The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Coronavirus Claims First Fatality Outside China

    The deceased patient was a Chinese man who traveled from the disease's Wuhan Province epicenter to the Philippines and developed severe pneumonia. He's among more than 300 killed by coronavirus, which has infected 14,000 and is spreading fast, surpassing the 2003 SARS outbreak, although the new respiratory contagion isn't as deadly. It has spread to at least 25 nations, which are increasingly imposing two-week quarantines on arrival from China and even cancelling flights from there.

    What's China doing? In the worst-hit areas, it's confined residents to their homes and shut schools and businesses, raising fears of an economic toll.

  2. Police Kill London Knife Terror Suspect

    London police fatally shot a man they believe stabbed two people in a terror attack in the South London area of Streatham this afternoon. An airport security officer who lives nearby said he saw "what looked like a device" on a body at the scene, while another witness reported seeing a machete. The condition of the two injured victims is unclear, while the Metropolitan Police said the "circumstances are being assessed."

    How are officials reacting? London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted that he was monitoring the situation, and that "Terrorists seek to divide us," but "we will never let them succeed."

  3. Kenin, Djokovic Win Australian Titles 

    The Austalian Open ended this weekend with one surprising newcomer and an old hand adding his collection. On Saturday, American Sofia Kenin, 21, beat Spaniard Garbiñe Muguruza, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 for the women’s title and her first Grand Slam trophy. And today Novak Djokovic, 32, survived four-hour challenge from Australian Dominic Thiem, 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, to win his 17th piece of Grand Slam hardware.

    Where did Kenin come from? She's the daughter of Soviet emigres who settled in Florida, where their toddler daughter "always liked to play with balls and a racket" — to the point where she's expected to outrank Serena Williams.

    OZY introduces the next crop of champs.

  4. Done: Britain Has Left the EU

    At the stroke of 11 Friday night, the United Kingdom ended 47 years as a European Union member. The moment marked the end of a battle, starting with a close 2016 referendum that polarized the nation, signs of which were evident in Friday's celebrations and candlelight vigils. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the divorce's most prominent advocate, vowed to "bring this country together."

    Is it really done? Yes, but Britain's trade and other relationships with the bloc continue until the end of the year, providing a tight deadline to negotiate new arrangements.

  5. Senate Blocks Impeachment Witnesses

    With only two defections, Senate Republicans voted 51-49 against allowing witnesses or new documents in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. One key GOP member, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, said he was convinced of Trump's wrongdoing, but it didn't warrant impeachment. The Democratic leader, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, said that without the evidence, it was "not a real trial."

    What's next? By Wednesday, senators are expected to vote along party lines to acquit Trump, but that means he'll still be on trial during his Tuesday State of the Union address.

    OZY examines what may really matter in November.

  6. bernie sanders square no background shutterstock 399808348

    Iowa Caucuses to Begin 2020 Race

    The 2020 presidential election truly kicks off Monday, when Iowa Democrats show up for their famous caucuses. For those anxious for actual results, however, it may be a letdown, as there are three sets of results: The first vote, the realignment vote and the delegate estimate. So multiple candidates could declare themselves a winner, and the race could look just as muddled as it is today.

    Who's favored? Sen. Bernie Sanders, hoping for a big turnout, is projected to win a slim victory, according to OZY's "The Forecast," which also has the senator comfortably winning the Feb. 11 New Hampshire primary.

  7. New Peace Plan Is Winning Palestinian Scorn

    When U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled his Middle East peace plan last week, it was welcomed by members of Benjamin Netanyahu’s shaky hard-line government. They quickly moved toward implementing parts of it, like annexing West Bank settlements to which the plan would grant Israeli sovereignty. But Palestinians have utterly rejected the plan, which offers them a “state” with a long-sought East Jerusalem capital, but one pockmarked with Israeli settlements.

    Does it have a chance? Gulf Arab states, which historically have backed Palestinian aims, are giving tacit approval — seen as a sign of cooperation with a Trump administration that’s holding the line on Iran.

    OZY examines how startups boost the West Bank’s economy.

  8. Also Important...

    Twenty people were killed in a stampede of Pentecostal worshipers in Tanzania rushing to be blessed Saturday. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has promised to supply Belarus with with oil after a cutoff of Russian supplies. And Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has been named NFL Most Valuable Player, becoming only the second MVP to receive a unanimous vote.

    In the week ahead: New York Fashion Week begins Thursday. On Friday, Democratic presidential candidates will debate in New Hampshire. And that day the European Space Agency hopes to see its Solar Orbiter probe launched from Florida.

    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. How Big Oil Punishes Its Enemies

    Steven Donziger was David to Chevron’s Goliath in Ecuador, convincing a court there that the petrochemical giant owed billions of dollars for causing an “Amazon Chernobyl” in an area that indigenous people called home. Since then, the $228 billion multinational has removed its assets from the country, preventing any payouts, and gone after Donziger personally: He now wears an ankle bracelet, stands accused of “judicial fraud,” has been disbarred and his personal assets have been frozen.

    What’s the bigger picture? The firm is the second-largest private greenhouse gas emitter, showing what climate activists may face.

    OZY looks into the future of oil.

  2. Big Tech Steps Up to Fight Pathogen

    It’s spreading, both biologically and digitally. This week the World Health Organization declared China’s coronavirus a global health emergency. The crisis also bears a digital component: viral misinformation. That can confuse and confound health authorities’ efforts, so Google, for one, has launched SOS Alert w/@WHO, a banner topping coronavirus results pages that directs users to facts about the outbreak, rather than misinformation, such as how the virus is a Chinese bioweapon being manufactured in a Canadian lab.

    Can this help? It’s been glitchy, but with Twitter and Facebook joining the fight, it may be possible to keep fact and infection straight.

  3. They Want to Fling Rockets Into Space

    SpinLaunch wants to do what its name suggests. A huge centrifuge will spin rockets and satellites at immense speeds, then release them into the air. It’s not a new or easy idea, but SpinLaunch hopes it can come together this year after a series of trials. The trend toward constellations of mini-satellites might offer the boost the company needs. 

    Can it work? Patents say so, but experts warn that the G-forces in the centrifuge would damage the spacecraft, so it’ll take verifiable results to convince them it isn’t just spin. 

    OZY asks what happens to humans in space.

  4. A Prisoner Got to See the Real Tehran

    The July day that British journalist Nicolas Pelham was due to return home from Tehran, he was detained by the Revolutionary Guards. After a short period of strict detention, Pelham was allowed to roam the city without the minders usually assigned to foreign journalists — despite his continuing status as a detainee facing regular questioning. He witnessed a vibrant, if sanctions-stressed, city, where he saw plays such as The Sound of Music and even met and worshipped with fellow Jews.

    Was it enjoyable? At times, but upon Pelham’s September release, he could not breathe freely until his flight left Iranian airspace.

  5. Will KC’s Sackmaster Make Super Bowl History?

    Favored in Sunday’s Super Bowl by only 1.5 points, the championship-starved Kansas City Chiefs’ fate against the San Francisco 49ers could pivot on a variety of factors. That means it could be Frank Clark’s moment of glory. OZY notes that when the 26-year-old defensive end sacks opponents’ quarterback at least once, his Chiefs are 8-1. In fact, even his Nov. 18 near-sack of San Diego’s QB, prompting an interception, seemed to launch a KC winning streak.

    Will he stand out? While Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes should hog the spotlight, a bruising Niners defense may give Clark extra time to shine.