The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Trump Announces Deal to Reopen Government

    President Donald Trump and Congressional leaders have agreed on temporary legislation, reopening government departments for three weeks, according to officials Friday. It follows a 35-day shutdown and defeat of two rival bills yesterday, but amid major airport delays around the country, leaders scrambled to reach an agreement today, stalling discussions on Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion for a U.S.-Mexico wall

    Who backed down? Trump relented on what was once a non-negotiable, which some have viewed as a comedown – polls also showed voters blamed the Republican party for the shutdown. But Democrats have agreed to continue talks on border funding.

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    Trump Associate Roger Stone Is Arrested

    FBI agents detained the self-proclaimed “dirty trickster” — and longtime confidant of President Donald Trump — in an early morning raid as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Mueller’s team has charged the notorious political fixer with seven counts, including obstruction and witness tampering.

    Why does it matter? The first special counsel indictment in months suggests that Mueller and his investigators have dug deeper into Trump’s inner circle.

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    Venezuela’s Crisis Is Dividing the World

    Following President Trump’s recognition of opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate president — a move backed by U.S. allies and other Latin American nations — Russia, China and Turkey have all criticized Washington for messing with another country’s domestic affairs. “It’s just pouring gas on fire,” said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

    What’s Nicolás Maduro’s next move? The embattled president is effectively thrusting Guaidó back on the defensive after winning public support from Venezuela’s military chief and key ally Russia.

    Don’t miss OZY’s Special Briefing on the crisis in Venezuela.

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    Queen Elizabeth II Comments on Brexit — Maybe

    In a speech at the Sandringham Women’s Institute yesterday, the British monarch called for “respecting different points of view” and urged her compatriots to “seek out the common ground.” While she’s supposed to stay politically neutral, most analysts are interpreting the queen’s comments as a reference to the thorny debate over the U.K.’s tumultuous withdrawal from the European Union.

    When will lawmakers vote on a Brexit deal? They’ll consider a new version of Prime Minister Theresa May’s unpopular plan next week — but if they fail to approve it, the U.K’s looking at a messy no-deal divorce March 29.

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    US Airlines Are Predicting Air Traffic Trouble

    These skies aren’t so friendly. American, Southwest and JetBlue announced Thursday that although they expected increased quarterly revenues, passengers would soon feel the impact of furloughed air traffic controllers and security screeners. Longer wait times and canceled flights are likely, executives warned. Meanwhile, 7.5 percent of U.S. airport security officers — double the amount last year — missed work Wednesday.

    Are travelers in danger? The president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association said he’s clocked an increase in anecdotal reports of minor errors by controllers, adding that the shutdown is “inserting risk” into the system.

    Read this OZY feature to learn why airlines are rushing to Azerbaijan.

  6. Also Important…

    The U.S. military sent two warships through the Taiwan Strait yesterday in an apparent sign of support for the self-ruled island. A key economic indicator has dropped its rating of Germany’s economy amid reports of lowered growth forecasts. And the Trump administration will reportedly force some asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico while their applications are processed.

    #OZYfact: The U.S. shellfish industry is worth some $340 million. Read more on OZY.

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


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    India Launches ‘World’s Lightest’ Satellite

    They’re pressed for space. Built by students from private space-education firm Space Kidz India, the 2.8-pound Kalamsat-V2 entered orbit Thursday. Launching a privately built probe is a first for the Indian Space Research Organization, whose chief claimed Kalamsat — reportedly weighing less than a wooden chair — is the lightest satellite ever put into orbit. Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his “heartiest congratulations” to the team.

    Why does it matter? Kalamsat’s mission also reuses the rocket’s fourth stage, which is typically discarded, converting it into an innovative orbital platform for low-gravity experiments.

    Don’t miss OZY’s feature on the new space race in Asia and the Middle East.

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    Did Google Try to Limit Protections for Protesting Workers?

    Weeks after CEO Sundar Pichai voiced his support for November’s employee walkout over the company’s handling of sexual misconduct, Google’s lawyers asked the National Labor Relations Board in an unrelated case to rescind federal protections for employees who use work email to organize. The request was uncovered by a Freedom of Information Act request. Google, which has long attempted to foster a feedback culture, has denied “lobbying” for any rule change.

    What would happen if Google got its way? One activist employee believes it could have “a huge chilling effect” on labor organization writ large.

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    Artificial Intelligence Could Save Us From Depression

    Amid historically high rates of suicide and loneliness in the U.S., new apps using artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing are aiming to improve users’ mental health, OZY reports. From offering real-time communication with professionals to analyzing smartphone activity, this new health-focused technology can tailor care to individuals like never before.

    Will these apps really work? Experts say keeping up a high level of engagement between therapists and patients, particularly through a simple and user-friendly interface, is key to their success.

  4. Chris Brown

    Chris Brown Is Suing His Rape Accuser

    Following what he claims was a “slanderous accusation,” the singer filed a lawsuit in French court yesterday against a defendant identified only by her initials. The 24-year-old had alleged that Brown, his bodyguard and another man raped her in a Paris hotel earlier this month. Police arrested the performer Tuesday but released him without charges the next day. 

    Are police still investigating the incident? Yes, but Brown — who’s sticking around Paris to film a new music video — is reportedly free to leave the country.

    Check out OZY’s original series on the #MeToo movement going global.

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    Japanese Company Sorry for ‘Whitewashing’ Naomi Osaka

    Nissin Foods has apologized and assured customers it values diversity after pulling its online campaign that sparked widespread criticism by depicting an extremely pale animated version of the biracial tennis star. “I’m tan. It’s pretty obvious,” said Osaka, who was born in Japan to a Haitian father and Japanese mother, adding that she didn’t think Nissin had intended to whitewash her.

    Shouldn’t they know what she looks like? The 21-year-old shot to international fame by beating Serena Williams in September’s U.S. Open, and is currently heading into the final of the Australian Open.

    Don’t miss OZY’s profile of the rising tennis star.