The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Muslims Needn't Fear Citizenship Law, Modi Says

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi today defended the Citizenship Law Amendment that's prompted the biggest wave of protests ever against his Hindu nationalist government. He said opponents are fomenting "a fear psychosis," spreading rumors of Muslim detention camps to undermine new immigration rules. Enacted Dec. 11, they accommodate religious persecution victims — but not Muslims.

    What's actually happening? The government is planning nationwide detention facilities for those who fail to document their citizenship and are deemed illegal migrants. Most of the 23 killed during protests have been in Assam state, where some 1 million Muslims were recently excluded from the National Register of Citizens.

  2. Washington Gridlock Gets Impeached

    After House Democrats passed two impeachment articles Wednesday, is it business as usual? Late Friday, President Donald Trump averted a government shutdown, signing a $1.4 trillion spending package negotiated with Democrats he'd raged against all week. As if impeachment oiled the works, a Space Force-launching defense bill and a North American trade agreement were also concluded.

    Could this continue? That's uncertain, but within 48 hours of gaveling impeachment votes, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi invited Trump to deliver his State of the Union address Feb. 4 — possibly during his Senate trial.

    OZY examines how Facebook restricting political ads could weaken Democrats.

  3. Christmas is Winning This Year

    Before you go enlisting Supreme Court justices in the War on Christmas, know that 77.6 percent of Americans prefer "Merry Christmas." That conflict's resolved, but take heart that new ones come out every year, like Taylor Swift's contributions to the holiday playlist. We can still argue about religion and consumerism. Even on that front, Christmas is winning, with spending dropping in Britain. 

    So what's to do? Enjoy your holidays, be they Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Festivus. Maybe try Boxing Day this year, considering we'll have to figure out what to do with those Amazon leftovers.

  4. Post-Fact Reality Shows Up in Gabon

    Gabonese President Ali Bongo gave his New Year’s address via recorded video. But many questioned whether the image of Bongo, who had suffered a stroke three months earlier, was deepfaked. Journalist Janosch Delcker finds that amid a globally accessible tech boom the evils of such digital wizardry are matched by their psychological side effect: If everything can be faked the truth becomes suspect.

    Was the Bongo mystery solved? Experts found no evidence the video was fake, but it was followed by an attempted military coup, demonstrating the harm caused by today’s digital manipulation reality.

    OZY explores Amazon rainforest-saving tech.

  5. How the Trump-Kim Detente Broke Down

    President Donald Trump’s direct denuclearization talks with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un might have seemed crazy enough to work. Yet despite flourishes of diplomacy and bromance, talks cratered at a February Vietnam summit, where Trump offered zero U.S sanctions for total nuclear disarmament. Kim reportedly scoffed at the proposal, and demanded that Trump lift sanctions in exchange for reductions, not elimination.

    Can Trump secure a deal? It’s unlikely, but Monday morning quarterbacks wonder: Could Trump have succeeded if he'd aimed to simply reduce Kim’s arsenal?

  6. Also Important...

    Hotly contested preliminary results from Afghanistan's Sept. 28 election show President Ashraf Ghani winning reelection with 50.64 percent of the vote. One Australian town has lost 72 homes as bushfires continue to rage in New South Wales. And British retailer Tesco has ceased making charity Christmas cards in China after a London girl discovered a card with a factory worker's plea to notify civil rights organizations.

    In the week ahead: Sunset is the start of Hanukkah. Today Croatian voters will decide whether to reelect their largely ceremonial president. And Thursday is the 15th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people.

    How do we look? We're changing your daily news briefing from OZY: It's the same great summary of headlines from around the globe — with a new, sleeker design. Let us know what you think via email to


  1. Immigration, Murder and ‘Carol of the Bells’

    What those “sweet silver bells/all seem to say” belies the beloved Christmas carol’s tragic origins. In Eastern Ukraine, in 1921, a Bolshevik agent fatally shot the arranger of the traditional New Year’s song — one year before the National Chorus of the short-lived Ukrainian People’s Republic introduced “Shchedryk” to the United States. It’s said that New Jersey choral director Peter Wilhousky heard the singers perform at Carnegie Hall, and went on to write the now famous lyrics of “Carol of the Bells.”

    Does the story end there? Nope. Chorus members settled in the U.S. rather than return to the turmoil of Ukraine, where some are now reviving the song’s history.

  2. Are There Really Dark Web Killers for Hire?

    Dark web hitmen have long been a scam. Hastily designed portals offer a selection of violent methods for snuffing out an individual in exchange for a bitcoin transfer, with no physical harm done. While the sites are fraudulent, those seeking services are sincere. Experts warn it’s only a matter of time before those clicks lead to offline hits — if it hasn’t happened already.

    Can law enforcement keep up? Criminal intent is difficult to differentiate from online rage, while establishing jurisdictions can also complicate investigations. 

    This OZY series probes criminal justice reform.

  3. parkland shooting white house gun control protest shutterstock 1028609638

    Kids Talk About School Shooting Drills

    “You know this is going to be a reality for some school, somewhere.” So said a Louisville, Kentucky, 10th grader who was among 20 students from around the country interviewed about school shooter drills by a gun-control advocacy periodical. Comments range from giggling under desks to an eighth grader who was “not sure if I would finish the day alive.”

    Does it traumatize students? Feelings range from boredom to fear, with one fifth grader observing, “They say it’s a drill … but they might be lying just to make sure you’re not going to panic.”

    OZY’s Special Briefing looks at shooters’ manifestos.

  4. Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dating App?

    Love is all around … and so are creepy criminals. A recent U.S. survey found that 85 percent of dating app users feel unsafe on those platforms, OZY reports. One media expert said that the only people feeling “safe” swiping for romance are “White heterosexual men.” One big reason is that any mode of anonymous meeting up, going back to newspaper classifieds, involves a risk of ending up on a dodgy date.

    Can user fears be allayed? Three-quarters surveyed said they’d feel better if apps vetted or even just allowed scoring of scary suitors, but such concerns aren’t preventing dating sites’ usage from growing exponentially.

  5. Depression Hasn’t Outrun This Ultramarathoner

    Rob Krar is a world-class runner from Ontario, Canada, who has endured multiple 100-mile races and trains to break world records. And as someone coping with depression, he isn’t afraid to push himself to that very dark place that almost every runner reaches near the end of a course.

    Does running help? Krar has derived so much solace from it that for five years he has hosted camps for those who also struggle with depression — and the therapy is mutual.

    OZY profiles an ultra-Orthodox Jewish mom who aims to run all the way to the Olympics.