The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Pelosi Rebuffs Trump, Says No State of the Union at House

    Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded to President Donald Trump’s letter Wednesday saying he can deliver his address once the government has fully reopened. Trump earlier wrote to the California Democrat that it would be “very sad” if the speech was not delivered “on time, on schedule, and very importantly, on location!”

    Can she do that? The House and Senate must pass a concurrent resolution for a joint session of Congress to hear the president.

    Read this opinion on whether polar opposites can map a way out of the shutdown.


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    Michael Cohen Postpones Testimony Before Congress

    The former presidential aide will not testify on Feb. 7 as planned due to “threats” from President Donald Trump, according to a statement released Wednesday by his lawyer. Democrats have recently warned that Trump should not be intimidating witnesses after repeatedly suggesting Cohen’s father-in-law and family should be investigated.

    Is that chapter over? According to his lawyer, Cohen would be willing to appear before the House Oversight Committee in the future but his family’s safety comes first.

    Read this OZY column arguing journalists should be certified amid cyberwar with Russia.

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    Trump Backs Venezuela’s Opposition Leader Amid Protests

    In a surprise move Wednesday, Juan Guaido declared himself the country’s interim president before crowds of demonstrators. President Donald Trump welcomed the development saying he’d use the “full weight” of U.S. economic and diplomatic power to help restore Venezuela’s democracy, as tens of thousands took to the streets to protest Nicolás Maduro’s rule after disputed elections.

    Who else supports Guaido? The Popular Will party politician has seen a shift in loyalties toward him from the working classes, who have traditionally backed Maduro. Meanwhile right-wing governments of Brazil and Columbia are also turning against Maduro.

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    Senate Leaders Release Dueling Spending Bills

    Will it take two? U.S. lawmakers are set to vote on rival bills tomorrow aimed at ending the monthlong partial federal shutdown. While Republicans are pushing a proposal that includes $5.7 billion for President Donald Trump’s border wall, Democrats have countered with a plan to temporarily fund the government without it. Neither bill is expected to pass — meaning Friday will likely mark the second missed paycheck for some 800,000 federal employees.

    So there’s no silver lining? Actually, there is: If the Senate’s long-awaited first attempt to break the deadlock fails, some believe it could provide a fresh impetus for a bipartisan compromise.

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    The US Is Seeking to Extradite Huawei’s CFO

    Yesterday the Justice Department confirmed it’s planning to ask Canada to extradite Meng Wanzhou, the embattled Chinese executive arrested in Vancouver last month for allegedly skirting U.S. sanctions on Iran. Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters yesterday that her country hasn’t asked the U.S. to drop its extradition bid, while Beijing has demanded that Washington scrap its arrest warrant.

    How would extradition play out? It’s complicated: Once the U.S. makes an official request, Canada has 30 days to decide if the British Columbia Supreme Court should begin an extradition hearing — which can take weeks or even months.

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    LA Teachers End Their Strike With a Victory

    “It is a historic agreement.” So said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti yesterday, shortly after educators in America’s second-largest school district approved a tentative deal to end their six-day strike in exchange for a 6 percent pay bump and restrictions on class sizes. The first strike in 30 years by the Los Angeles Unified School District, home to some 640,000 students, forced schools to staff up with substitute teachers and administrators.

    What does their victory mean nationwide? The public attention their campaign received — largely thanks to their student-centered concerns — could serve as a lesson for other striking teachers.

    Check out OZY’s feature about “digital citizenship” in schools.

  7. Also Important…

    South Korea has announced a massive human rights investigation into abuse in sports. A government-appointed commission in Zimbabwe has accused soldiers of “systematic torture” during a crackdown on protests there. And after being released without charges, singer Chris Brown says he’ll sue the woman who accused him of raping her at a Paris hotel.

    #OZYfact: Remittances from abroad constituted 35.9 percent of Tonga’s GDP last year — the highest proportion of any country. Read more on OZY.

    We’re hiring! OZY is looking for a prolific sports reporter and editor 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.


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    A Nazi Conspiracy Theory Is Snuffed Out by DNA

    Scientists have used a preserved blood sample to prove with 99.9 percent certainty that Adolf Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess, was the man who killed himself in a Berlin prison in 1987 — not a doppelgänger, as some conspiracy theorists believed. Hess flew solo to Scotland from Germany in 1941 to negotiate peace, only to be captured, tried at Nuremberg and imprisoned. His British doctor was among those who believed he used a body double to escape.

    Where are his remains now? They were exhumed, cremated and scattered at sea in 2011 to prevent Nazi sympathizers from honoring his grave, likely a smart move given the extreme right’s stubborn persistence in Germany.

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    Oracle Is Accused of Underpaying Women and Minorities

    In a court document filed Tuesday, the U.S. Labor Department alleged that thousands of female and minority employees were collectively shorted some $400 million by the tech giant over four years. It also claims Oracle prefers hiring recent Asian graduates because they depend on employment visas to remain in the U.S., allowing the company to continuously underpay them.

    What’s Oracle’s next move? It’ll have to cough up lost wages and straighten out its allegedly discriminatory practices if the Labor Department has its way — or risk losing government contracts worth more than $100 million per year.

    Read this OZY feature asking whether fintech can advance civil rights.

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    Asia Is Planning Out Its Public Spaces

    They’re spacing out. In the face of rising urbanization, governments and individuals across Asia are working to ensure people have places to hang out in modern cities. Pop-up spaces, container markets and innovative green areas are appearing across the densely populated region, OZY reports, where modern development has generally favored highways and department stores over gardens and temple grounds.

    How else will public spaces prove useful? Greater open areas could serve as rallying points for public protests, as they did during Hong Kong’s 2014 Umbrella Revolution.

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    Scientists Are Disrupting Memory to Fight Cocaine Addiction

    Memories linked to cocaine use can be altered to reduce drug-seeking behavior in rats, according to University of Pittsburgh researchers. They used a light-based technique called optogenetics to control memory-forming neurons in cocaine-addicted rats’ brains. After erasing memories of stimuli associated with drug use, the rodents showed decreased desire for coke.

    What do those results mean for humans? If they can lead to new therapies, that’s good news for the estimated 70 percent of cocaine users who relapse within 90 days.

    Check out OZY’s feature on the small town leading America’s opioid fight.

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    Japanese Stores Prep for the Olympics — By Ditching Porn

    The country’s largest convenience chains, 7-Eleven, Lawson and FamilyMart, have all pledged to stop selling adult publications in a bid to spruce up Japan’s image ahead of this year’s Rugby World Cup and next year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Executives want their stores to be more family friendly and less offensive to the influx of foreign tourists they’re expecting.

    How else is Japan preparing? At the Olympics, Muslim visitors will be able to pray in pop-up “mobile mosques,” while the government is paving roads with heat-resistant materials to thwart the negative effects of high summer temperatures.