The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Foreigners Pulled From Virus-Hit China

    As the coronavirus death toll reached 132 and the number of infections — now nearly 6,000 — surpassed the confirmed cases of SARS during that epidemic, Japan and the U.S. yanked their citizens from outbreak epicenter Wuhan on Wednesday. British Airways has also suspended all flights to and from mainland China, and Hong Kong medical workers are demanding that authorities cut off "all non-crucial and unnecessary passengers" headed to the territory.

    Is there any good news? An Australian research team has recreated the virus, meaning they're closer to developing a vaccine, while the World Health Organization says it's confident China can contain the outbreak.

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    GOP Starts to Sweat Over Witnesses

    They're defending that Hill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly told his GOP colleagues yesterday the votes just aren't there to block all testimony at President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. "It was a serious family discussion," said one lawmaker. Meanwhile, Trump's lawyers did their best to disparage ex-national security adviser John Bolton's account of the president putting pressure on Ukraine for political help.

    Are the Republicans in trouble? GOP leaders believe they'll get the votes, saying McConnell's comments were really a message to party members to not break ranks.

    Read OZY's Newsmaker profile of the impeachment vote everyone's watching.

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    Bryant Helicopter Lacked Safety Feature

    The Sikorsky S-76B that crashed into a California hillside Sunday, killing NBA icon Kobe Bryant and eight others, wasn't equipped with a recommended warning device, according to aviation authorities. A National Transportation Safety Board official said a terrain awareness and warning system could've allowed the pilot to pull up sooner, but she didn't say it would've prevented the crash. She added that the Federal Aviation Administration refused NTSB efforts to make the system mandatory for all helicopters.

    Does that answer any questions? It's still unclear what led the aircraft into a minute-long, 1,200-foot descent — and it could be more than a year before a final NTSB report is released.

  4. Palestinians Pan Trump's Mideast Plan

    "Our rights are not for sale." That's how Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reacted to President Trump's vision, unveiled yesterday, for an independent Palestinian state virtually surrounded by Israel. While Trump called it a "win-win solution," critics say the plan seeks to settle the decadeslong conflict mostly on Israel's terms — especially since it approves existing Israeli settlements deemed illegal by most of the international community.

    What's the bigger picture? With the Palestinians boycotting the process from the beginning, analysts say the bigger question is how much deeper the plan will bury Palestinian aspirations for statehood.

  5. Also Important...

    Posting record revenue in the previous quarter, Apple also reversed its recent decline in iPhone sales. No casualties were reported in the 7.7 magnitude earthquake that struck between Cuba and Jamaica yesterday. And 50 American troops are now known to have been diagnosed with brain injuries after last month's Iranian missile strike on two Iraqi bases.

    #OZYfact: Since 2013, more than 620 doctors have left Croatia. Read more in OZY's new investigation of the country's rising "womb violence."

    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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    Harvard Prof Charged With Hiding China Ties

    That'll teach him a lesson. Prominent chemistry professor Charles Lieber has been arrested and charged with lying about his work with a Chinese government program supporting foreign researchers. He allegedly told the U.S. Justice Department he'd never been part of China's Thousand Talents Plan — even though he'd used it to establish a research lab in Wuhan years earlier. In the same period, Lieber was awarded $18 million in U.S. government grants for research on nanoscale biological machinery.

    What's the big deal? Officials worry the Thousand Talents program won't just erode U.S. tech supremacy by luring its best minds to work for China, but it'll open the door to scientific espionage.

  2. Nike Sells Out of Kobe Bryant Gear

    Call it merch madness. Just two days after the NBA star's death, the Oregon-based retailer said all its Kobe-related merchandise had been bought out. That contradicts earlier reports that Nike pulled it from the market to avoid the appearance of profiteering. But apparently not everyone got the message: More than 65,000 pieces of Bryant memorabilia have flooded eBay, including one listing offering a signed 1996 rookie card for $1 million.

    What's next for Nike? A new color of the Kobe 5 Protro sneaker was slated to launch Feb. 7, but the company reportedly hasn't decided whether to kick it down the road.

    Don't miss this OZY piece about why Bryant was a global citizen.

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    The Red Sea Is Spitting Hydrocarbons

    That's not the sea breeze scent you have in mind. A new study by German researchers found that gases seeping into the narrow seawater inlet from nearby Gulf nations' underground reserves are mixing with industrial shipping emissions to create noxious pollutants that permeate the air. The levels of ethane and propane were 40 times higher than expected, making the sea's emissions comparable to those of fossil fuel-exporting countries like the United Arab Emirates or Kuwait.

    What does the future hold? Experts are holding their noses and girding for even rougher waters, since Red Sea and Suez Canal shipping traffic is only expected to grow.

  4. Coronavirus Strikes China's Film Industry

    As the virus infects thousands, China's movie industry is suffering too: Authorities have closed the curtains on nearly all 70,000 screens and canceled the release of several upcoming blockbusters. Over the Lunar New Year holiday weekend, the national box office grossed merely $2 million compared to last year's $360 million. While Chinese firms are feeling the symptoms most, Canada's Imax — which runs around 680 theaters in China — has also been hit.

    Why does it matter? The mysterious epidemic could cut this year's global box office revenue by as much as $2 billion.

    OZY's Special Briefing asks if the outbreak could make China more transparent.

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    Meet Germany's First Female Soccer Boss

    She's in a league of her own. Sandra Schwedler — the only female supervisory board head in German professional soccer — is scoring goal after goal for women's representation: Twenty-four years after attending her first FC St. Pauli game, the 39-year-old now leads the Hamburg team, OZY reports, passing the proverbial ball between fans and the club. She's also piping up about the role of women in German soccer, where men hold more than 95 percent of top positions.

    What's next? Thanks to Schwedler, St. Pauli wants to seat women in half of all director-level positions by 2025.