The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Iran, Trump Trade Threats as Iraq Alliance Falters

    Since Friday's U.S. drone strike killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Iran's most senior military leader, the consequences have mounted. Iraqi legislators have voted to expel foreign forces, incurring sanction threats from President Donald Trump. U.S. allies have stopped fighting ISIS to focus on defending against Iran-inspired attacks. And Tehran has vowed to ignore limits on uranium enrichment, signaling the collapse of the 2015 nuclear agreement that Trump abandoned in 2018.

    What's the latest? Iranian television showed a sea of mourners as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei prayed over the body of Soleimani, whose daughter promised death for American soldiers.

    OZY looks at the crisis' electoral impact.

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    Three Americans Die in Kenya Base Attack

    Somalia-based jihadist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for an assault on a military base in Kenya Sunday that killed a U.S. service member and two American contractors. The Pentagon said the attack — the al-Qaida-linked militant group's first against U.S. forces in Kenya — destroyed several aircraft and vehicles. Five militants were also killed at the Manda Bay Airfield in the coastal Lamu region, which U.S. counterterrorism forces use along with Kenyan forces.

    Is this linked to Iran? There's no evidence of that, but one expert said al-Shabab may have struck knowing it would draw international attention in light of Persian Gulf tension.

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    Turkish Troops Join Libyan Civil War

    Ankara has begun deploying its forces to Libya to help support the embattled internationally recognized government in Tripoli. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the move yesterday shortly after his nation's Parliament approved it. The deployment could pit Turkish forces against other regional players including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia that are backing well-equipped rebel commander Khalifa Haftar.

    How is Haftar reacting? He declared jihad and urged "men and women, soldiers and civilians" to take up arms against the new foreign forces.

    Read OZY's story about how migrants get the worst end of the conflict.

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    Mideast Markets Plunge Amid Iran-US Tensions

    The risk of a new Middle East war put investors on edge, with oil prices surging and stocks feeling downward pressure. Hardest hit were tense Persian Gulf markets, led by Kuwait's main index dropping 4.1 percent on Sunday. And despite a 2 percent benchmark oil price spike to $70 a barrel, shares of Saudi Aramco dropped 1.7 percent Sunday to their lowest level since they started trading last month.

    What's the long-term outlook? If war does come, one analyst predicted, global GDP would drop by half a percentage point because of high oil prices and a collapsing Iranian economy.

  5. Also Important...

    A Federal Aviation Administration-requested audit of the grounded Boeing 737 Max has found problems beyond its deadly software flaw, including in the wiring that controls the jet's tail. President Nicolás Maduro has attempted to take over Venezuela's National Assembly by naming a new legislative leader to replace rival Juan Guaidó. And a massive pileup on the Pennsylvania Turnpike has killed five people and injured 60 others.

    #OZYFact: A full 10 percent of homeless people in the Seattle area are Native Americans, who account for just 1 percent of the overall population. Read more on OZY.

    How do we look? Your news briefing from OZY has 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.


  1. Democratic Women Organize Behind the Lines

    Hidden in the suburbs of Republican-controlled states like Ohio lies one of Democrats' brightest hopes — women quietly organizing. They’re not the outspoken pussy-hat-wearers found in big cities, and they're more interested in changing the direction of their home states, OZY finds. Facebook pages and living rooms are hosting clandestine meetings where Trump-bashing is off the agenda and constructive discussion is the point.

    Could they turn the tide? The groups are well aware of their own demographic limitations, but know that if change is to come, convincing like-minded women they're not alone is a good place to start.

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    'Iranians' Take Over Official US Website

    A day after the U.S. killed Iran's most prominent general, hackers claiming to be Iranian breached and defaced an American government website. The home page of the Federal Depository Library Program, which publishes government documents, briefly featured pro-Iran messages, along with an image of a bloodied President Trump being punched in the face. American officials said they couldn't confirm the source of the hack.

    Does Iran have such capability? That and more: The Department of Homeland Security says it's guarding against "attacks with temporary disruptive effects against critical infrastructure."

    Check out this OZY take on how Iran could retaliate.

  3. Russia Plans for Climate Change 'Advantages'

    A warming planet could have a "prominent and increasing effect" on the historically frosty nation's development. Russia's government has published a two-year plan for adapting to climate change that lists benefits including energy savings in cold regions, expansion of agriculture and navigational opportunities in the ice-bound Arctic. It also aims to mitigate dangers such as lost permafrost, natural disasters and drought.

    Why does the plan matter? It indicates that Russia, which is warming 2.5 times quicker than the global average, recognizes climate change, despite President Vladimir Putin denying that human activity causes it.

  4. Awkwafina Makes History at Golden Globes

    Awkwafina became the first Asian woman to win a leading film actress Golden Globe for her role in The Farewell, while Taron Egerton took the corresponding statuette for Rocketman. Joker star Joaquin Phoenix and Judy lead Renée Zellweger scored dramatic acting trophies, and Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood grabbed three honors, including best musical or comedy, while 1917 secured best drama. On the small screen, HBO’s Chernobyl and Succession and Amazon's Fleabag each won two awards.

    How did Ricky Gervais do as host? Joking that it was his fifth and final gig, he didn't hold back from roasting attendees and celebs in his expletive-laden monologue.

    Don't miss this OZY flashback on the original red carpet.

  5. Mini Takes Lead in Saudi Arabian Dakar Rally

    Lithuanian driver Vaidotas Žala won the first leg of the race, a 467-mile coastal route from Jeddah to Al Wajh, on Sunday, becoming the first person since 2016 to win a Dakar Rally leg in a four-wheel-drive Mini. Fernando Alonso, aiming to be the first Formula 1 champ to win the 4,660-mile rally in the desert, placed 11th, 15 minutes behind Žala. The race concludes Jan. 17.

    Why are critics revved up? Amaury Sport Organisation, the French company that runs the competition, is accused of helping Saudi Arabia "sportswash" its human rights abuses.

    OZY examines how Gulf owners are monopolizing global sports.