The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Christmas Typhoon Ravages Philippines

    Typhoon Phanfone pelted the country's central regions Wednesday with winds of up to 120 mph, leaving at least 16 people dead and sending thousands to seek refuge in government shelters. Tens of thousands of people were stranded on Christmas Day in the predominantly Catholic nation, since ferry services and airports were shut down. The storm also damaged hundreds of homes and caused widespread blackouts.

    Is the worst over? While the brunt of the typhoon has passed, some badly damaged areas still have no mobile phone or internet service with which to summon help.

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    Dozens Killed in Burkina Faso Attacks

    After two attacks Tuesday by Islamist militants killed 35 civilians — most of them women — along with seven soldiers, President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré declared two days of national mourning. Then came another attack Wednesday, in which "around a dozen" more soldiers were killed in an overnight ambush. The attacks were described as some of Burkina Faso's deadliest since unrest erupted there around five years ago, leading to more than 700 deaths and the displacement of more than half a million people.

    What's causing the violence? Some experts believe countries in Africa's Sahel region are facing a backlash for hosting foreign military forces to aid the war on terror.

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    US Online Shopping Hits Record High

    E-commerce sales in the U.S. during this year's holiday season jumped almost 19 percent from 2018, according to new statistics from Mastercard. In-store sales, meanwhile, grew a mere 1.2 percent, and this year's 3.4 percent growth in total retail sales fell short of last year's 5.1 percent increase. Digital purchases made up 14.6 percent of all sales.

    Why does it matter? Robust consumer spending — buoyed by higher wages and more jobs — is key to keeping the U.S. economy humming along.

    Don't miss OZY's Immodest Proposal to limit Amazon customers' purchases.

  4. Netanyahu Shielded From Rocket Strike

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was rushed offstage at a campaign rally in the southern city of Ashkelon last night after a rocket was fired from nearby Gaza. No casualties were reported in the incident — which mirrored a similar event in September — and no one claimed responsibility. Netanyahu returned to the stage about 12 minutes later.

    What's next for Bibi? He's facing a challenge by intraparty rival Gideon Saar in Likud's primary elections today.

    Read OZY's Special Briefing about how Bibi ended up on the ropes.

  5. Also Important...

    GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she was "disturbed" by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's suggestion that President Donald's Trump's impeachment trial would be coordinated with the White House. Iran has reportedly curbed internet access in several regions where protests are expected today. And ESPN college football reporter Edward Aschoff died Tuesday on his 34th birthday.

    #OZYfact: Orthodox Jews make up about 10 percent of America’s 5.3 million Jews. 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


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    Notre Dame Cathedral May Never Recover

    "It is not out of danger." So said Monsignor Patrick Chauvet, the rector of the fire-ravaged Paris cathedral, in a message during Christmas Eve Mass at a nearby church. He said there's a 50 percent chance it won't survive the reconstruction following an April fire that gutted the 855-year-old structure. Wednesday was the first time in two centuries Christmas wasn't celebrated inside Notre Dame's walls.

    When will it be repaired? While President Emmanuel Macron hopes reconstruction will end by 2024, experts say it'll probably take much longer.

  2. Russian Military Sends Activist to Arctic

    Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, a prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, claimed this week the military illegally kidnapped and imprisoned a 23-year-old staffer of his Anti-Corruption Foundation and sent him to an Arctic outpost. The army admitted to conscripting Ruslan Shaveddinov, claiming he's due for his one year of mandatory national service.

    What's next? Navalny says he'll sue the military, arguing the move is reminiscent of Tsarist era tactics of exiling opponents to remote regions.

    OZY explains why Russia is arming a U.S ally in Asia.

  3. Endangered Black Rhino Born in Michigan Zoo

    In a "monumental moment," a 12-year-old black rhinoceros — a critically endangered species — delivered her first calf on Christmas Eve. Officials at Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Michigan, said the unnamed male calf, who is healthy and bonding with his mother, Doppsee, won't make his public debut until spring. Both animals will be monitored closely for several weeks.

    How common are such births? Generally, two black rhinos per year are born into human care, while about 50 live in U.S. zoos and approximately 5,000 remain in the wild in southern Africa.

  4. Songwriter Behind 'Friends' Theme Dies at 72

    Allee Willis, the prolific composer of "I'll Be There for You" and Earth, Wind and Fire's "September" and "Boogie Wonderland," passed away late Tuesday. The Detroit native, who co-wrote the Broadway score for The Color Purple, was known for her unique retro and kitsch style. "I’m someone that absolutely loves writing very joyful music," Willis once said.

    How did she view her work? She was brought up on Motown and collaborated with Black artists like James Brown and the Pointer Sisters — once remarking that the Friends theme was the "whitest song" she ever wrote.

    Read OZY's feature on a hilarious Swedish show about a "bonus" family.

  5. Concussion Research Levels the Playing Field for Women

    While research into head injuries in male athletes is old news, their female counterparts are finally getting the attention they deserve. A new method by Virginia Tech researchers using mouthpieces lined with sensors will help experts track both female and male rugby players, OZY reports. The study could be a watershed moment for female athletes, who may suffer from more severe and longer-lasting concussion symptoms.

    How could it change the game? The findings could warn players of risky moves and help staff develop safer plays.