The Presidential Daily Brief


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    NBA Legend Kobe Bryant Dies in Helicopter Crash

    Basketball fans around the world are mourning the loss of the legendary Los Angeles Laker, who was among five people killed Sunday morning in the Calabasas, California accident. There were no survivors, and ESPN reports that Bryant's 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, is among the dead. "There was a big fireball," said one eyewitness. "No one could survive that."

    What's Bryant's legacy? Having led the Lakers to five NBA championships, the three-time MVP is fourth on the league's list of all-time scorers, with 33,643 points.

  2. Xi: 'Grave Situation' as Coronavirus Toll Hits 56

    The respiratory contagion that's locked down travel for tens of millions of Chinese has claimed 56 lives, with 13 new fatalities and 323 new cases reported Saturday by officials in Hubei province. That's the epicenter of an international outbreak that's infected nearly 2,000 people in eight Asian nations, Australia, America and France. Hong Kong declared a health emergency and cancelled Lunar New Year celebrations, while Taiwan has banned Hubei tour groups.

    How is China responding? President Xi Jinping warned that his nation faced a "grave situation" as the country announced a ban on tour groups leaving China starting Monday.

    OZY examines China's outbreak transparency.

  3. Trump Defenders Open Impeachment Trial Rebuttal

    The evidence shows he's innocent. That's how President Donald Trump's defenders opened their case in the Senate Saturday to keep him in office. Democratic House impeachment managers' prosecution last week did not prove that the president pressured his Ukrainian counterpart for political favors, the defense team contended during their two-hour presentation. Even a transcript of a phone call between the two didn't explicitly prove that, they said.

    How did Trump react? A source told Fox News the president regarded the "effective oral arguments" as a "mandate" to quickly end the impeachment trial — expected to result in a highly partisan acquittal vote.

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    UK All But Set to Leave EU on Friday

    After 46 years, the United Kingdom is set to leave the European Union on Jan. 31. Queen Elizabeth II has approved Britain’s Brexit bill, and on Friday, the heads of the European Commission and Council signed the withdrawal agreement. On Wednesday, the European Parliament is expected to add its stamp to the divorce.

    Is that the end? No. Relations will continue as though Britain remained in the bloc until the two parties work out their future trading and other relationships, with what EU leaders consider an exceedingly tight deadline of the end of the year.

    OZY looks at how Poles are fleeing Britain.

  5. The Great (Alleged) Tax Refund Robbery

    As an investment, you couldn’t beat the 1-for-1 returns. But German authorities, having lost $30 billion, are prosecuting investment managers who masterminded the cum-ex (“with-without” in Latin) investment vehicle. The carefully timed transactions involved buying and selling stocks, then collecting two refunds for taxes withheld only once. Other European countries, including France, Spain and Italy, were also hit by the scheme that some contend isn’t technically illegal.

    Who’s implicated? Centered in London, cum-exers included German banks fresh off government bailouts, along with British and U.S. institutions, all of whom may have to surrender gains if prosecutors prevail.

  6. Also Important...

    The death toll from Friday's earthquake in eastern Turkey has reached 31. The Pentagon says 34 U.S. troops at an Iraqi base hit by Iranian missiles suffered traumatic brain injury after President Trump described soldiers' complaints as "headaches and a couple of other things." And amid a crisis over deadly 737 Max design, Boeing yesterday successfully test-flew the world's largest twin-engine plane, its 777-X.

    In the week ahead: Today Peruvian voters elect a new Parliament after its September dissolution. Monday is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz, where nearly 1 million Jews and 125,000 others were systematically murdered during World War II. Michael Flynn, President Trump's former national security adviser, will attempt to withdraw his guilty plea for lying to authorities.

    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.


  1. How Fossil Fuel Extraction Spreads Radiation

    When fossil fuels are pumped out of the ground, liquid waste from the bowels of the Earth comes with them. Innocuously named “brine,” it’s often radioactive, says a new investigative report. U.S. haulers are told their loads aren’t harmful, but one suspicious handler had samples tested, to find that they were contaminated with radium in quantities 140 times the limits set by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

    What happens to it? The waste leaks into waterways, is stored in dumps, used in commercial products and even spread on roads as a de-icer.

    OZY remembers when X-rays were used for hair removal.

  2. Is This Congresswoman the Next Vice President?

    Democrats hope the Senate impeachment trial will be the undoing of President Trump, but they could also be the beginning of Florida Rep. Val Demings' rise. The congresswoman was unopposed for a second term in 2018 and last year became one to watch in the House, OZY writes. With Democratic presidential hopefuls eyeing the finish line, Demings is emerging as a top-notch potential running mate.

    How will a short list look? With a candidate almost certainly set to be White — and a man, at that — Democrats will be on the lookout for a savvy woman of color.

  3. They’re Mad as Hell, and as Real as Bigfoot

    Her sister was murdered by immigrants; her brother praises her bravery and fears for her safety. Facebook posts record an emotional family reunion. The problem? Alice Bergman of eastern Germany, along with Facebook personae from 30 nations, was shown in a recent investigative report to be fake. The problem is so enormous that the social network says it has deleted billions of fakes — in 2019 alone.

    What are they doing? Many of the bogus "friends" promulgate political propaganda, as in the case of the families and friends of immigrant “murder” victims. They’re also used to send malware via private messages.

  4. How Rotten Tomatoes Conquered Hollywood

    It's become the unrivaled arbiter of what’s good, and as such, haters abound, many of whom complain about the site’s “algorithm.” But it doesn’t have one, its editors maintain. The humans who curate reviews are faced with a binary choice: “fresh” or “rotten,” which distresses those whose write-ups are nuanced. And critics wonder how a corporate-owned review site can remain unbiased.

    Is it changing? Rotten Tomatoes has tweaked its numerical user ratings to mitigate trolls’ influence, and it’s going back to the birth of cinema to rate old films.

    OZY takes a look at the future of film.

  5. Shanahan’s Running Backs Come Out of Nowhere

    Within just four months in 2015, Raheem Mostert was cut by three NFL teams. Last Sunday, he rushed for a record 220 yards to vault the San Francisco 49ers into the Feb. 2 Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs. And Mostert isn’t the only one: Niners coach Kyle Shanahan continues the tradition established by his father, Mike, of transforming unheralded running backs into championship-worthy contenders.

    How does Shanahan do it? Zone blocking, which works for both running and passing plays, and with the help of an informal adviser: His dad.

    Read OZY’s Immodest Proposal to do away with America’s worst all-star game.