The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. venezuela protest flag shutterstock 747177115

    US Sanctions Will Hit Venezuela’s State-Owned Oil Company

    National security adviser John Bolton and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the U.S. would impose sanctions on PDSVA Monday – including freezing assets in the U.S. and imposing restrictions on Americans from doing business with the company. It’s a move aimed at increasing pressure on President Nicolas Maduro to step down after the U.S. recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim president last week.

    What’s the wider impact? Disruption of imports could hit refiners financially, although costs are not expected to reach consumers at the pump.

    Read OZY’s special briefing on Venezuela on the brink.

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    Justice Department Reveals Charges Against Huawei And Its CFO

    The federal department unsealed indictments against the Chinese telecoms firm Monday, including against several subsidiaries and Meng Wanzhou, its chief financial officer. The company is being accused of stealing trade secrets, obstructing justice and helping banks evade sanctions on Iran. Wanzhou is expected to be extradited from Canada, where she has been detained at U.S. request.

    How will this effect U.S.-China relations? The timing of the charges is at a sensitive diplomatic time with talks taking place between officials in Washington to resolve the trade war – the indictment could further strain relations between the two countries.



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    Trump Doubts a Border Deal Is Coming

    President Donald Trump expressed skepticism yesterday over whether congressional negotiators would be able to strike an immigration deal that he’d approve. While Trump caved to Democratic demands Friday to temporarily reopen the government without funding for his $5.7 billion border wall, both he and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney have suggested Trump could still declare a national emergency to build the wall.

    What are lawmakers up to? A 17-member bipartisan committee has until Feb. 15 to hash out a border security plan — or risk prompting another partial shutdown.

    Don’t miss OZY’s latest Donald Dossier explaining why shutdown politics aren’t over.

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    ISIS Claims Philippines Bombings

    President Rodrigo Duterte is scheduled to visit the southern island of Jolo, where two blasts at a Roman Catholic cathedral killed at least 20 people and left dozens more injured yesterday. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, but police believe the chief suspect may be the brother of a slain commander of local Islamist group Abu Sayyaf.

    What do they want? Some are wondering whether Sunday’s attack was a response to local voters rejecting a recent referendum to include Jolo in an autonomous Muslim zone after the rest of the Mindanao islands approved it.

    Check out OZY’s Special Briefing on the stubborn resilience of global terrorism.

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    The SEC Is Investigating Nissan

    What are they driving at? The Japanese carmaker said Monday that it’s cooperating with the Securities and Exchange Commission following a report that the U.S. regulator is probing the company’s disclosure of executive pay. It’s the latest legal difficulty for Nissan, whose former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, was arrested in November for allegedly underreporting his salary by tens of millions of dollars.

    Does Nissan have reason to worry? It’s unclear whether the SEC will launch a broader probe — but if it does, Japan’s second-largest carmaker could face hefty financial penalties.

  6. Also Important…

    The U.S. Treasury Department is lifting sanctions on three companies connected to controversial Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Authorities in Brazil are still searching for survivors and remains after a dam collapse Friday left at least 58 people dead and hundreds missing. And Trump confidant Roger Stone has said he won’t rule out cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

    #OZYfact: Three-quarters of Russia’s population lives in cities. 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. jewish cemetery shutterstock 576151768

    Report: Anti-Semitic Killings Highest in Decades

    According to Israel’s new Global Anti-Semitism Report, released for Sunday’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day, 13 Jews were murdered in hate attacks in 2018, including 11 in October’s Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. The U.K. also saw a record high in anti-Semitic incidents for the second year in a row, while a survey there found 1 in 20 British adults don’t believe the Holocaust happened. And a Canadian study revealed that 22 percent of people under age 34 hadn’t heard of the tragedy or weren’t sure what it was.

    What should governments do about it? Experts say revitalized education efforts are more important than ever, especially as younger generations are less likely to know any Holocaust survivors.

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    Japanese Businesses Receive Cyanide-Laced Letters

    Nine Japanese companies, including pharmaceutical firms and a newspaper, were targeted with blackmail letters this weekend containing white powder suspected to be cyanide, police say. Sent under the names of executed members of doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo — responsible for a deadly Tokyo subway attack in 1995 — the blackmailer demanded $31,000 in bitcoin, or else they’d distribute fake medicine containing cyanide.

    Why Aum Shinrikyo? While its leader was hanged last summer, the cult still reportedly retains a degree of influence through splinter groups.

    Read this OZY feature on the fake food war between Japan and China.

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    Exploding Head Syndrome Is More Common Than You Think

    What a headache. In one recent study, nearly 30 percent of respondents said they’d experienced the harmless yet terrifying-sounding condition, in which sleepers are jolted awake by a violent imagined sound resembling anything from a gunshot to crashing cymbals. Experts are still trying to pin down what causes Exploding Head Syndrome, OZY reports, though many blame the brain’s failure to properly wind down for sleep.

    What’s next for researchers? They’re hoping to pursue broader studies to more closely investigate links between EHS and poor sleep quality.

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    ‘Black Panther’ Wins Big at SAG Awards

    The trophy’s heading to Wakanda. The Marvel blockbuster shocked cinephiles yesterday by winning the ensemble cast award at the 25th Screen Actors Guild Awards — becoming the first superhero movie to ever take the top prize. Meanwhile, Rami Malek won best actor for his role in Bohemian Rhapsody, Glenn Close won best actress for The Wife, Emily Blunt took the best-supporting-actress honor for A Quiet Place and Mahershala Ali was named best-supporting actor for Green Book.

    Will Black Panther snag an Academy Award? Not so fast: Despite beating out the Queen biopic and Crazy Rich Asians, among others, it’s still thought to be a long shot for the best picture Oscar.

    Don’t miss this OZY profile of the schoolteacher attracting Oscar buzz.

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    Figure Skater Nathan Chen Claims Third Straight US Crown

    The Yale freshman won the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit yesterday, nailing four quadruple jumps and snatching first place by 58 points. Last year, Chen, 19, became the youngest world champion in 17 years — and the first American to hold the honor in a decade. The full-time student has dominated opponents while training alone at Yale’s rink and sending videos to his coach.

    Will he cruise to another World Championship? Chen’s short program at the Pyeongchang Olympics wasn’t great, but he pulled off an unprecedented six quads in his free skate — suggesting he’s primed for the March skate-off.