The Presidential Daily Brief

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  1. China's Virus Epicenter Is Under Lockdown

    With more than 580 infected and at least 17 dead, Chinese authorities are scrambling to stem the spread of the country's new coronavirus. They've suspended all flights out of disease epicenter Wuhan, population 11 million, and halted all train, bus and boat travel in and out of the city. "Nobody was ready for the lockdown," said one local. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization is waiting for more details before declaring a global public health emergency.

    What's the bigger picture? As OZY reports, this outbreak is a crucial transparency test for a regime that's used to being secretive about bad news.

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    Democrats Make Their Case Against Trump

    As opening arguments began in the Senate trial of President Donald Trump yesterday, House impeachment managers prepared the upper chamber for what they called the "remarkably consistent evidence" of his corruption. Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead prosecutor, warned that failure to remove Trump would "permanently alter the balance of power among the branches of government."

    Will we hear from witnesses? Democrats would need four Republicans to cross the aisle in order to be allowed to call witnesses — while Trump said he’d like to include testimony from White House insiders, but that it would pose a national security threat.

  3. Three Dead in Australian Air Tanker Crash

    A waterbombing C-130 Hercules dispatched to fight bushfires in southeastern Australia crashed Thursday, killing three American firefighters. While the cause remains unclear, the company subcontracted by the Australian government to conduct waterbombing missions said it has grounded all its large tankers.

    What are the latest weather conditions? In recent days, the southeast has been bombarded with hail, rain and heavy winds, leading to massive dust storms that also slung mud at Melbourne.

    Read this OZY True Story from California's Sonoma fires.

  4. Boeing CEO: 737 Max Will Soar Again Soon

    Days after ascending to the top job at the embattled planemaker, David Calhoun said he's hoping to restart production of the grounded 737 Max by April. But in his first public comments as Boeing CEO — in which he effectively shelved plans for a midmarket jet — Calhoun also said the company has been its "own worst enemy" by missing aggressive, self-imposed safety deadlines and pressuring federal authorities for quick certification.

    So what's his plan? Besides promising more transparent management, Calhoun said Boeing will keep an eye on unforeseen dangers like those that led to two fatal 737 Max crashes.

  5. Also Important...

    The International Court of Justice has ordered Myanmar to protect Rohingya Muslims from ethnic cleansing. A shooting in downtown Seattle last night left one person dead and six others injured. And in a company first, electric carmaker Tesla has reached a $100 billion stock market value.

    #OZYfact: Last year, California's Santa Rita Union School District became the nation's first with the capacity to become entirely energy self-sufficient. Read more on OZY.

    OZY is hiring! We’re looking for an analytical and globally minded reporter to sniff out today’s most important stories in science, technology and health. Check out our jobs page and read the description here.

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    Gabbard Sues Clinton. Can She Win?

    Claiming she was the victim of a smear, Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii has filed a $50 million lawsuit in New York against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Last year, Clinton referred to a "Russian asset" — without directly naming Gabbard — in comments that the presidential contender believes "intentionally damaged" her campaign. Clinton's spokesperson called the lawsuit "ridiculous."

    What will Gabbard need to prove? Legal experts say much depends on whether Clinton's comments were meant as "statements of fact" as opposed to the constitutionally protected colorful rhetoric of politics.

    Read OZY's story about how Iowa's caucuses could have three winners.

  2. Express Is Online Shopping's Latest Victim

    Expecting to lose about $90 million in sales over the next two years, the fashion retailer will shutter 31 stores this month for a total of 100 by the end of 2022. The decision comes after a particularly rough holiday season for retail outlets, which were stung by online shopping. Bed Bath & Beyond announced Tuesday that it's shutting 60 stores, while the Schurman Retail Group, operator of Papyrus and American Greetings, will close 254.

    What's next for Express? Initiatives like a new loyalty program and a company credit card could help keep existing customers and attract new ones.

  3. Brazil Loves Pesticides More Than Ever

    Although much of the world is turning away from pesticides, Brazil is an outlier, OZY reports. The industry received a major a boost in the first 100 days of President Jair Bolsonaro’s tenure, with 52 new pesticides hitting the market — among the 474 released last year. Those include chemicals that are illegal across Europe and Asia, some of which are known to cause birth defects. Meanwhile, cancer diagnoses in Brazil have jumped 75 percent since 2000.

    Can the trend be stopped? While activists say runoff is damaging the environment, Bolsonaro’s government is unlikely to back down, claiming the deadly spray is necessary for agribusiness.

  4. British Comedy Icon Terry Jones Dies at 77

    The Welsh actor, director and writer who co-founded surreal British comedy group Monty Python succumbed to dementia Tuesday. Jones is credited with helping to revolutionize British comedy with his absurdist style, on display in classics like Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Monty Python and the Meaning of Life. Though he was mainly a writer and director with the group, Jones was beloved for his appearances in minor roles.

    What stands out the most? As the mother of the title character in 1979's Life of Brian, Jones delivered the line, "He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!" — which was twice voted Britain's favorite joke.

    Check out OZY's feature about the end of self-deprecation in comedy.

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    Antonio Brown Hit With Arrest Warrant

    The disgraced NFL star has been accused of burglary with battery by a moving van driver making a delivery to his house. To avoid arrest, Brown — who's also facing sexual assault allegations — holed up inside his Hollywood, Florida, home yesterday, tweeting that he'd been slandered and posting Instagram videos of himself. Also accused in the incident is Brown's trainer, Glen Holt, who was arrested Tuesday and released on bail.

    What kind of neighbor is Brown? Fellow residents of his gated community reportedly say they've had enough of the publicity-grabbing Pro Bowl receiver and his multiple run-ins with police.