The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. virginia capitol building shutterstock 634718006

    Virginia Officials’ Racism, #MeToo Scandal Widens

    Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax now faces a second sexual assault accusation from a fellow Duke University student who says he raped her in 2000. Fairfax denied the charge, as he had a California professor’s earlier claim that he sexually assaulted her in Boston during the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

    What’s the damage so far? Top Democrats are demanding Fairfax’s ouster, while Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring face resignation pressure over youthful blackface episodes. The state senate’s GOP majority leader is also fending off reports of racist images in a school yearbook he edited.

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    Before New Shutdown Deadline, Talks Stall

    He said there was “no appetite” for another shutdown. Tennessee Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, negotiating for Republicans, seemed convinced that by the time Friday’s midnight deadline arrives, things would fall into place. But today lawmakers were stymied on border security funding to avoid another 35-day ordeal that left federal workers unpaid and prompted some air traffic controllers to stay home.

    What are they up against? We’ve been here before. President Trump reneged on an agreement to keep the government open in December, triggering the shutdown. Denied border wall money, he could do that again.  

  3. red sqare kremlin shutterstock 1046091583

    Did the Kremlin Kill Denis Voronenkov?

    A fixer, former security agent and Russian Duma legislator with allegedly forged credentials, Denis Voronenkov was called out for having more assets than he could have ever acquired on his modest state salary. Exiled in Ukraine, Voronenkov become a vocal Kremlin critic before being gunned down two years ago in Kiev. The murder weapon was a pistol of Soviet design.

    Who killed Voronenkov? The three main suspects are Ukrainian ultranationalists, but for a guy who was on more than one Moscow enemies list, many believe the investigation will eventually finger a powerful Russian.

    Don’t miss OZY’s feature on Russia’s new African launch pad.

  4. farming shutterstock 1179011221

    Family Farms May Not Survive Trade and Price Blows

    Chapter 12 bankruptcy, which allows American farmers owing up to $4.1 million several years of debt relief, is soaring, thanks to low commodity prices and tariff wars with China and Mexico. With farm debt ballooning to $409 billion — the worst since the 1980s — courts are seeing an eight-year peak in bankruptcies.

    How might this end? Banks are likely to deny loans to buy seed ahead of spring’s planting season, forcing farmers to sell off assets or turn to high-interest lenders, meaning that by the time prices recover, many family farms won’t.

  5. Also Important…

    U.S.-backed Kurdish-led forces have begun a “final” offensive against Islamic State in eastern Syria. Thousands of people have been evacuated from a South Island town as firefighters battle what may be the worst forest fire to hit New Zealand since 1955. And demonstrators littered the Guggenheim Museum in New York Saturday with mock prescriptions to pressure the museum to refuse donations from Sackler family members enriched by widespread use of the opioid OxyContin. 

    In the week ahead: The 61st Grammy Awards will be handed out today in Los Angeles. On Monday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will arrive in Beijing for talks to resolve the trade war between America and China. And the British Parliament is scheduled to vote on a revised Brexit plan Thursday, but a delay is possible.

    #OZYfact: Even though India is the most vegetarian nation on Earth, 98.8 percent of its Telangana State residents eat meat. Read more on OZY.


  1. gun shutterstock 391274305

    Why Is It So Easy to Steal From Gun Stores?

    Unlike other businesses selling dangerous products, most gun dealers have few legal requirements to guard against theft. In five years, 2012 to 2017, 32,000 firearms were stolen from dealers. Many weapons end up on the Iron Pipeline, from less regulated Southeastern states to the populous Northeast.

    Will gun shop laws change? Only four states require strict store security and the NRA fights such requirements, arguing they’re a burden on small businesses. Federal legislation was introduced Jan. 31, but previous bills — even ones allowing disclosure of where criminals’ weapons originated — have failed.

  2. pakistan flag shutterstock 515612581

    Pakistan’s Women Come Out of the Shadows

    Resistance from the state, and even from conservative women from rural areas, is not uncommon when it comes to carving out a little gender parity in Pakistan. Even so, women’s’ rights and empowerment efforts are thriving, spurred by the institutionalization of dogmatic Islamic gender restrictions. In the lead-up to July 2018 elections, 3.8 million women registered to vote.

    Do they have a chance? Progress seems possible, but persistent gender-based violence and a growing trend toward ultraconservative politics promise more roadblocks.

    Check out OZY’s feature on how women are driving Pakistan’s ride-sharing industry.

  3. whale shutterstock 1218839440

    Japan’s Whale ‘Research’ Becomes an Avowed Business

    When Japan withdrew from the International Whaling Commission in December, it alarmed conservationists. They’d long objected to Japanese “research” hunts — permitted after the commission’s 1986 moratorium — but now the country is allowed to whale commercially in its home waters.

    Could it be a good thing? The IWC’s authority is weakened without Tokyo’s participation, but, experts say, concentrating whaling in smaller area while keeping “scientific” hunts away from vulnerable Antarctic and other cetacean populations may allow the giant mammals to thrive outside of Japanese waters.

    Read this OZY story linking climate change to killer whales’ Arctic wanderings

  4. fox studios century city entrance shutterstock 1112426024

    Fear and Loathing Sweep Fox as ‘D-Day’ Looms

    Founded in 1935, it produced cinematic classics like The Sound of Music and Star Wars. But by the end of February, Disney’s $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox may conclude, beginning the famous searchlight’s fade to black. It’s the first time a major studio has swallowed another, so with top talent vying for the same positions and as many as 10,000 layoffs predicted, fear has gripped employees.

    Is there any reason for hope? Analysts note that Disney CEO Bob Iger’s smaller acquisitions avoided layoffs, so there’s reason to believe the “bloodshed” can be minimized.

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    Will Ice Climbing Come in From the Cold?

    Mountains not required: Competitive ice climbing can be done on man-made courses if there are no frozen waterfalls nearby. The gravity-defying sport involves “movements you never thought your body could do,” says Canada’s top climber. Fans can’t get enough: From 2015 to 2018, officially sanctioned live streams grew more than fortyfold to 1.6 million. 

    Will ice climbing become an Olympic sport? It’s been showcased in two Winter Games, but was rejected, again, as an official event for Beijing 2022, meaning competitors will have to take solace in the thrill, without the medals.