The Presidential Daily Brief


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    UK Mother Found Guilty of FGM

    A woman from Uganda has become the first person to be found guilty of female genital mutilation in the country, following a trial at the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales. The woman alleged her three-year-old daughter ripped her private parts by falling on metal when she reached for a biscuit.

    How bad is the problem in the U.K.? In 2015, it was estimated that more than 100,000 women and girls had endured FGM. The conviction is only the third prosecution brought to a U.K. court.

    Don’t miss OZY’s article on why Tanzania’s female mutilators are quitting cutting.


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    Nuclear Treaty’s Failure Stirs Fears of Arms Race

    Now the Russians are out, too. President Donald Trump’s administration announced Friday the U.S. will pull out of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a pact associated with ending the Cold War, claiming Moscow had been in violation since 2014. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cited a six-month withdrawal countdown, but the Kremlin reacted quickly, announcing its own suspension Saturday.

    What happens now? It signals further deterioration in U.S.-Russia relations, allowing nuclear-capable missiles in Europe and the beginning of a new arms race.

    See what OZY is reporting on the Russian election meddling probe.

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    Corey Booker Announces Presidential Bid

    The New Jersey senator is the latest Democrat to join the quickly growing and diverse field of contenders for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination. In a video message to supporters, the 49-year-old former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, said he wants to “build a country where no one is forgotten.”

    What’s Booker all about? During his tenure in City Hall, he became one of the country’s best-known mayors, partly for attracting investment into Newark. He’s long been considered a presidential contender — despite catching criticism at various times from both sides of the political aisle.

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    Trump Hints at Border Wall Emergency

    In an interview with The New York Times yesterday, President Donald Trump called bipartisan talks on border security “a waste of time” and suggested he’ll take matters into his own hands if negotiations fail to yield his much-vaunted wall. “I’ve set the stage for doing what I’m going to do,” Trump said, referring to his potential declaration of a national emergency.

    But will it come to that? Observers say the president’s unlikely to accept the Democrats’ offer of more personnel and security technology — part of $22 billion in total funding — without a dime for his border wall.

    Check out OZY’s latest Donald Dossier about the “art of caving.”

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    US-China Trade Talks Yield Measured Progress

    Following a meeting yesterday between President Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, Beijing reportedly pledged to buy 5 million tons of American soybeans. Upbeat about the talks, Trump — who will send U.S. negotiators to China this month — also floated the possibility of meeting directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

    How close is a trade deal? Despite the positive tone on both sides, there’s still no written framework for a deal, with one expert saying, “We are in the fifth inning of a nine-inning game.”

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    Frozen US Midwest Awaits Relief

    Will they break the ice? The historic freeze that’s claimed at least 16 lives and sparked sheer awe with its minus 50-degree wind chills appears to be ending, with temperatures set to rise above zero today. Meanwhile, doctors in Chicago reported a serious spike in frostbite cases as the city adopted dubious new nicknames like “Chi-Laska” and “Chiberia.”

    So the trouble’s almost over, right? Not exactly: Chicago and other hard-hit cities are now faced with pressing repairs like fixing burst pipes and ruptured water mains caused by the massive freeze.

    Read this OZY profile of the woman predicting the next climate crisis.

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    EU Launches Iran Trade Mechanism

    Amid the Trump administration’s re-imposition of economic sanctions on Iran, the U.K., France and Germany officially established a new payment system yesterday to help European firms do business with Tehran. The “special purpose vehicle” is a workaround that skirts the U.S. dollar and America’s financial system to avoid falling afoul of sanctions while sticking to the 2015 nuclear accord, which Trump abandoned last year.

    Does that mean Europe’s playing nice with Tehran? While it’s the EU’s most defiant stand yet against Trump, top European officials are still voicing their concerns about Iran’s military meddling in the Middle East.

  8. Also Important…

    Job growth in January exceeded expectations, with nonfarm payrolls surging by 304,000. Tesla has begun selling a lower-priced version of its Model 3 car in China. And January has been recorded as Australia’s hottest month ever.

    #OZYfact: Before it was distributed internationally in the late 1980s, Tetris was legally owned by the Soviet government. Read more on OZY.

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


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    Burger King Is Trolling McDonald’s in Sweden

    The fast food chain’s Swedish branch was quick to take advantage of McDonald’s loss last month of its right to exclusively use the name “Big Mac” in the EU. Burger King’s new menu includes options such as “The Like a Big Mac, But Actually Big,” “The Kind of Like a Big Mac, But Juicier and Tastier” and “The Burger Big Mac Wished It Was.”

    What caused the burger battle? Irish fast food chain Supermac’s claims McDonald’s tried to block its expansion in Europe through its trademark, leading the EU’s Intellectual Property Office to rule the American company hadn’t proven genuine use of the burger’s name.

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    This App Lets You Vent Workplace Woes

    You may want to stop stealing lunches from the work fridge. The founder of Sarahah, the anonymous messaging app that drew ire for enabling teenage cyberbullying, has released Enoff, which targets workplace frustrations. Pronounced “enough,” it lets users send anonymous messages to a designated company representative about anything from corruption to harassment.

    But what about Sarahah? Enoff hopes to make a positive enough splash that Apple and Google are compelled to lift their bans on the controversial app.

    Read OZY ’s story about the digital citizenship classes appearing in schools.

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    Scientists Discover ‘Antarctic King’ Fossil

    The small reptile, Antarctanax shackletoni, roamed the once-temperate mountainous area around 250 million years ago, according to a new report in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. While it has no living relatives, scientists believe the iguana-sized creature — which likely munched on proto-mammals on the forest floor — is an archosaur, a cousin of crocodiles and dinosaurs.

    What makes the “Antarctic King” special? Paleontologists say it shows how new species flourished 2 million years after a mass extinction event triggered by volcanic eruptions wiped away the vast majority of Earth’s creatures.

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    Beyonce Dangles a Carrot for Veganism

    Are you crazy in love with the idea of ditching meat forever in exchange for a lifetime of Beyoncé and Jay-Z concerts? Then you’ll want to check out Queen B’s Instagram feed: She’s challenged fans to adopt a vegan lifestyle — steering them to The Greenprint Project, a website that promotes plant-based meals — for a chance to win lifetime concert tickets.

    Is this a celebrity fad? Bey and Jay aren’t alone: Forbes and The Economist both named 2019 as the year of veganism, while a recent study highlighted the environmental benefits of switching to a plant-based diet.

    Check out this OZY profile of the man who built Qatar’s first vegan café.

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    Haitian-Americans Are Making Their Mark in the NFL

    At least 35 players of Haitian descent, including New England Patriots running back Sony Michel, are currently competing in the league — up from around a dozen in 2010, OZY reports. There may even be a Haiti-NFL pipeline in the making: Former Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril runs an annual football clinic there, trying to lure local talent from the much more popular sport of soccer.

    What’s Haiti’s secret to gridiron glory? Although all current Haitian NFL players were raised in the U.S., some observers point to a deep cultural tradition of resilience from coping with everything from natural disasters to political ones.