The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Confusion in Iowa as Caucus Results Delayed

    If patience is a virtue, the Hawkeye State has been put to the ultimate test: Local Democratic Party leaders claim "quality checks" and inconsistencies are to blame for a delay in releasing the hotly anticipated results of the high-profile electoral contest. But no need for alarm, they say, as this curious hiccup "is not a hack or an intrusion." They're manually verifying results and have promised to release caucus numbers "later today."

    What's next? The Democratic presidential hopefuls are headed to New Hampshire — where OZY reports the stakes just got higher.

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    China Confronts 'Major Test' in Coronavirus

    "There’s no sign that it’s getting better." That's how one health expert described the outbreak as Beijing offered an uncharacteristically honest assessment of how it's handled the crisis. A Politburo committee admitted "shortcomings and deficiencies," calling the potential pandemic "a major test of China’s system and capacity for governance." The death toll now stands at 425, with more than 20,000 confirmed infections.

    How will China strengthen its response? Officials have pledged to crack down on illegal wildlife markets — like the one where the current virus is believed to have originated — and to boost their emergency response system.

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    Dems Rest Their Case, Trump Preps for Victory

    Both sides offered closing arguments yesterday in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. Facing certain defeat, House Democrats doubled down on their claim that he betrayed the country, while his lawyers cast the proceedings as political revenge. Republicans are also reportedly hoping Trump won't gloat about his imminent acquittal in his annual State of the Union address tonight.

    What else could he say? The president is expected to boast about the strong economy, while the White House said he'd channel "can-do optimism in the face of unjustified pessimism."

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    Wonder How Much Money YouTube Makes?

    Ad sales for the video-sharing platform have grown a whopping 86 percent since 2017 and raked in $15 billion in revenue last year. But as parent company Alphabet released the financial particulars of individual business units for the first time, it had bad news too: Its fourth-quarter revenue of $46 billion was about $1 billion short of analysts' expectations, prompting company shares to slip nearly 5 percent. Still, profits reached $15.35 per share, compared to projections of $12.53.

    Why disclose YouTube data now? It could be an attempt to quell investor concerns over Alphabet's year-on-year quarterly revenue growth, which slowed to 17 percent compared to more than 20 percent in previous years.

  5. Also Important...

    The Staples Center has removed a memorial to deceased Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant, divvying up some items among his family members. Former Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi, the country's longest-serving leader, has died at the age of 95. And an unexploded World War II-era bomb was discovered yesterday in central London.

    #OZYfact: University of Kentucky center Nick Richards already stood 6-foot-9 at age 14. Read more on OZY.

    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. Reddit Users Leak 5,200 Coronavirus Papers

    Describing their effort as "illegal" but also "a moral imperative," a group of online Reddit archivists have created a paywall-free directory of studies related to the quickly spreading virus. Assembling the papers from Sci-Hub, “the Pirate Bay of science,” they hope the database will offer experts and health workers valuable insight as the outbreak grinds on.

    Is the generosity going viral? Scientific journals such as Springer Nature, Wiley and Elsevier have recently dropped the paywalls on coronavirus-related studies, while Elsevier will open up around 2,400 research papers.

    Don't miss OZY's Special Briefing on the outbreak.

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    Now Cooking: Nigeria's Rice Revolution

    This is one food fight it needs to win. Nigeria's long been dependent on crude oil, which comprises 70 percent of its total revenue. But the seesaw in global prices, combined with a neglected agribusiness and domestic food production industry, has forced a rethink. Now, OZY reports, a quiet but rapid rice revolution is transforming Africa's largest economy, helping Nigeria meet its food needs while also turning rice into a major export.

    How's the government helping? It's offering small-scale farmers loans and other support, encouraging local rice brands to take off like never before.

  3. A Mideast Proxy War Grips ... Denmark?

    Something's rotten in this state. In a string of developments fit for a spy thriller, Danish authorities arrested three Iranian members of an Arab separatist group yesterday for allegedly snooping on Saudi Arabia's behalf between 2012 and 2018. Meanwhile, an Iranian intelligence officer was also charged in absentia for organizing an attempt to assassinate the leader of the group, called the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz, in 2018.

    What's next? A pretrial hearing will take place today, while intelligence agents in the Nordic nation will likely be on high alert.

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    Minnesota Medical Board Fines Prince's Doctor

    Money does matter 2 night. The Minnesota Board of Medical Practice has fined Dr. Michael Schulenberg, who treated the late pop star around the time of his April 2016 overdose death, for prescribing medication in another person's name. He'll pay $4,648 for violating ethics and record-keeping rules, as well as for misleading investigators about what he knew when prescribing the opioids.

    So is Schulenberg to blame? While he saw Prince the day before the singer died, investigators couldn't determine whether the deadly counterfeit pills came from him.

    Read OZY's piece about Uganda's pop stars threatening its strongman leader.

  5. Houston Astros Hire New General Manager

    Three weeks after Major League Baseball released its investigation into Houston's sign-stealing scandal, the Astros have tapped former Tampa Bay Rays vice president of baseball operations James Click for the top job. The 42-year-old Yale graduate replaces Jeff Luhnow, who was ousted along with manager A.J. Hinch last month. Team owner Jim Crane described Click as "a respected leader."

    What's next? While Click faces a serious challenge in steering the organization out of baseball's biggest recent scandal, it's still unclear whether a front office shake-up is in the works.