The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Trump Inaugural Committee Hit With Subpoena

    Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have reportedly requested documents related to President Donald Trump’s $107 million inauguration as part of their deepening scrutiny of the event. Investigators are said to be probing for possible crimes including accepting illegal donations from foreign nationals, money laundering and election fraud.

    How much legal trouble is Trump facing? Special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe may be winding down — but Monday’s news reveals that federal investigations are actually expanding to include other parts of the president’s life.

    Don’t miss OZY’s latest Mueller Thread on the power of presidential pardons.

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    UN: North Korea Is Shielding Its Nukes

    Ahead of a planned second summit this month between Washington and Pyongyang, a new United Nations report says North Korea is keeping its nuclear and ballistic missiles safe from potential U.S. attacks. A confidential report obtained by Reuters described “evidence of a consistent trend” to scatter the regime’s assembly, storage and launch locations. Meanwhile, a U.S. envoy will travel to Pyongyang tomorrow to revive denuclearization talks.

    What does this mean for the summit? Although eager to make progress on denuclearization, President Trump will likely be pressured to secure more concrete commitments from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who’s made only cursory pledges to disarm.

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    Pope Celebrates First Papal Mass on Arabian Peninsula

    Concluding his historic visit to the Middle East, Pope Francis was greeted Tuesday by chants of “Viva il Papa” and “We love you” from the 135,000 Catholics who attended the Abu Dhabi service. At an interfaith meeting yesterday, Francis also urged fellow religious leaders to reject violence and war — explicitly naming the conflicts in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya.

    Why was his visit so important? Some observers say it reflects a newfound desire by a new generation of spiritual counterparts in the Middle East to embrace religious tolerance in a region long plagued by extremism.

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    Paris Apartment Fire Kills 10

    Some 30 people were also injured early Tuesday in an “apocalyptic” blaze at an apartment building in the French capital’s 16th arrondissement. Six firefighters were among the injured as more than 250 emergency workers responded to the incident. While the fire is now under control, authorities say the death toll could still rise.

    What caused the fire? Police are treating the blaze as arson and have detained a woman who reportedly has a history of mental health issues.

    Read OZY’s take on how PG&E went bankrupt after the deadly Camp Fire.

  5. Also Important…

    President Trump is expected to call for unity and optimism in his State of the Union address this evening. Apple has agreed to pay French back taxes estimated to exceed $570 million. And a CNN investigation has found that Saudi Arabia and its allies transferred American-made weapons to various Islamist militants fighting in Yemen’s civil war.

    #OZYfact: Nearly 99 percent of the population in the southern Indian state of Telangana eats meat — compared to 95 percent in the U.S. and 88.8 percent in Australia. Read more on OZY.

    We’re hiring! OZY is seeking a creative and highly motivated Senior Director of Events. Could this be you? Check out the job description for more details … and find all our open jobs right here.


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    Scientists Have Updated True North

    Yesterday experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration updated the World Magnetic Model a year early, thanks to unexpected changes in the flow of molten nickel and iron in Earth’s core. These days, magnetic north moves toward Siberia at around 34 miles per year — nearly four times its speed in 2000. That’s in contrast to geographic north, which remains constant.

    Who does this affect? Government and private services, from the military to smartphone apps, rely on the model for navigation and have been awaiting the update, which was delayed by the U.S. government shutdown.

    Read OZY’s feature on how the Arctic ‘capital’ is finding its new true north.

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    Slack Will Go Public in Major IPO

    The dominant workplace communication app filed draft documents with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday. Valued at $7.1 billion and boasting 8 million daily active users, the Silicon Valley giant is expected to pursue a direct listing — like Spotify did last year — rather than a traditional IPO. That would let insiders sell shares directly instead of waiting for Slack to secure investment and set a price.

    Is 2019 the year of the IPO? It certainly looks like it: Tech powerhouses Uber and Airbnb are both reportedly pondering going public, while Lyft filed its paperwork in December.

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    Will Robotaxis Save the Auto Industry?

    Shared driverless vehicles are being hailed as a potential savior for carmakers facing a projected U.S. recession and an imminent drop in demand as baby boomers retire. Experts expect autonomous vehicles to become mainstream within a decade, OZY reports, with robotaxis accounting for 12 percent of new car sales by 2030. Meanwhile, the “passenger economy” may be worth $7 trillion by 2050.

    Who else benefits? If Alphabet subsidiary Waymo becomes the industry’s go-to supplier, that could hand Google’s parent company 60 percent of the revenue pool in 10 years.

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    Liam Neeson Admits Seeking Racist Revenge

    The 66-year-old actor sparked outrage by confessing during an interview with The Independent that years ago, after a loved one said she was raped by a Black man, Neeson felt compelled to take violent revenge on a random Black person. The Taken star, who said his outlook on violence was shaped by growing up during Northern Ireland’s troubles, described understanding the “primal need” for retaliation, but how he came to his senses and learned a “lesson” from the “horrible” incident.

    What’s the fallout? Reaction on social media ranged from disappointment to disgust, while a Black editor at The Independent pointed to how deeply racism — conscious or not — permeates society.

    Check out OZY’s Flashback on the Black actor who changed Hollywood.

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    Super Bowl Draws Lowest TV Audience in Years

    According to Nielsen data released yesterday, ratings for Sunday’s NFL championship game were the lowest since 2007, averaging around 98.2 million viewers on CBS. In New Orleans — where the hometown Saints were eliminated from contention after a clearly botched call — only 26.1 percent tuned in, preferring instead to let loose at various anti-Super Bowl parties.

    Are people getting sick of football? Not yet: The NFL’s ratings were actually up last season after two years of steep decline amid political protests and revelations of widespread head trauma.