The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Iranians Protest After Jet-Downing Admission

    After repeated denials, Iranian officials said Saturday that their military forces mistakenly shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 last week, killing all 176 aboard. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed his "deep sympathy" to victims' families, who are mostly Iranian, and called for the military to investigate "probable shortcomings and guilt." Other officials, meanwhile, blamed fear of a U.S. attack — hours after Iranian missiles blasted American-occupied bases.

    How have Iranians reacted? After economic protests were brutally suppressed in November, anger has flared anew, with hundreds protesting in the capital, decrying the government's initial denials.

  2. Ravens Fall in Titanic Upset

    "We just beat ourselves." Thus did once-presumed NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, who threw two interceptions and fumbled Saturday, assess his team's shocking 28-12 divisional playoff loss. Seeded sixth in the AFC, the Tennessee Titans brought their A-game to Baltimore, which had won its previous 12 games to become the league's brightest star behind Jackson's pinpoint passing and running prowess. But they couldn't stop Tennessee tailback Derrick Henry, who ran for 195 yards and even threw a touchdown pass on a trick play.

    Who's next? The victors advance to the AFC championship next Sunday, facing the winner of today's Kansas City-Houston game.

    OZY analyzes Marshawn Lynch-a-phobia.

  3. Eleven Deaths Blamed on US Storms

    Wind, rain and ice battered the American South and Midwest Friday and Saturday, causing 11 fatalities, choking transportation and leaving hundreds of thousands without electricity. Icy roads caused accidents that killed a policeman and a firefighter in Texas and a truck passenger in Iowa. Meanwhile, a tornado killed three people in Alabama and strong winds in Louisiana hurled a mobile home, killing two, and toppled a tree, fatally crushing a man in his bed. In Chicago, more than 1,100 flights were canceled.

    Is it over? While the storms have diminished, gusty winds and ice are expected to endanger travelers and disable power lines today.

  4. America's Shortest War

    By Friday, it was clear that a seemingly inevitable U.S.-Iran war had been avoided, though curious details were still emerging — like a failed airstrike in Yemen against an Iranian Quds Force colleague of Gen. Qassem Soleimani. The top commander's death had prompted an Iranian missile barrage Tuesday against Iraqi bases hosting American forces, after which both sides promptly and improbably stood down.

    What fallout remains? Even some of President Donald Trump's fellow Republicans have demanded details of the reportedly "imminent" Soleimani-planned attacks, which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday included American embassies.

  5. US, China Prepare to Ink Trade Deal

    Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is headed to Washington to sign the first part of a new trade deal between the two bickering nations. In a scheduled Wednesday signing, China's expected to increase American agricultural imports and address intellectual property and technology concerns. For its part, the U.S. will ditch plans for further tariffs and reduce other duties.

    Is an end in sight? Although President Trump has promised he’ll visit Beijing to work out the second phase, he's now suggesting that'll need to wait until his prospective second term.  

    OZY takes a look at America’s rep in China.

  6. The Sussexes Seek New World Order

    The announcement that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will step back from being senior royals might spark Britons to search their souls. Namely: Is the Fleet Street press corps entitled to go medieval on anyone who deviates from monarchic tradition? In today’s media battle, the Duke of Sussex says he’s reminded of the fatal, paparazzi-involved 1997 car crash that killed his mother, Princess Diana.

    What makes this controversy new? It features royals fighting back — not merely maintaining the "stiff upper lip" as tradition demands.

  7. Also Important...

    Libya's embattled government and its main rebel faction have agreed to a tenuous ceasefire brokered by Turkey and Russia. Serena Williams has won her first tennis singles title since 2017 at New Zealand's Auckland Classic. And Taiwanese voters have reelected President Tsai Ing-wen, who defeated a Beijing-friendly challenger Saturday. .

    In the week ahead: Next week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to transmit articles of impeachment for President Trump to the Senate for a trial, ending a protracted delay. And on Monday, Clemson plays Louisiana State University for the NCAA football championship.

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  1. The Tweets Heard Round the World

    Twitter, many believe, is the devil’s playground when it comes to international relations, with impulsive posts wiping out years of cautious diplomacy. So it seemed Tuesday, after Iran fired missiles at Iraqi bases used by the Pentagon. Iran’s foreign minister, @JZarif, then tweeted that his nation had “concluded proportionate measures.” Thirteen minutes later, @realDonaldTrump tweeted, “All is well,” and didn’t vow retaliation.

    What does this demonstrate? Journalist Garrett Graff suggests that microblogging gave belligerent Washington and Tehran real-time communications to avoid escalation — something major powers have struggled to maintain since the Cold War.

    OZY recalls the enemies who united to fight ISIS.

  2. Russia Is Revising Gulag History

    What they don’t know still hurts. Official records of the deaths and suffering of millions sent to the notorious 20th-century Gulag prisons are being whitewashed in President Vladimir Putin’s Russia. For instance, one camp made into a memorial museum after the Soviet Union’s 1991 dissolution focuses on its detainees’ heroic supply of timber for fighting the Nazis. Today, nearly half of young Russians are unfamiliar with the murderous Stalinist purges.

    Can this history be saved? Some records have been preserved, and a recent video series features survivors describing the brutality of the camps and the system that fed them.

  3. beeshutterstock 431149849

    Your Almond Milk Is Killing Bees

    This may not go down well. The world’s $1.2 billion in almond milk sales have increased demand for the nuts, 80 percent of which are grown in California’s Central Valley. But environmentalists blame that concentration of monoculture for killing a third of U.S. bees last winter. It’s creating stress that makes bee colonies, awakened early from winter dormancy, vulnerable to disease and pesticides.

    Are there solutions? Some growers are replacing barren, chemically treated ground between trees with wild plants, making a healthier home for pollinators.

    OZY profiles a Tunisian bee rescuer.

  4. Femdot Has Hip-Hop Down to a Science

    Like many second-generation Nigerian Americans, Femi Adigun of Chicago didn’t stop his education with high school. He pursued a biological sciences degree — and a rap career, OZY reports. At age 24, after more than a decade of creating, the artist known as Femdot is finally getting his hip-hop degree: The past year saw him drop his debut album, Delacreme 2, host a sold-out concert, and rock out at Lollapalooza. He now he boasts 1.1 million Apple streams.

    Is Femdot a flash in the pan? He's a “long-term artist,” says one Audiomack curator, and he’s just released another album, 94 Camry Music.

  5. Green Bay’s Little Aaron Stands Tall

    Like Green Bay star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Packers running back Aaron Jones was overlooked as a college prospect, and being 5-foot-9 didn’t help. But Jones has defied expectations, gaining 4,000-plus yards as an undergraduate and averaging 5.5 yards per carry as a pro last year. Now he’s a fantasy football favorite, and his stellar stats are being counted upon for this weekend’s divisional playoffs.

    Who is he up against? Once fans finish shoveling the snow off Green Bay’s Lambeau Field on Sunday, Jones will get a chance to live up to his “dangerous weapon” rep against the Seattle Seahawks.