The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. The US Capitol is seen after sunset, in Washington DC, USA, 13 January 2014.

    Two Senate Bills Fail as Lawmakers go Back to The Drawing Board

    Competing bills aimed at ending the government shutdown have fallen flat, failing to get the votes. It includes President Donald Trump’s $5.7 billion bid for the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, coupled with legal protections for some immigrants and measures to curb U.S. asylum claims.

    Where does that leave things? The parties are currently at an impasse but with Friday looming as the second consecutive paycheck to be missed by around 800,000 federal workers, both parties will seek to forge a compromise as soon as possible.

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


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    Venezuela’s Military Backs Maduro

    Defense minister Vladimir Padrino López declared loyalty to President Nicolás Maduro Thursday, saying the opposition’s effort to replace him with a transitional government amounted to an attempted coup. National Assembly President Juan Guaido declared himself interim president before anti-government protesters yesterday and was immediately recognized as the country’s leader by the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia.

    Is this game over for Guaido? It’s a blow for the former engineer but the military may still flip as experts say it is notable López did not back Maduro immediately and ultimately the military will “stick with the most concrete power structure.”

    Check out OZY’s take on a previous attack on Maduro’s presidency.


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    Michael Cohen Subpoenaed by Senate Intelligence Committee

    President Donald Trump’s former fixer has been called before the select committee mid-February, his lawyer confirmed. The news comes a day after saying he’d delay appearing before Congress citing “ongoing threats against his family.” Trump recently said Cohen should provide information about Cohen’s father-in-law instead, who was convicted of tax fraud in the ’90s, which Democrats say amounts to witness intimidation.

    Is the timing significant? Cohen is now compelled to testify, which lawmakers are keen to see him do before his prison sentence starts in early March. Whether that is in a closed or open session is yet unclear.

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    Trump Postpones His State of the Union Address

    Following a public back-and-forth with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Trump said yesterday that he won’t deliver his speech until the government fully reopens. Pelosi refused Trump the House floor for the annual address — citing shutdown-related security concerns — prompting Trump to seek alternative locations. He ultimately decided no other venue could compete with the “history, tradition and importance of the House Chamber.”

    Will this end the shutdown? Probably not, but while two rival spending bills are unlikely to pass in the Senate today, many are hoping they’ll inspire a bipartisan compromise.

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    Microsoft’s Bing Is Blocked by China’s Great Firewall

    The last major foreign search engine operating in the country was reportedly banned by the government Wednesday. Bing, which only accounted for 2 percent of China’s search traffic, was previously allowed to operate there because it censored its results. Microsoft’s call platform Skype was pulled from Chinese app stores in 2017.

    Is Beijing getting stricter with internet controls? It seems like it: The Cyberspace Administration of China says it closed 733 websites and 9,382 apps in what experts see as a widening web crackdown.

  6. Also Important…

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed “great satisfaction” yesterday with a letter from President Trump ahead of a potential second nuclear summit. A 21-year-old suspect is in custody after a gunman killed five people at a Florida bank. And Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte wants the legal age of criminal responsibility to be lowered to 12 amid a deadly drug war.

    #OZYfact: The Netherlands is the second-largest agricultural exporter in the world after the U.S., which has 221 times more agricultural area. Read more on OZY.

    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.


  1. The silhouette of a Greek woman smoking is seen in Athens one day ahead of WHO World No Tobacco Day. According to European Union research, Greek people are the top smokers in the list of European countries with 42 per cent.

    Are Free Market Think Tanks Propping Up Big Tobacco?

    They found a smoking gun. A Guardian investigation published Wednesday revealed at least 106 of the groups — including prestigious and well-connected ones like the Cato Institute — accepted donations from tobacco companies, argued against smoking-related regulations, or both. Many of the think tanks reportedly opposed plain cigarette packaging, pushed industry-funded research and fought tobacco taxes.

    Are they supporting a new market? As smoking continues to decline in the West, experts think Big Tobacco is focusing resources on Africa and Asia.

    Read this OZY feature about why Libya is a haven for cigarette smuggling.

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    Chinese Scientists Create 5 Clones of Gene-Edited Monkey

    The macaques were duplicated from a parent with DNA edited to induce mental illness, researchers from the Institute of Neuroscience at the Chinese Academy of Sciences announced Wednesday. Using CRISPR/Cas9, scientists removed a gene that affects the animals’ biological clocks and could bring on a host of diseases, including schizophrenia.

    Can the benefits outweigh the ethical concerns? Scientists say the identical creatures would be better subjects for testing drugs to help human disorders from cancer to diabetes to neurodegenerative diseases.

    Don’t miss OZY’s Special Briefing on China’s rogue gene editors.

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    Tax Breaks and Art Invigorate This South African City

    Once considered a cultural desert compared to Cape Town, Port Elizabeth has turned its image around with revitalization projects attracting artists and businesses, OZY reports. Generous tax rebate programs have encouraged innovative entrepreneurs to skip higher-priced cities to settle in the up-and-coming seaside locale. The rating agency Moody’s upgraded the city last year as coworking spaces and artisanal incubators flourish.

    Will others follow Port Elizabeth’s blueprint? With tax breaks as high as 25 percent for nonspeculative property developments and restoration projects, cities elsewhere could find lessons in resuscitating struggling industrial areas.

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    Allegations Pile Up Against ‘X-Men’ Director

    Bryan Singer is facing new accusations of sexual misconduct — from seducing underage boys to rape — in a report published in The Atlantic Wednesday. The piece, initially set to run in Esquire but reportedly axed by Hearst executives, details allegations made throughout the director’s two-decade Hollywood career. Singer most recently directed Golden Globe-winning Bohemian Rhapsody before being fired near the end of filming.

    Will he face any repercussions? Authorities haven’t charged Singer — who was recently tapped to direct another comic book adaption, Red Sonja, for a reported $10 million.

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    UK Soccer Goalie Suspended for ‘Nazi Salute’

    That’s a red card. Crystal Palace’s Wayne Hennessey was spotted in the background of an Instagram post making a possible “sieg heil” gesture, with his right arm raised and his left hand under his nose. The 31-year-old faces a minimum five-match ban after the Football Association charged him with damaging the reputation of the game and breaching rules relating to ethnic origin or religious beliefs.

    What does Hennessey have to say? He maintains any similarity with the Nazi salute was “absolutely coincidental” as he waved to get the photographer’s attention. Hennessey has until Jan. 31 to appeal the charge.