The Presidential Daily Brief

Important

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    Five Sentenced to Death for Khashoggi Murder

    A Saudi court has sentenced five people to death for the October 2018 murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the nation's consulate in Istanbul. Saudi Arabia's top prosecutor made the announcement, adding that three others had been sentenced to life in prison. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country's de facto leader, has been condemned internationally for the death and dismemberment of the Washington Post columnist, but he maintains he did not order the slaying.

    Who got off? A former top adviser to the prince, Saud al-Qahtani, had been implicated but the official investigation cleared him.

    OZY's Special Briefing examines the killing.

  2. China Cuts Tariffs as Agreement Nears

    As U.S. and Chinese negotiators work out the details of a much anticipated "phase one" trade agreement, Beijing plans to cut some tariffs Jan. 1 for all trading partners. It will introduce temporary rates — even lower than those offered to countries with most-favored nation status — on 850 products, including pharmaceuticals, tech components and pork, which is in short supply amid China's African swine fever crisis.

    Where does this put trade talks? It's difficult to say: Neither side has released drafts of the agreement, though China agreed to buy more American goods, while the U.S. said it would cancel new tariffs and lower existing ones.

  3. White House Emails Prompt New Trial Demands

    The U.S. Senate is planning for President Donald Trump's impeachment trial next month, but House Democrats still haven't sent the articles of impeachment over. Yesterday they again demanded high-level witnesses after newly unveiled emails showed White House budget officials ordering the Pentagon to withhold aid to Ukraine in July — 90 minutes after Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart to help discredit former Vice President Joe Biden.

    What is the president saying? At a Florida rally Saturday, he vowed not to "surrender our country to a raging left-wing mob."

    OZY examines how digital ad curbs hurt the left.

  4. India Protests Grow as Modi Defends Citizenship Law

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday 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 the new immigration rule. Enacted Dec. 11, the law fast-tracks citizenship for religious persecution victims — but not Muslims.

    Is Modi's support holding up? While his popularity has been strong, winning reelection this spring, his BJP party appears headed for defeat today in elections in eastern Jharkhand state.

  5. Also Important...

    An American soldier has been killed in Afghanistan — the 20th such death this year. As record heat and fires beset Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he won't make "reckless" coal industry cuts for the sake of climate action. And a 69-car pileup on an icy Virginia highway early Sunday left dozens with injuries, some life-threatening.

    #OZYFact: Established risk factors, such as inherited genetic mutations, family history and obesity explain only 30 to 40 percent of breast cancer cases. Read more on OZY.

    How do we look? We've changed 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 in an email to inquiries@ozy.com.

Intriguing

  1. Prisoner Plea in Christmas Card Spurs Ban by UK Retailer

    It seemed like a prank. That's what London 6-year-old Florence Widdicombe thought when she opened a Christmas card out of a box from supermarket chain Tesco. "Forced to work against our will," read a note inside from "foreign prisoners" in Shanghai's Qingpu Prison. "Please help us and notify human rights organisation." It also said to contact a British journalist who served two years in that Chinese prison, which Widdicombe's family did.

    What was the reaction? Tesco is investigating, saying its policy forbids suppliers from using prison labor, and has suspended the factory that produced the cards.

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    NY Times: Popular Emirati App Is a Spying Tool

    The United Arab Emirates is using its ToTok chat app, widely used in the Middle East and growing elsewhere, to follow conversations and even track user locations, a New York Times investigation has found. ToTok is owned by a holding company believed to be a front for Abu Dhabi-based DarkMatter — a hacking company staffed by former U.S. and Israeli intel operatives that's being probed by the FBI for possible cybercrimes.

    What should users do? Experts say unless you want the UAE all up in your business, delete the app, which has already been removed from Google and Apple's app stores.

    OZY surveils apps that violate your privacy.

  3. Boeing Spacecraft Lands After Disappointing Flight

    "I can't wait to try it out." NASA astronaut Mike Fincke was excited about the Starliner's successful landing yesterday — the first for a crew-capable space capsule on U.S. soil — but otherwise Boeing's passenger spacecraft failed its test. A clock error wasted fuel after Friday's launch, leaving it unable to reach the International Space Station as planned and forcing the eight-day mission to be cut to two.

    What's the impact? Since Starliner didn't demonstrate its docking ability, NASA must decide whether to repeat the test or go ahead with Fincke's crewed test flight next year.

    OZY profiles a space anthropologist.

  4. Ranking Your Xmas Movies for Laughs

    Can't decide which flick will imbue you with just the right amount of holiday spirit? OZY recommends a podcast to help: Sisqo and Tree Bird Present a Christmas Podcast Spectacular on Ice! In each episode, Quinta Brunson and Kate Peterman turn the War on Christmas into the Battle of the Christmas films, pitting holiday classics against unlikely competitors, like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer versus Die Hard.

    Do they have expertise? Brunson's got the comedic chops, cutting it up on A Black Lady Sketch Show, but was raised a Jehovah's Witness — while Peterman's Catholic upbringing provides the Christmas experience.

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    Wizards' Isaiah Thomas Benched for Fan Confrontation

    "Don't be disrespectful. I'm a man before anything." That's what the Washington Wizards guard says he told two Philadelphia 76ers fans who taunted him with obscene words and gestures Saturday night. The problem was, Thomas did so from within the stands, where players are forbidden during games. The hecklers were banned from the arena for a year while the NBA suspended Thomas for two games.

    Isn't that severe? The NBA said it always enforces its "bright-line rule" keeping players and fans apart in order to protect all concerned from altercations that could escalate.

    OZY finds a third of the NBA's teams are doomed by Christmas.