The Presidential Daily Brief


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    US Hits Huawei With Criminal Charges

    Beijing has demanded that Washington end its “unreasonable crackdown” on the Chinese tech giant after the U.S. Justice Department unsealed criminal indictments yesterday against Huawei and its CFO, Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested last month in Canada. The company, which denies wrongdoing, is accused of stealing trade secrets and helping banks evade U.S. sanctions on Iran. Meng is expected to be extradited.

    What does that mean for the U.S.-China trade war? The charges will likely make Wednesday’s trade talks in Washington awkward — with experts from both countries suggesting it’ll be difficult to separate business from politics.

    Read OZY’s feature about unmanned ships and the future of maritime trade.

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    White House Targets Venezuela’s Oil Industry

    The U.S. has ramped up pressure on Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro by sanctioning his country’s state-owned oil company. The move against Petroleos de Venezuela freezes the firm’s U.S. assets and restricts American individuals and entities from doing business with it. Meanwhile, national security adviser John Bolton urged Venezuelan military and security forces to “accept the peaceful, democratic and constitutional transfer of power” to opposition leader Juan Guaidó.

    Will this strategy work? While experts believe it’s a “long shot,” they also say supporting Guaidó’s plan for amnesty and free elections is a wise move.

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    UK Parliament to Vote on Tweaks to Brexit Deal

    Lawmakers will voice their approval — or rejection — of amendments to Prime Minister Theresa May’s divorce deal with the European Union later today. Rival Conservative lawmakers have reportedly agreed on a breakthrough plan to extend the Brexit transition period to buy enough time to hash out a free trade deal with the EU. But it’s still unclear which amendments, among them a new negotiation on the Irish border, will be put up for voting.

    But what about Brussels? If lawmakers agree to amendments today, May will need EU approval of any changes before Parliament has the final sign-off on the deal.

    Read this OZY piece asking whether Germany will become Europe’s sole powerhouse.

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    AG: Robert Mueller’s Probe Is Almost Over

    Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker announced yesterday that the special counsel’s nearly two-year investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election is “close to being completed.” But while Whitaker said he’s been “fully briefed” on the probe, Mueller’s office hasn’t commented on when it would deliver its final report on whether President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian officials to secure the presidency.

    Will we ever see Mueller’s report? Some worry that attorney general nominee William Barr, who’s expected to be confirmed next month, may not release the full report after he failed to guarantee as much in written answers to the Senate.

  5. Also Important…

    U.S. progress in peace talks with the Taliban is stirring fears that Afghanistan could descend into another civil war after U.S. troops leave. Pakistan’s Supreme Court has upheld its acquittal of a Christian woman who spent years on death row for blasphemy before being released last year. And President Trump has accepted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s invitation to deliver his State of the Union address to Congress Feb. 5.

    #OZYfact: Top-earning French households will see their disposable income rise 2.3 percent, thanks to President Emmanuel Macron’s tax reforms — compared to a 1.7-percent boost for middle-income taxpayers. Read more on OZY.

    We’re hiring! OZY is looking for a creative, organized and ambitious Social Media Manager. Could this be you? Check out the job description for more details … and find all our open jobs right here.


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    Is Australia Helping China Develop a Rival GPS?

    A tracking station in Perth, Western Australia, could be crucial to China’s development of BeiDou, a Southern Hemisphere satellite navigation system that would cut Beijing’s dependence on America’s Global Positioning System. According to New Zealand professor Anne-Marie Brady, who says she’s faced harassment for her research on China’s Communist Party, the station is a key Pacific outpost for BeiDou. The system’s already being used for civilian purposes.

    Why does it matter? The alternative technology, which requires ground stations, would let the Chinese military guide its missiles if it’s cut off from GPS — and attack an adversary’s access to the U.S. system.

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    Gold Diggers Are Tearing Up Stereotypes in East Africa

    They’re tired of getting shafted. Women in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are entering the lucrative man’s world of mining with hopes of improving their communities as well as their socioeconomic status, OZY reports. Helped by humanitarian initiatives and loan associations, they’re no longer relegated to stone crushers and sex workers for an industry that feeds an estimated 100 million people globally.

    Aren’t stereotypes deeply ingrained? Yes — but while cultural norms stubbornly persist, male perceptions are slowly beginning to change as the economic benefits become more apparent.

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    Study: Staring at Screens Stunts Child Development

    Try face time. Children aged 2 to 5 who spent more than an hour a day in front of televisions and computers scored worse in developmental tests, according to a new study. The University of Calgary researchers say that’s largely because kids practice fewer basic skills, such as talking, walking and playing, while parked in front of a screen. Some 98 percent of American children aged 8 and younger spend at least two hours per day on various devices.

    What should parents do? For now, experts suggest no more than one hour per day of screen time, while future research may identify a more precise “tipping point” when screens become harmful.

    Read this OZY story on the app that lets kids earn their screen time.

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    Michael Jackson’s Family Slams New Documentary

    The late singer’s family described Leaving Neverland as a “public lynching” after it premiered Friday at the Sundance Film Festival. The film features extensive interviews with Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who claimed Jackson sexually abused them as children in the ’90s at his California ranch. Both men had previously testified in Jackson’s defense against other abuse allegations.

    What happens next? Jackson’s nephew has launched a crowdfunding campaign to produce a documentary debunking the film’s claims — a potentially daunting task, given what one critic said were “devastating” accounts by Robson and Safechuck.

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    A ‘No Deal’ Brexit Could Threaten Horse Racing

    If Britain leaves the European Union without a negotiated agreement, it could thrust the racing industry into chaos by restricting the movement of both animals and people, the sport’s leading figures warned yesterday. A 1960 agreement currently allows some 26,000 horses to move throughout Britain, Ireland and France each year — but it’s unclear if that will continue after the U.K. leaves the bloc on March 29.

    Want to bet on it? While many professionals are bracing for impact, others believe there’s enough money to be made for the business to adapt quickly.

    Don’t miss this OZY profile of the jockey who’s on the verge of stardom.