The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Paul Manafort Handed 47-Month Sentence

    Convicted last year of tax evasion and bank fraud, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager will spend far less time in prison than the 19 to 24 years prosecutors sought. They argued that Manafort shouldn’t get credit for his limited cooperation with Robert Mueller’s probe, but Judge T.S. Ellis said that recommendation was “out of whack” with the crimes, describing the matter as a regular financial fraud case. Manafort was also ordered to pay $25 million in restitution.

    Are his legal troubles now over? The one-time consultant for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine still faces a potential 10-year sentence next week for conspiracy — though Trump has indicated he might offer a pardon.

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    Venezuela Hit by Blackout Amid Political Turmoil

    Much of the crisis-stricken Latin American country was left in the dark yesterday, sparking confusion and, in some cases, anger among a population already suffering from hyperinflation and shortages of basic goods. Embattled President Nicolás Maduro accused his opponents — including the U.S. — of sabotage, while opposition leader Juan Guaidó described the blackout as “evidence of the usurper’s inefficiency.”

    Are electricity shortages common? Years of underinvestment have wreaked havoc on Venezeula’s hydroelectric infrastructure, its main source of domestic energy.

    Read this OZY Flashback about the roots of Venezuela’s current crisis.

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    ECB Unveils Economic Stimulus Plan

    Can they bank on this solution? Facing a potential global economic slowdown, the European Central Bank unexpectedly announced a set of measures yesterday to strengthen the 19-member eurozone. Officials said they’ll freeze the interest rate this year while also offering banks cheaper loans to prompt more lending to businesses. ECB chief Mario Draghi said economic growth in 2019 will likely be just 1.1 percent, down from a forecast of 1.7 percent.

    Is this cause for alarm? Although the global economy is still expected to grow this year, analysts say the ECB’s move suggests it’s “running out of ammo” to fight a deeper recession, if necessary.

    Don’t miss OZY’s original series, Economies of the Future.

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    US House Votes Against ‘Hateful Expressions of Intolerance’

    Despite a 407-23 congressional vote yesterday to condemn discrimination and bigotry against minorities, Democrats reportedly remain conflicted over how to tackle Rep. lIhan Omar’s recent comments suggesting pro-Israel activists were pushing “for allegiance to a foreign country.” The nearly two-dozen Republicans who voted against the measure cast it as a “sham” attempt by Democrats to avoid singling out one of their own — while failing to explicitly condemn anti-Semitism.

    What’s the bigger issue here for Democrats? As OZY reported recently, the debate over the Jewish state could help decide the party’s 2020 nominee for president.

  5. Also Important…

    At least 25 Central American migrants are dead after their truck overturned yesterday in southern Mexico. Last month Chinese exports fell 20.7 percent from a year earlier, the biggest decline since 2016. And Finland’s center-right government resigned today after its failure to implement social reforms. 

    #OZYfact: Between 2015 and 2018, human-elephant conflicts led to 1,713 human deaths and 373 elephant deaths in India. Read more on OZY.

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


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    Are US State Department Vacancies a Security Risk?

    The Government Accountability Office believes they are, detailing in a new report how hundreds of unfilled positions around the world are hampering foreign policy work and putting diplomats at risk. While budget cuts and bureaucracy issues precede the Trump administration, a hiring freeze has exacerbated the situation. Currently one-fifth of the State Department’s political officer posts are vacant, while 160 of 989 overseas security officer positions remain unfilled.

    How far-reaching is the impact? The vacancies can hinder efforts by embassy staff to address fraud, waste, abuse and even nuclear proliferation.

    Check out this OZY feature about how Trump’s straight talk is changing the world.

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    Airbnb Preps for IPO With HotelTonight Purchase

    Get a room. Ahead of its highly anticipated initial public offering later this year, the home rental site has agreed to buy last-minute booking service HotelTonight, which currently operates in 40 countries. Airbnb, with 5 million listings in 191 countries, now accounts for 15 percent of all bookings, and it’s apparently on a buying streak: In January it acquired Danish workspace booking app Gaest.

    How does this boost Airbnb’s IPO? Acquisitions could help the $31 billion company become a more valuable end-to-end travel platform with a range of accommodations and experiences.

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    Report: It Cost $800K to Cure Unvaccinated Tetanus Patient

    According to a case study of a 2017 incident, released yesterday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, it took two months and $811,929 in medical costs to save a 6-year-old from tetanus. The Oregon boy, who hadn’t been vaccinated against the deadly bacteria, scraped his head while playing on a farm and began experiencing lockjaw and muscle spasms six days later. When he finally recovered, his parents reportedly refused any vaccinations.

    Why do doctors insist that everyone get vaccinated? Unlike viruses, tetanus isn’t spread through person-to-person contact, so there’s no herd immunity.

    Don’t miss OZY’s take on what we get wrong about the future of medicine.

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    Fashion Designers Are Avoiding the Landfill

    They’re not wasting this opportunity. Clothing makers around the world are turning to upcycling and sustainable wear amid environmental concerns, OZY reports. The need is clear: A recent report found that the industry contributes a garbage truck’s worth of textiles in waste each second. By using recycled materials and rejecting fast-fashion designs, manufacturers could also save the global economy $160 billion each year.

    Will the movement go mainstream? The percentage of fashion companies setting sustainability targets has increased from 34 percent in 2017 to 52 percent in 2018 — and even retail giant H&M boasts its own sustainability-focused line.

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    UEFA Opens Investigation Into Manchester City

    Soccer’s European governing body announced its inquiry after the English team was accused of violating Financial Fair Play rules. A bombshell report in Der Spiegel claimed the club’s Emirati owner, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, transferred money to Manchester City under the guise of a sponsorship. According to leaked documents, only around $11 million of an $88 million sponsorship deal came from Etihad Airways, with the rest given by the owner.

    What are the possible consequences? If found guilty, the team faces a ban from Europe’s top tournament, the Champions League — the only trophy it has yet to win.

    Don’t miss OZY’s story about why South Korea’s soccer squad stands so tall.