Kong Plunges Further Into Violence

    The once-bustling global financial hub ground to a virtual standstill on the third straight day of clashes between police and pro-democracy protesters in its business district. Local universities — another focal point of tensions — were shuttered, while public transportation was largely suspended. At a press conference today, a police spokesman said officers had fired the equivalent of more than one tear gas canister per minute during yesterday's violence.

    What's China thinking? The central government's liaison office in Hong Kong has encouraged local authorities to crack down more harshly, warning the territory is “sliding into the abyss of terrorism.” 

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    Trump, Erdogan Seek to Smooth Tensions in DC

    Against the backdrop of impeachment proceedings, President Trump will meet his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, at the White House today in what observers say could be a useful distraction. But it won't be a straightforward sit-down: Turkey's incursion into northern Syria has riled Washington's foreign policy establishment, while U.S. sanctions loom over Ankara for its purchase of Russian-made missiles.

    Could Trump and Erdoğan find common ground? Some analysts say that'll be tough because neither is bolstered by domestic support for the meeting — so each will be under pressure to outmaneuver the other.

  5. Also Important...

    Thanks to its conservative majority, the U.S. Supreme Court appears prepared to support the Trump administration's effort to end the DACA program's protections for so-called Dreamers. Israel continued its airstrikes against Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza, with the death toll rising to 16. And Australia's High Court ruled today that Cardinal George Pell would have one final opportunity to appeal his conviction for sexually assaulting two choirboys.

    #OZYfact: South Africa alone has a natural hair market valued at more than $300 million — part of a growing continent-wide industry. Read more on OZY.

    OZY is hiring! We’re looking for a skilled full stack marketer who can help make OZY a household name. Check out our jobs page and read the description here.


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    US Hate Crime Killings Hit All-Time High

    The FBI categorized 24 murders as hate crimes in 2018, a historic total that included 11 killings at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Overall the number of hate-motivated crimes, 7,120, dipped for the first time in four years — but incidents of violence were the highest since 2001. Crimes based on anti-Muslim, anti-Black and anti-LGBT bias declined slightly last year, while attacks on Latinos have increased 60 percent over the last three years.

    How prevalent are hate crimes? According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the U.S. experiences an average of 250,000 each year, but activists warn that most aren't reported to authorities.

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    Facebook Launches Cross-Platform Payment Service

    The social media giant has unveiled a payment service enabling users to purchase items and send money — first on Facebook and Messenger, and soon on WhatsApp and Instagram. Facebook Pay is part of the platform's effort to align its services despite calls for the company to be broken up. For now, it will allow credit card, PayPal and Stripe payments, though the company expects its nascent Libra cryptocurrency will also figure in.

    What's next? It's likely to see pushback from privacy watchdogs, who warn of Facebook's plans to tie people's transactions to advertisements.

    Check out this OZY feature about blockchain helping folks find love.

  3. Climate Change Is Making the Alps a Winter Wasteland

    In Europe's iconic mountain range, ground-level air temperatures are rising nearly twice as fast as the global average, OZY reports. Winter tourism, which accounts for 80 percent of all mountain tourism revenue, could take a serious hit while the costs of related disasters like landslides and flash flooding rise. Then there are other intangibles: “How do you put a monetary price on a mountaintop covered with snow?” asks one glaciologist.

    What's to be done? For tiny Switzerland, not much: Home to a major chunk of the Alps but responsible for just 0.1 percent of global warming, it's at the mercy of much larger carbon emitters.

  4. Reports: HBO Max Planning 'Friends' Reunion Special

    It's the one with the reunion. As the world celebrates the 25th anniversary of the popular TV show, the original cast and creators are in talks with the forthcoming WarnerMedia-backed HBO Max streaming service to get Ross, Rachel and the rest of the gang back together. Sources said the deal is far from done, but speculated it would most likely be a one-time, unscripted gathering featuring the stars and crew sharing memories from the set.

    Why is a reunion likely? WarnerMedia paid $425 million to reclaim streaming rights to Friends on its upcoming platform — just as the sitcom has found new audiences on Netflix.

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    Could Colin Kaepernick Hit the Field Again?

    With only several days' notice, the NFL has arranged a private workout for the controversial former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Saturday in Atlanta. There, teams will be able to assess his athletic ability and interview Kaepernick, a free agent who hasn't played since 2016 — the year he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality. The 32-year-old claims he's been working out five days a week since then.

    Who could scoop him up? Observers say the timing of the workout means only around half of the league's teams will check him out, since the rest are either traveling or preparing for game day.