The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Zuma Fires Finance Minister, Sparking Fears of Party Split

    Everything’s going south. The rand plummeted 7 percent this week, declining sharply last night after South African President Jacob Zuma purged nine cabinet ministers critical of his administration. Among them was Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, without whom some analysts expect to see the country’s investment grade status swiftly slashed to “junk.” The president’s actions could also cause a governing crisis, as party allies objected to Gordhan’s ousting. Many are already calling for scandal-plagued Zuma to resign and are considering potential replacements ahead of December’s party conference.

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    International Outcry Over Venezuelan Power Grab

    What happened to checks and balances? Venezuela’s judicial branch, aligned with President Nicolas Maduro, has declared the opposition-led Congress in contempt of court, effectively seizing legislative power from the National Assembly. The opposition’s been swift to criticize what it sees as nascent dictatorship. The U.S. State Department condemned the move, while Peru recalled its ambassador in protest and the Organization of American States described it as a “self-coup” on Maduro’s part. Fourteen OAS members, including the U.S., have called for fresh elections as Maduro’s opposition encourages mass public demonstrations.

  3. Trump’s Latest Twitter Drama, Brexit Negotiations and the PDB Quiz

    Know This: President Donald Trump sparked conflict within his party by tweeting “we must fight them” about the Freedom Caucus, a group of ultraconservative congressional Republicans. The EU has released an outline for Brexit negotiations. And Dutch investigators launched raids around the world as part of a crackdown on tax evasion.

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

    Talk to Us:  We want your feedback on the Presidential Daily Brief — what you think we’re doing right and what we should be doing differently. Send us an email at


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    2017 OZY Genius Awards Winners Announced

    They’re thinking outside the box. The second annual OZY Genius Awards will be handing ten brilliant undergraduates up to $10,000 and the aid of a mentor to help turn inspired potential into reality. Whittling down hundreds of applications from dozens of universities — from state schools to Ivy Leagues — the judges were especially impressed by undergrads who showed that they weren’t “looking for seed money to become rich; they’re looking to solve problems.” OZY will host an event in New York City tonight to formally award the ten students.

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    McDonald’s Puts Unfrozen Meat on the Menu

    There’s some beef over the changes. McDonald’s has announced that by mid-2018, the majority of their 14,000 U.S. restaurants will be serving quarter-pounder burgers with freshly made, cooked-to-order beef patties. While swapping out frozen patties may seem like a no-brainer, some McDonald’s franchisees worry that the new steps could slow service, upset quality control and create new vectors for cross-contamination. Nonetheless, the company hopes the change will mirror the “overwhelmingly positive results” it trumpeted following a trial run in Texas and Oklahoma restaurants.

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    Tadpole Transplant Innovation Holds Promise for Humans

    In hindsight this might be a medical breakthrough. Tufts researchers grafted eyeballs to the tails of blind tadpoles, then used migraine medication to promote nerve growth, resulting in tadpoles that see with their tails. Even more remarkably, the scientists connected the eyes not to the brain, but to the spinal cord. The breakthrough suggests that existing drugs might help transplant patients integrate new organs or tissues into their systems. In its most far-out iteration, the discovery could be used to modify the human body for extreme conditions like space travel.

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    Ronaldo’s Unlikely Statue Sets Internet Ablaze

    Well, this is a bust. Cristiano Ronaldo has one of the most recognizable, bankable faces in the world — except, it seems, to the artist tasked with sculpting it in bronze. The soccer superstar was honored Wednesday outside the newly renamed Cristiano Ronaldo Airport in Portugal. Yet stealing the show was his twisted, goofy bust, which immediately sent the internet into a frenzy, quickly becoming one of the most shared images of the week. Not to be outdone, sculptor Emmanuel Santos responded to the mockery with, “Nor did Jesus please everyone.”

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    NCAA to Pass Judgment on ‘Bathroom Bill’ Next Week

    Was it enough? The NCAA vowed not to hold events in North Carolina until controversial “bathroom bill” HB2 was repealed. That repeal came yesterday, but the replacement hasn’t satisfied LGBT advocates: The new compromise prohibits passing new local anti-discrimination legislation until December 2020. The NCAA says it’ll wait until next week to make a decision — presumably after Monday’s championship game — but its verdict could be complicated by the fact that states like Texas, slated to host next year’s Final Four, are threatening to pass similar bills.