The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. China Closes Cities as Virus Keeps Killing

    At least nine other cities in China's 58.5-million-strong Hubei province now face travel restrictions as the death toll in the central region's coronavirus outbreak reached 26 Friday. Temples have been closed ahead of weeklong Lunar New Year celebrations, which begin today, when hundreds of millions typically travel for one of the year's biggest holidays. Wuhan, where the outbreak began, is now trying to build a 1,000-bed hospital in 10 days to accommodate the infected.

    What's next? While the World Health Organization has held off on declaring a global emergency, its director-general said it "may yet become one."

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    Democrats Press Forward in Trump Trial

    "Right matters." By quoting impeachment witness Lt. Col. Alex Vindman, Rep. Adam Schiff pressed his party's case in the Senate yesterday, saying President Donald Trump pressured Ukraine to probe a "completely bogus" theory for his own gain. Democrats also sought to preempt White House lawyers by defending ex-Vice President Joe Biden, a central figure in a Trump narrative that claims he leaned on Ukrainian officials to bolster his son's business interests there.

    What are Republicans saying? They cast Democrats' arguments as repetitive and uninspired — with one describing the session as "Groundhog Day in the Senate."

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    Meet North Korea's New Foreign Minister

    The Hermit Kingdom has tapped a hard-line former army officer as its new top diplomat, state media reported. Experts say the fact that Ri Son Gwon has virtually no U.S. experience probably means Pyongyang is planning to take a tougher tack with Washington as denuclearization talks between the two sides remain stalled. Ri previously oversaw relations with South Korea.

    What's next for nuclear negotiations? American officials say they're aware of Ri's appointment, but that they'll stick to their plan of "slow, patient, steady diplomacy."

    Check out OZY's Special Briefing on North Korea's economic potential.

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    Ex-Wells Fargo Boss Banned From Banking

    Former CEO John Stumpf will pay $17.5 million — and be locked out of the banking business forever — for overseeing a corporate culture that led workers to create millions of fake accounts to meet sales targets. In 2013, one employee complained that they felt less stress serving in the Gulf War than working at Wells Fargo. The U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency also charged or settled with seven other former executives.

    Why does it matter? It's rare for top banking execs like Stumpf to personally face such hefty penalties.

  5. Also Important...

    Tennis star Serena Williams was handed a stunning defeat at the Australian Open Friday by 27th-seeded Wang Qiang. Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra testified in a New York court yesterday about how disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein raped her nearly 30 years ago. And President Trump said he'll release his Mideast peace plan ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington on Tuesday.

    Try This: Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB Quiz.

    OZY is hiring! We’re looking for an ambitious, Washington-based political reporter to cover the 2020 presidential election — and beyond. Check out our jobs page and read the description here.


  1. Muslim Leaders Honor Jews Killed at Auschwitz

    A group including 25 prominent Muslim leaders from more than two dozen countries visited the former Nazi death camp yesterday, joining a Jewish delegation ahead of Monday's 75th anniversary of the camp's liberation. Muslim World League leader Mohammed al-Issa called the murder of more than 1 million at the camp "an affront to all of God's children."

    What's the bigger picture? The act of solidarity sends a clear message that the communities are united against both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, especially since U.S. anti-Semitic homicides reached a record high in 2018.

    Don't miss OZY's profile of Iceland's only rabbi.

  2. The Sleep Whispering Industry Is Rising

    What’s the price of a good night’s rest? In 2017, it totaled up to $40 billion. Thanks in part to an increasing number of experts and gurus, the sleep health industry is growing by around 8 percent annually, OZY reports. Shift workers, parents of fussy infants and elite athletes are turning to sleep coaches like Connecticut-based Ingrid Prueher, who identify the daily obstacles preventing them from getting the recommended amount of shut-eye.

    What's good rest all about? Innovators are creating sleeping aids that harness the power of new technologies — and off-the-wall ideas, like Prueher's yawning alarm clock designed to train children on healthy sleep.

  3. America Cracks Down on 'Birth Tourism'

    The Trump administration unveiled restrictions yesterday aimed at curbing what it calls "birth tourism." Authorities will now deny visas to women they suspect are traveling stateside just to give birth in a bid to secure U.S. citizenship for their child. The White House says the policy closes an immigration loophole and alleviates a burden on hospitals and taxpayers.

    How many people will the policy impact? While the State Department noted that it's difficult to give specific numbers, it estimates that "thousands of children" are born to foreign parents on American soil each year.

    Check out OZY's Special Briefing on the end of birthright citizenship.

  4. Veteran PBS Anchor Jim Lehrer Dies at 85

    The Kansas native who helped set the standard for television journalism during his four-decade tenure as anchor of PBS NewsHour died at home Thursday. Beyond mentoring dozens of colleagues, Lehrer was praised for his coverage of the Watergate scandal, which earned him and partner Robert MacNeil an Emmy in 1973. Also notable was his stern moderation of presidential debates for two decades. He retired from PBS in 2011.

    How did it all begin? While a young reporter in Dallas, Lehrer covered the presidential motorcade that would be John F. Kennedy's last — an incident he said made him "aware of the fragility of everything."

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    Antonio Brown Surrenders to Police

    There's no locking out the law for the disgraced NFL wide receiver, who turned himself in to Florida authorities last night to face charges of burglary with battery over a Tuesday incident. Brown allegedly refused to pay $4,000 in shipping costs after a truckload of designer apparel took more than six weeks to reach his house. He then reportedly threw a rock at the truck and physically attacked the delivery driver.

    What's next? The 31-year-old Pro Bowl athlete remains in custody pending a bond hearing today — while he still faces an NFL investigation into allegations of sexual assault.