The Presidential Daily Brief

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    Saudi Teenager Ends Bangkok Airport Standoff

    Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, 18, who barricaded herself in an airport hotel room Monday, has emerged from her room after Thai authorities promised not to repeat today’s earlier effort to deport her to Saudi Arabia. Described as an activist and feminist, Alqunun fled from vacationing relatives and tried to reach Australia. She says her family, which has remained silent about her claims, will kill her for renouncing Islam, as well as “for the most trivial things.” She is now in the care of the U.N. human rights agency, which Thai officials said would assess her status.

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    Trump Offers ‘Steel Barrier’ as Border Wall

    President Donald Trump dangled an apparent concession as the White House formally asked Congress for $5.7 billion for his controversial project. “They don’t like concrete, so we’ll give them steel,” he said. But the compromise is unlikely to sway Democrats, who said they made no progress in talks yesterday with Vice President Mike Pence. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen even proposed blocking any legislation unrelated to the government shutdown — now in its 17th day. Meanwhile, Trump threatened to declare a national emergency if lawmakers won’t fund his wall.

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    Gabon Soldiers Bid to Oust Ailing Leader Thwarted

    The West African government has regained control of state broadcasting offices from which purported members of Gabon’s Republican Guard announced earlier today that they’ve seized control to “restore democracy.” Rather than convincing the public to “rise up as one” against President Ali Bongo — who’s been out of the country since he reportedly suffered a stroke in October — they lost control of the main street in the capital, Libreville, and five coup organizers were arrested by the regime, a government spokesman told a French broadcaster.

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    Stocks Rise Amid US-China Trade Talks

    Markets in Asia were up today as Chinese and American officials kicked off another round of trade negotiations in Beijing aimed at ending the trade war. A foreign ministry spokesman indicated China was open to negotiating a solution on equal footing. “Serious working-level discussions,” tweeted a U.S. expert in response to an image from Monday’s talks. Also encouraging were last Friday’s comments by Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell, who claimed the American economy is “on track to sustain good momentum,” plus the addition of 312,000 new U.S. jobs last month.

  5. Syria Withdrawal, Jellyfish Stings and Esports

    Know This: John Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, has promised U.S. allies that Washington’s chief objectives in Syria won’t be neglected. Tesla has broken ground on a new Model 3 factory in Shanghai. And more than 5,000 beachgoers in Australia were stung by jellyfish over the weekend.

    #OZYfact: Despite Hong Kong’s multimillion-dollar effort to promote esports, 80 percent of youth there have no interest in pursuing it as a career. Read more.

    We’re hiring: OZY is looking for a dynamic and organized Media Strategist to join our growing team! Could this be you? Check out the job description for more details … and find all our open jobs right here.

intriguing

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    Saudi Courts to Notify Wives of Divorce Via Texts

    In a new rule that took effect yesterday, Saudi courts are now obliged to inform women — whose consent in the process isn’t required — by text messages that they’ve been divorced by their husbands. According to the country’s justice minister, it’s “a simple solution” aimed at making the proceedings more transparent. Though still repressed by most global standards, Saudi women have benefited in recent years from broader social and economic reforms that have allowed them the right to drive as well as vote and run for local office.

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    Apple Aims to Make a Splash at Consumer Electronics Show

    Though not an official participant, Apple normally looms unseen over the massive tech trade show in Las Vegas. But this year, it’s coming out swinging — while also making peace with a major rival. With competitors who are dogged by privacy concerns set to flaunt their latest innovations Tuesday, Apple emblazoned a big black outline of its iconic smartphone on a building with the words, “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone.” Meanwhile, the company announced a partnership to put iTunes on rival Samsung’s smart TVs.

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    Scientists Are Mixing Biology and Space Travel

    It’s a long way — to the next solar system. That’s why scientists are increasingly turning to biomimetic and evolutionary-inspired designs as a means to survive a future interstellar journey. From a spacecraft that “evolves” by feeding off an asteroid to a speculative “earthship” that includes an organically developed city ready for orbit, bio-inspired models are reaching for the stars. Although such plans won’t be built anytime soon, the evolving prototypes of long-distance spaceships will be needed when space travelers are ready to venture beyond the sun’s reach.

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    Music-Themed Movies Shine at Golden Globes

    Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg co-hosted the red carpet event yesterday, opening with a dig at the Oscars — which still hasn’t found a replacement host after Kevin Hart’s departure over offensive tweets. Rami Malek won best actor for his role as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, which also bested A Star Is Born for best drama, while Glenn Close secured best dramatic actress for her role in The Wife. Meanwhile, Green Book took the trophies for top musical or comedy, screenplay and supporting actor for Mahershala Ali.

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    Field Goal Blunder Gives Eagles Win, Seals NFL Playoff Berths

    “I feel terrible.” So said Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey, who ended his season being booed off his home turf yesterday. His 43-yard field goal attempt — with 10 seconds remaining — clanked off the left goalpost, then the crossbar, sealing Philadelphia’s 16-15 wildcard win. After the Soldier Field drama, the divisional matchups are now set: On Saturday, the Colts visit the Chiefs while the Rams host the Cowboys, and on Sunday, the Chargers face the Patriots as the defending champion Eagles take on the Saints.