The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Coronavirus Cases Spike Yet Again

    The death toll is now approaching 1,400 as Chinese health officials counted another 5,090 new cases. The silver lining, according to the World Health Organization? Cases outside China aren't rising much — apart from infections on one quarantined Japanese cruise ship, where 218 are now confirmed ill. Meanwhile, more than 1,700 Chinese medical workers have been revealed to be infected.

    What's the bigger picture? Experts are holding out hope that authorities' new, broader method of diagnosing coronavirus means that the sudden spike isn't as bad as it looks.

    Read OZY's feature about the outbreak busting up China's Olympic dreams.

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    Trump's Tweets Are Really Bothering Barr

    They weren't just tweet little nothings. The White House shrugged off an explosive claim by Attorney General William Barr that President Donald Trump's constant tweeting makes it "impossible" to work. "I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody," he told ABC News yesterday. Barr's comments followed widespread criticism that the Justice Department appeared to ease its proposed sentence for convicted Trump ally Roger Stone in response to tweeted complaints from the president.

    Why did Barr pipe up? Some say staying silent would have meant risking a revolt inside his 115,000-employee agency.

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    US Hits Huawei With New Charges

    Beijing and Washington may be headed toward new tensions after U.S. authorities accused the Chinese telecom giant and two of its subsidiaries of trying to steal trade secrets from six American tech firms. The indictment, filed in a Brooklyn federal court, also claims the company helped U.S.-sanctioned Iran spy on protesters in 2009. Huawei hit back, saying the charges are meant to "irrevocably damage" its reputation and business.

    How old is this legal spat? The new charges build on a case launched last January — but are rooted in an allegedly decadeslong effort by Huawei to pilfer from major industry players like Cisco, T-Mobile and Motorola.

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    Senate Tries to Curb Trump's War Powers

    They're not looking for a fight. In a bipartisan rebuke, the Senate voted 55-45 yesterday to force President Trump to seek congressional approval before attacking Iran. The move followed last month's controversial U.S. airstrike that killed top Iranian military leader Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Still, Trump will likely veto the measure — while the Senate doesn't have the supermajority to override him.

    So why does it matter? Some, such as Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, believe it could make Trump think twice before confronting a foreign power like Tehran during an election year.

    Don't miss OZY's report on what America's college kids are saying about Iran.

  5. Also Important...

    Nissan's shares dropped to their lowest point in more than a decade Friday after the company posted its first quarterly net loss in nearly as many years. The U.S. and the Taliban have negotiated a seven-day partial truce as they feel out prospects for a peace deal. And prominent Indian environmentalist Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, who led a Nobel Prize-winning U.N. climate panel, has died at the age of 79.

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

    Spill it! For months, OZY’s been telling unconventional love stories with our Love Curiously series. Now we want to hear yours: Email to tell us about the most memorable date you ever went on — romantic, dramatic or just plain bizarre — and you could win a free pair of tickets to OZY Fest!


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    NASA: No, Massive Asteroid Won't Hit Us

    You do want to miss this thing. As concerns grew this week that a kilometer-wide asteroid would smash into Earth on Saturday — at a brisk 34,000 miles per hour — NASA put those fears to rest. "There’s no hazard or danger," said one official, who said the agency's been tracking the potentially planet-decimating projectile "for years." The closest that asteroid 2002 PZ39 will come to Earth will be 3.6 million miles, or 15 times the distance between here and the moon.

    Is there room for error? While NASA's Sentry System tracks potentially dangerous asteroids, experts were caught off guard last year when a smaller asteroid flew much closer than expected.

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    In Amazon Vs. Microsoft, Bezos Wins

    A federal judge hit the brakes yesterday on a $10 billion U.S. government contract awarded to Microsoft after an Amazon lawsuit alleged "unmistakable bias" in the process. Microsoft won the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud-computing gig, Amazon claims, because President Trump applied "improper pressure" to steer it away from Jeff Bezos. The Amazon founder's Washington Post hasn't pulled any punches in its coverage of the president.

    What's next? Microsoft remains confident that the Department of Defense was "detailed, thorough, and fair" — though some experts believe the controversial contract should be scrapped altogether.

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    Why Darfur Bleeds Even Without al-Bashir

    Sudan's former dictator, Omar al-Bashir, may finally meet his long-awaited fate at the International Criminal Court. But the Janjaweed, the military force he formed to terrorize civilians in Darfur, is still tearing the region apart, OZY reports. Now called the Rapid Support Forces, fighters under the command of powerful warlord Hemedti are scorching villages, committing sexual violence and killing locals with impunity. The RSF is even poisoning the land itself through its harmful gold-mining operations.

    Can they be stopped? Much depends on whether a joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force will stick around beyond this year.

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    Polanski Furor Claims 'French Oscars' Board

    Et tu, César? Just two weeks before its annual award ceremony, the entire leadership of the César Academy resigned last night amid mounting criticism of its 12 nominations for disgraced director Roman Polanksi. The nods for An Officer and a Spy have fueled criticism that the academy is out of touch for honoring a man convicted of statutory rape against a 13-year-old girl in 1978. The 21-member board said it resigned "to find calm" and "allow complete renewal" of the leadership.

    How angry are industry insiders? Hundreds signed a petition this week calling for massive reforms of the organization.

  5. Houston Astros Apologize — Sort Of

    "What a clown show." That's one of the many disparaging comments that flooded Twitter yesterday after Astros stars and management offered some semblance of an apology for their sign-stealing scheme. In a brief spring training press conference, owner Jim Crane said, "Our opinion is that this didn't impact the game." He further angered fans by declaring, "I don’t think I should be held accountable."

    Why so much spin? Observers say being any more remorseful would mean acknowledging just how tainted the team's 2017 World Series win really is.

    Check out OZY's story about the fall of the fastball.