The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Russian Government Resigns to Enable New Reforms

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to implement constitutional changes, prompting his government to resign Wednesday. The announcement came after Putin proposed holding a national vote on changes that would empower the prime minister and parliament at the expense of the president. Putin has long lead Russia as either the president or prime minister for the last two decades. He has shifted between the roles since the current constitution doesn't allow anyone to serve as president for more than two terms.

    What's the catch? The reforms could give Putin extended powers as prime minister once he steps down as President in 2024.

  2. Foreign Policy, Gender Mark Pre-Iowa Debate

    Ahead of next month's Iowa caucuses, six Democratic presidential candidates sparred last night over who could best handle foreign conflicts — while Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren continued locking horns over comments about women's electability. The overarching theme, though, was their fitness to take on President Donald Trump. Meanwhile, polls show Iowa Democrats are split between four candidates: Sanders, Warren, ex-Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

    Why did this debate matter? This OZY writer argues it was probably candidates' final prime-time moment to hammer home their messages rather than simply make news.

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    New Plane Crash Video Shows Second Missile

    Newly surfaced footage of the moment Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was blown out of the sky near Tehran last week shows a second missile hitting the doomed plane. The surveillance video, which appears to show two strikes about 30 seconds apart, made the rounds on social media yesterday and could further fuel popular protests against the Iranian government.

    What else could it change? Besides raising new questions over Tehran’s reluctant admission that it shot down the airliner, the footage might explain why the plane’s transponder stopped working before the previously reported strike.

    Don't miss OZY's feature about Iran's other stockpile — of potatoes.

  4. US Senate Preps for Impeachment Trial

    Following last month's House vote to impeach President Trump, the lower chamber today will likely transmit its two formal charges to the Senate. Yesterday, Democrats released records detailing Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani's attempts to pressure Ukraine into helping the American president. They reportedly include an appeal for Giuliani to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy about a "specific request."

    What's next? After Chief Justice John Roberts takes an oath to preside over the weekslong trial, senators will vote on the hotly contested procedural rules.

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    US, China to Ink Hard-Fought Trade Deal

    After 18 months of often heated haggling, Beijing and Washington are expected to finally sign the first part of their trade deal today. At a campaign rally in Ohio, President Trump hailed the deal — in which China has agreed to buy $200 billion worth of American goods over two years — as "a big beautiful monster." But while the U.S. canceled or halved some tariffs, levies on around $250 billion in Chinese goods will remain in place.

    Is the tit-for-tat over? Experts warn that Trump could still punish Beijing, since it would need to purchase a "crazy amount" of American goods to maintain its end of the bargain.

  6. Also Important...

    Michael Flynn, President Trump's former national security adviser, said he'd withdraw his guilty plea for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the United States. Germany's economy grew by a mere 0.6 percent in 2019 — the slowest rate in years. And Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly has announced his retirement from the NFL at age 28.

    #OZYfact: An estimated 41 million Americans gave 34 billion hours of unpaid care to adult loved ones in 2017. Read more on OZY.

    OZY is hiring! We’re looking for an ambitious journalist to cover business and finance through unique, analytical and globally-minded write-ups. Check out our jobs page and read the description here.


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    Americans 'Unsure' if Vaccines Cause Autism

    Despite experts debunking the 1998 study that claimed a link between vaccines and autism, 46 percent of U.S. adults still aren't sure whether it's true, according to a new Gallup poll. While only 10 percent of Americans believe vaccines definitively are to blame, the survey also indicates that overall confidence in them fell from 94 percent in 2001 to 84 percent. Experts say herd immunity requires a 95 percent vaccination rate for diseases like measles.

    What's the bigger picture? Although the survey only involved 1,025 people, it fits the trend of declining vaccination rates across the country.

    Read OZY's feature about the world's first anti-vax fatwa.

  2. Gaming and Luxury Brands Partner Up in China

    Louis Vuitton outfitted League of Legends players. Cosmetics giant MAC designed King of Glory lipsticks. Hermès, Gucci and Dior have even launched their own games in China. These unique partnerships work, OZY reports, thanks to an unusual demographic overlap between the luxury and gaming markets. Unlike in the West, most luxury consumers in China are under 35, while women, who account for 71 percent of high-end shopping, make up 58 percent of the country's gamers.

    Can the game continue? Luxury brands have been spared in the U.S.-China trade war, while booming mobile platforms are at the heart of both shopping and gaming.

  3. Nearly 1,000 Migrants Forced Back to Libya

    This time last year, no migrants had been returned to Libya — but just two weeks into 2020, the country's coast guard has already intercepted dozens of boats to forcibly return 953 refugees and migrants to the war-torn country. That's according to the International Organization for Migration, which also said almost all of the migrants disembarked in Tripoli and were taken to detention centers. "Sometimes you get food, sometimes you don't," said one 17-year-old.

    Will they try again? Rescue workers say the escalating violence in Libya, where a civil war is raging between rival governments, means those attempting to flee will likely "repeat the cycle."

  4. Meat Loaf Sues Over Career-Threatening Fall

    In a lawsuit filed at a Dallas court, the performer, whose real name is Michael Aday, claims Texas Frightmare Weekend and a Hyatt hotel created "a hidden hazard" during a horror convention last May. The 72-year-old Dallas native fell from the stage during a Q&A session, sustaining neck, collarbone and shoulder injuries. Aday was hospitalized for 42 days and claims he has since been unable to perform.

    How did he fall? The lawsuit blames organizers for draping a curtain in a way that disguised the edge of the stage, making it appear to be solid ground.

    Read this OZY Flashback about when heavy metal thundered in Moscow.

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    Red Sox Manager Ousted Amid Astros Scandal

    Boston has fired manager Alex Cora, who led the team to World Series glory in 2018, following revelations that he masterminded the Astros' sign-stealing effort during his tenure there as bench coach. Houston GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were fired on Monday for their roles in the scandal. The MLB is now investigating whether Cora brought the same tactic, which included installing an illegal monitor near the dugout, to Boston.

    What's next for the Red Sox? The departure of Cora, who as a player spent four of his 14 seasons in Boston, leaves the team in even deeper turmoil as it scrambles for its fifth manager in 10 years.