The Presidential Daily Brief

Important

  1. Taliban Agrees to Cease-Fire During US Withdrawal

    Sources in the militant group said Sunday their ruling council agreed to a short break in hostilities to give Washington a chance to withdraw from Afghanistan. It's expected that Taliban leader will agree to the provision, which is a step toward bringing 12,000 U.S. service members home and ending America's longest war after 18 years.

    What other issues remain? American officials have demanded that Afghanistan not be used as a base for terrorist groups and that the Afghan government — so far sidelined in the Qatar talks — be included in final negotiations.

    OZY profiles the militant group's hidden moderate.

  2. Biden Reverses Himself While Trump 'Outs' Whistleblower

    President Donald Trump's pressure on Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden got him impeached by House Democrats. Now Senate Republicans want to turn the tables, calling Biden to testify in an impeachment trial about an alleged conflict of interest, influencing foreign policy while his son worked for a Ukrainian energy firm. Biden said Friday he'd refuse a subpoena, but Saturday said he'd comply, despite there being "no legal basis" for calling him.

    What else is going on with impeachment? Late Friday, Trump retweeted a post — from an account that appears automated — purporting to name the Ukraine whistleblower.

  3. somalia bombing attack 2013 amisom peacekeeping mission

    Scores Killed in Mogadishu Bombing

    A car packed with explosives detonated at a Mogadishu checkpoint during Saturday morning's rush hour, killing at least 78 people and injuring 50. The death toll is expected to rise in the Somali capital, where al-Shabab militants are the prime suspects, even though no one has claimed responsibility. Many of the victims were university students, while Turkish engineers were building a road nearby, media reports indicated.

    Does this help militants' cause? While a 2017 bombing that killed more than 500 people enraged Somalis, such violence raises doubts about government forces' readiness to take over for African Union troops in the months ahead.

  4. A Third Article of Impeachment?

    Next week in federal appeals court, Democrats will seek former White House Counsel Donald McGahn's testimony. They’ll be setting up a possible third article of impeachment for obstruction of justice, regarding President Donald Trump’s handling of the Russian election-meddling investigation. Meanwhile, Trump and fellow Republicans continue to blast charges at Democrats for the first two articles, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has delayed submitting to the Senate for trial.

    How does the public view this? A new survey shows more Americans — 49 percent — support passing the articles and removing the president than the 45 percent who don’t.

    This OZY op-ed predicts the chief justice's impeachment legacy.

  5. Opposition Fears End of India's Secular State

    "Go to Pakistan!" That's one Uttar Pradesh policeman's virally circulated reaction to Muslim anger in an area that saw most of India's 27 deaths and mass detentions from demonstrations this month. The Dec. 11 passage of the Citizenship Act Amendment, which helps religiously persecuted migrants but excludes Muslims, has many wondering if the the country's constitutionally enshrined secularism is all but dead.

    Where are things headed? Violence has tapered off in the last week, but Yogi Adityanath, who runs India's most populous Uttar Pradesh state, has threatened to confiscate property from demonstrators to pay for damage — perhaps inciting new unrest.

  6. Reinstated SEAL 'Evil,' Team Members Told Probe

    “The guy is freaking evil.” That’s how some members of the Navy’s elite commando team saw Edward Gallagher. Videos leaked to the New York Times feature soldiers’ statements that the special operations chief stabbed a sedated prisoner, leading to murder charges (he was acquitted). The statements, which accuse Gallagher of criminal misconduct, were inconsistent and false, his lawyer says.

    What’s at issue? President Trump has made Gallagher’s case a cause célèbre, ordering the Pentagon to restore his SEAL membership — a dispute that precipitated Navy Secretary Richard Spencer’s dismissal.

    OZY looks back at a World War II war crimes struggle.

  7. Wall Street Really, Really Liked 2019

    Is it Trumponomics? The American president's break from Republican orthodoxy on a variety of economic policies, like putting the screws to global trade, at the very least haven't hurt. The week ended as 2019 has fared: On a steady upward climb, with the tech-oriented Nasdaq stock index cracking 9,000 Thursday for the first time. Elsewhere, Brexit is helping stunt European growth and trade woes have tranquilized China's commercial leviathan.

    What about 2020? The forecasts vary wildly, from rosy odds of continued Wall Street exuberance to the bubble bursting, with perhaps an 8-percent correction next month.

  8. person in jail behind bars shutterstock 568547536

    Where a Week in Jail Can Mean Lifelong Medical Debt

    They can’t earn an income, but somehow prisoners at some county jails are expected to cover their medical costs while incarcerated, journalists in Alabama have discovered. Some legal experts say allowing crushing medical bills to damage detainees’ credit amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, which the U.S. Constitution forbids.

    Can this be resolved? The practice could be challenged in court and struck down on the basis of Alabama law, or it could continue to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has so far left the question unanswered.

    OZY investigates insurance policies that force the disabled to divorce.

  9. Also Important...

    Five people on their way to the Peach Bowl in Atlanta were killed Saturday when a small plane crashed on takeoff in Louisiana. Police have arrested a suspect in the stabbing and wounding of five people at a rabbi's house Saturday in a New York suburb, but have not announced a motive. And some 30,000 people have been urged to evacuate from the path of bushfires in Australia's southeastern state of Victoria.

    In the week ahead: On Wednesday, China plans to begin lowering a variety of import tariffs in a deescalation of its trade war with the U.S. Thursday is the 117th birthday of Japan's Kane Tanaka, who's believed to be the world's oldest person. And on Friday, the American Film Institute will hold its awards luncheon in Los Angeles.

    How do we look? You may have noticed changes to your news briefing from OZY. The same great summary of headlines from around the globe, with a new, sleeker design. Let us know what you think by replying to this email.

Intriguing

  1. H 15026933

    Can Nuclear Power Save the Earth?

    Japan’s 2011 Fukushima disaster triggered a phaseout of nuclear reactors across the world. But as the climate crisis worsens, it may be time to reconsider, argues journalist Carolyn Kormann. A study by Columbia University states if Japan and Germany had cut down on coal power instead of nuclear, 28,000 air-pollution-induced deaths and 2,400 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions could have been prevented.

    What do scientists say? According to a 2018 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, there are four climate protection pathways, all of which require major nuclear power expansion.

    This OZY op-ed argues for an atomic revival.

  2. Meet the Economist With the Full-Employment Formula

    Like many visionaries, William Darity Jr. admits his idea has been regarded as “something out of cloud cuckoo land.” But as the century’s third decade begins, his modern reboot of the Depression-era Works Progress Administration is getting a serious hearing in the corridors of power, OZY reports. The federal government would provide jobs with benefits for anyone who wants them, paid through carbon, estate or financial transaction taxes.

    Who takes this seriously? Democratic contenders Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker have spoken well of Darity’s scheme, although a supportive former adviser to candidate Joe Biden called it “a very heavy lift.”

  3. How the Pope's Lasagna Infuriated Italy's Right

    The Vatican’s halal dish was meant to welcome Muslim diners, but the right saw it as an attack on the homeland. Nothing says European culture war like what goes on dinner tables, with pork-free menus in Italy and France seen as a Trojan horse for Muslim migrants. One political observer says food is especially useful for politicians in Italy, where patriotism isn’t particularly strong. 

    Do they have a point? Culinary experts note that many Italian specialties, like spaghetti — a Chinese import — actually have foreign origins, so epicurean chauvinism is somewhat disingenuous.

    OZY examines Italy's political landscape.

  4. It's Just Not the Holidays Without Surveillance

    He’s still making a list. Back in 2014, two social scientists suggested that the ubiquitous Elf on the Shelf holiday toy — which adorably “reports” behavior back to Santa — would inure kids to constant surveillance. They were greeted as crackpots, but now it seems they had 2020 foresight. Today, college students’ phones are tracked to count attendance and everyone, it seems, is subject to secret tracking.

    Where is this taking us? While the elf doesn’t actually surveil, less obvious location- and image-capturing has backed up authorities’ once-toothless “permanent record” threats with data that may never be erased.

    OZY exposes secret surveillance apps.

  5. The Other Manning Leaves a Quiet Mark in NYC

    As the NFL closes its regular season Sunday, quarterback Eli Manning will lace up for his final Giants game. The humble play-caller has won two Super Bowls, both against the juggernaut New England Patriots, in 2007 and 2011. He didn’t brag, letting teammates take credit for wins while facing the press after losses. A Southerner, he loved the Big Apple, and its fans returned that affection.

    How will he depart? Playing backup, he won’t go out in glory as his brother Peyton did in Super Bowl 50, but he could make the NFL Hall of Fame — or try his luck with another team.