The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. maduroshutterstock 646602394

    General Defects Amid Venezuelan Protests

    Venezuelan demonstrators turned out en masse Saturday, with a new ally: Francisco Yanez, an air force general who declared his support for self-proclaimed “interim president,” Juan Guaidó. Yanez, on YouTube, called for soliders to follow and claimed 90 percent don’t support President Nicolás Maduro. Government loyalists, rallying behind images of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, also demonstrated while the air force denounced “traitor” Yanez.

    What’s next? While U.S. sanctions isolating Venezuela’s state-run oil company have drivers worried that already scarce fuel supplies will run out, major European nations have said they’ll recognize Guaidó today if new elections aren’t announced. 

  2. virginia gov ralph northam wikimedia commons

    Virginia Gov. Northam Digs In Despite Racist Cosplay

    He says he’s not in the picture. But the medical school yearbook photo of someone wearing a KKK robe standing with a person in blackface is on a page dedicated exclusively to Ralph Northam, who apologized Friday for the photo, then denied ever having seen it Saturday. He also refused calls from fellow Democrats others to resign, and bizarrely admitted to blacking his face to mimic Michael Jackson.

    Can he be removed? The state constitution is ambiguous, but if Northam refuses to quit, he could face impeachment and replacement by Black Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.

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    Patriots Win Super Bowl Against Rams

    New England beat Los Angeles, 13-3, in the lowest-scoring Super Bowl game ever on Sunday night — although you won’t catch Boston fans complaining. Despite throwing an interception on his first pass, 41-year-old quarterback Tom Brady finally broke through the Ram’s defenses to earn his sixth championship ring with coach Bill Belichick. OZY reports the big game was best understood as a generational clash.

    And the president’s thoughts on game day? In an interview aired ahead of the game, President Trump said he wouldn’t let his 12-year-old son play the ”dangerous sport.”

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    Trump Faces Tough Room for State of the Union

    It’s an altered state: Women, many donning suffragette white, will face President Donald Trump at Tuesday’s annual address. Among them, undocumented housekeeper Victorina Morales, just fired from New Jersey’s Trump National Golf Club. Looming above will be his host, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who delayed the speech until Trump unshuttered the government

    What will he say? Excerpts of his speech urge Americans to “heal old wounds,” and unite to “forge new solutions,” but Trump isn’t known for staying on script, and could still ignore Republican warnings and declare emergency powers to fund his border wall.

  5. afghan army soldier on pickup with machine gun us do d crop

    Is the US Surrendering Afghanistan?

    It’s America’s longest war, so Afghan peace talks have a hopeful glow about them. But in the eyes of many, especially Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, there’s a lot not to like. For one, Ghani’s government has been excluded from a process that seems under pressure from the White House to swiftly conclude a deal with the Taliban.

    What are the insurgents offering? The fundamentalist Islamic group that harbored Osama bin Laden as he plotted 9/11 has pledged to keep al-Qaida and Islamic State at bay, but the terms so far offer little that would keep the U.S.-friendly government in power. 

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    This Isolated Town’s Becoming a Global Hub

    There’s not much in Khorgos, Kazakhstan, near the Chinese border. But Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative sees multibillion-dollar opportunities. The central Asian crossroads is key to the initiative’s European links. Some 90 percent of Chinese trade with western Eurasia moves by sea. New rail routes could speed such cargo.

    Is Kazakhstan happy? It’s so far avoided the crippling debts shouldered by other BRI partners, but other tensions exist: There’s a crackdown on Muslims in neighboring Xinjiang province, where China has agreed to let Kazakh-origin Chinese escape to their homeland.

    Read more about the Belt and Road Initiative with OZY

  7. Also Important…

    Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard on Saturday declared her candidacy for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. British Prime Minister Theresa May is heading back to Brussels with the improbable mission of renegotiating part of a Brexit agreement that keeps Northern Ireland’s border open. And Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his Pennsylvania burrow Saturday and did not see his Groundhog Day shadow, forecasting an early spring.

    In the week ahead: On Monday, Facebook will mark its 15th anniversary. Two weeks of celebrations commencing the Chinese Year of the Pig begin Tuesday. And the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a Thursday vote on the confirmation of William Barr as attorney general.

    #OZYfact: Tetris, the iconic falling block-arranging video game, was first legally licensed by the government of the Soviet Union to Nintendo in 1989 for its Game Boy platform. Read more on OZY.


  1. Dementia

    Losing Their Minds, They Opt for Swift Death

    Dutch dementia patients must request legal euthanasia early — like Annie Zwijnenberg, whose voluntary death was documented in a recent film — even proceeding before they are truly incapacitated. By that time, affirming consent becomes legally questionable and can put doctors in legal jeopardy.

    Is the tide changing? Some are concerned that cases involving late-stage patients and a current prosecution — in which a struggling patient’s family held her down for a lethal injection — could preclude dementia sufferers from choosing death over indignity.

    Don’t miss OZY’s feature on why better lawyers equals more dementia on death row.

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    Hitting the Trail in Iraqi Kurdistan

    Semiautonomous Northern Iraq has seen an era of peace, raising hopes that the mountainous region could be the next great adventure destination. A war-weary reporter motored through Kurdistan to find plenty: rafting virgin, if trash-strewn rapids with a local environmental activist, mountaineering among land mines, and mushroom hunting within range of hostile Iranian marksmen.

    Is it safe now? This adventure features man-made dangers that even Kurdish guides may ignore. Meanwhile, Turkish forces are stepping up anti-separatist actions inside Iraq, and even the best ponchos aren’t airstrike-resistant.

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    American ‘Repats’ Are Going — and Staying 

    While “much of humanity would still teleport to America if it could,” Asia is beating the U.S. in attracting the world’s brain trust. That’s how globalization expert Parag Khanna sees it in his new book, The Future Is Asian. In an OZY excerpt, Khanna describes the phenomenon by which he and other immigrant-origin Americans have returned to homelands lately brimming with opportunity.

    Who will benefit from this? Asian nations are reaping the rewards of the talent influx as America’s allure for the world’s best and brightest wanes — not least from recent nationalist policies. 

  4. verrückt waterslide

    Who’s to Blame When Amusement Parks Kill?

    “I could die going down this slide.” That promotional hype from Kansas City water park co-owner Jeff Henry became a macabre prediction after the world’s tallest waterslide decapitated a child two years ago. An in-depth look into the park’s management paints a picture of repeated red flags, lax maintenance and hubris preceding the accident.

    What’s the fallout from the tragedy? Henry and ride designer John Schooley, facing second-degree murder charges, and Tyler Miles, park operations manager, charged with involuntary manslaughter, await trial — as the tragedy renews debate over amusement parks’ federal regulation exemption.

  5. patriots helmet shutterstock 474626236 (1)

    The City Grudgingly Rooting for the Patriots

    St. Louis — which lost the Rams franchise in 2016 to Los Angeles — might be the only city outside of New England rooting for the widely hated Patriots in Sunday’s Super Bowl. After watching the Rams remain mediocre for years, Missourians must witness the very real post-relocation bump. Across sports, from the Baltimore Ravens to the Oklahoma City Thunder, teams with sudden incentive to perform well have left jilted fans feeling cheated.

    Who’s next? Watch the Las Vegas Raiders, on their way out of Oakland, become another team infused with the verve of its new fan base.