The Presidential Daily Brief

Important

  1. Harry, Meghan Aren't 'Royal Highnesses' Anymore

    Their heads may be a bit lighter today. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan, will no longer carry the honorific, "royal highness" and won't be performing royal duties. But it'll cost them: They plan to repay $4.5 million in public funds for renovating their home on the grounds of Windsor Castle. Buckingham Palace announced the change Saturday, cementing arrangements the couple sought after becoming frustrated with adversarial press coverage.

    So are they out? Not entirely. While they'll lose their income for royal duties, they'll still be paid out of the estate of Harry's father, Prince Charles.

  2. Trump Team: Impeachment a 'Brazen' Election Tactic

    In its first official response to Democrats' charges for his Senate trial, President Donald Trump's defense team submitted a six-page rebuttal to articles of impeachment. It decried them as a "brazen and unlawful attempt" to reverse Trump's 2016 election and sabotage his November reelection chances. But the document didn't attempt to refute the underlying assertions that the president withheld aid to pressure Ukraine into damaging a Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

    What else is happening? Heavyweight impeachment defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz told an interviewer yesterday that Trump's acquittal would make him personally unhappy.

    OZY's Donald Dossier examines new Ukraine revelations.

  3. Iran's Moment of Truth

    This week saw some of the most strident anti-government protest in Iran, prompted by obfuscation of their military shooting down a Ukrainian airliner packed with Iranians. That happened on Jan. 8, hours after a retaliatory missile strike aimed at U.S. forces in Iraq, which despite threats from U.S. President Donald Trump, did not prompt an American military response.

    What's new about the exchange? Pentagon officials yesterday reversed earlier assertions that Tehran's barrage didn't hurt Americans, saying that eight service members have concussion-like symptoms.

    OZY security expert and former CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin assesses where the conflict and protests may be headed.

  4. shutterstock 189076856

    Is the China-US Trade Deal for Real?

    It’s what’s not there that may count the most. China promised to better protect technology and intellectual property and buy $200 billion in American products, while the United States agreed to curb tariffs. President Donald Trump says the deal will forge “a future of fair and reciprocal trade,” and investors seem buoyed, but much remains unraveled by the ongoing China-U.S. trade war.

    What’s not to like? While there are doubts about the permanency of the deal, it buys the two world powers time and steers them toward more realistic negotiations.

    OZY explains why Hollywood felt the pinch of the trade war.

  5. Putin Won’t Be Going Anywhere in 2024

    Russian President Vladimir Putin plans a raft of constitutional reforms that will help him retain power after his term ends in 2024. The changes include strict citizenship requirements for the presidency, thus ruling out top contenders, and strengthening the office of prime minister, where Putin served when term limits ended his previous presidential stint. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his ministers resigned upon the announcement, but Medvedev is returning as vice chair of the Security Council. 

    How will the changes be implemented? They'll require a nationwide referendum, which if successful could help Putin fulfill plans for a much stronger Russian military.

  6. Impeachment Trial to Take Shape on Tuesday

    Following Thursday’s swearing-in of senators, the impeachment trial of President Trump begins in earnest next week. On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled chamber will decide trial rules. Ahead of that, Trump has put big names on his defense team, including veteran constitutional lawyer Alan Dershowitz and Kenneth Starr, who led the investigation resulting in President Bill Clinton’s 1998 impeachment.

    Is the outcome in doubt? Hardly, as Republicans have the votes to acquit. But recent revelations, including those of an aide to the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, promise to make the trial interesting.

  7. Also Important...

    Scores of anti-government protesters have been injured in clashes with police in Lebanon. Puerto Rico's governor has fired the U.S. territory's emergency manager after a warehouse full of hurricane supplies was discovered. And 15 months after losing his UFC title, Irishman Conor McGregor took just 40 seconds to achieve a technical knockout against American Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone in Las Vegas last night.

    In the week ahead: Neo-Nazis, white supremacists and far-right militias are expected to converge on Virginia's statehouse Monday in a demonstration against proposed gun control measures. On Tuesday, many of the world's most influential people will convene the four-day World Economic Forum in Switzerland. And later that day, the decennial U.S. Census begins in Toksook Bay, Alaska.

    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.

Intriguing

  1. Saving the Dogs (and Cats) of War

    Pets are often left behind during disasters, especially when owners flee violence. A few brave souls in Syria are devoted to rescuing stranded pets and strays, OZY reports. Sometimes risking life and limb in combat zones to save the forlorn dogs and cats, activists like Damascus’ Rawaa Kilani arrange to reunite the animals with the humans who love them in Europe, the United States and elsewhere.

    Is it worth it? Some may balk at the $1,000-plus cost per pet, but in addition to mending owners’ hearts, such animals can be therapeutic for traumatized refugee children and veterans with PTSD.

  2. City view of New York

    Empty Condos in the Land of Homelessness

    Around 80,000 people inhabit New York City’s homeless shelters. That number is especially baffling when 3,700 apartments in Manhattan’s skyscrapers remain empty. Journalist Derek Thompson argues the reason might be because the lavish condominiums built in the past five years aren’t for locals, but for Russian oligarchs, Chinese moguls and Saudi royalty. As China’s economy and oil prices have sputtered, buyers are no longer coming. But real estate prices continue to skyrocket.

    How is this possible? It’s been dubbed “bluelining” — investors buying up properties with no intention of occupying them.

    Don’t miss this OZY series on the future of homelessness.

  3. How No Water Means No Gold for Australia

    The same drought fueling Australia’s bushfires is also threatening its mining. Gold, coal and copper extractors are exploring new ways to obtain water used to separate metals from dirt and aid mine shaft refrigeration, not to mention scrubbing dust from miners. Those ways include pumping flooded old mines and sinking deep wells as a replacement for river water now being prioritized for residential supplies. 

    How else is the industry affected? In New South Wales, which has been hardest hit, smoke, dust and haze have suspended operations at a mine belonging to one of the country’s biggest coal producers.

  4. Can Entertainers' Suicides Be Prevented?

    An imperative to perform plus pressure from social media are among the factors killing celebrities and behind-the-scenes entertainment workers alike. Star chef Anthony Bourdain, comic Brody Stevens and Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington are among recent suicides pointing to a disturbing trend that is also indicated by 87 percent of British entertainment professionals admitting to mental health issues.

    What’s being done? Some companies have sponsored employee wellness groups and invested in apps that connect patients to therapists, while filming sets have been staffed with counselors.

    OZY examines how celebs are helping teens battle their demons.

  5. Derrick Henry May Plow Titans Into Super Bowl

    First, he gouged furrows through team-of-the-decade New England Patriots. Then he plowed past Baltimore, 2019’s powerhouse. Now “El Tractorcito,” as running back Derrick Henry became for Alabama, must loosen the earth in Kansas City on Sunday to get his Tennessee Titans to the Super Bowl. Sportswriter Louis Bien contends that in this era of analytics and complex air games, Henry is 247 pounds of rough-cut football pleasure.

    Could the Titans win? The versatile Chiefs are favored, but “it’s going to take a lot of us hitting” Henry, concedes K.C. linebacker Anthony Hitchens.

    OZY infiltrates the NFL’s Haitian mafia.