The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Americans Pulled From Stricken Cruise Ship

    Reportedly flying with 44 infected passengers tented away from fellow travelers, some 400 U.S. citizens wearing sophisticated respirator masks were flown out of Japan this morning on two repurposed cargo planes. "Can't get off here fast enough," said one California woman. The Americans, who will face a 14-day quarantine once they're stateside, had been aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, where 355 of 3,700 passengers have become the largest cluster of COVID-19 cases outside of China.

    How bad is it now? The death toll has reached 1,770 — almost all in China — with 70,500 infected.

    OZY examines the outbreak's effect on Chinese transparency.

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    Former Justice Officials Ask Barr to Quit

    They were compelled. More than 1,100 former officials who served in the Justice Department under Democratic and Republican administrations have signed a statement urging Attorney General William Barr to step down. They say his "doing the President's personal bidding" has damaged the department's "integrity and the rule of law." The unusual statement was sparked by Barr overruling prosecutors' sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone, a longtime friend of President Donald Trump.

    Do they expect him to comply? No, but they urged career officials in the department to "take appropriate action ... and defend nonpartisan, apolitical justice."

    OZY's Donald Dossier dissects Democrats' money worries.

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    Iran Says Talks With United States Possible

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday that his government would be willing to negotiate with the U.S. — if it ends economic sanctions and embraces Iran's nuclear deal. While Rouhani said sanctions "create some problems," he insisted that "maximum pressure has failed." He also said he believes President Trump doesn't want a war with Iran because it would "ruin" his reelection.

    What is Washington doing? A bipartisan effort in Congress could curb Trump's war powers, while Iran's foreign minister blamed poor presidential advisers for the Jan. 2 drone strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

  4. Japan's Economy Was at Risk Before Outbreak

    The economic powerhouse contracted faster in 2019's last quarter than it had in nearly six years, partly due to a sales tax hike. But that flirtation with recession was before the coronavirus outbreak froze large swaths of Asian industrial sectors, leaving one analyst to say there was a "pretty good chance" of further negative growth this quarter. Tourism, exports and domestic purchasing all face downturns as the contagion chills human interactions.

    What's the worst-case scenario? Tokyo is counting on a boost in revenue from this summer's Olympic Games, so if the virus persists until then, "the damage to the economy will be huge," said one expert.

  5. Also Important...

    The United Nations said that 14 children were among the 22 villagers killed in a Friday attack in an area of Cameroon known to host separatist militants. Officials in Mississippi are warning that the Pearl River will continue to overflow, inundating large swaths of homes. And Democrats are worried that Saturday's caucuses in Nevada may be just as dysfunctional as those in Iowa.

    #OZYFact: Coca leaves have been used as a diet aid for over 3,000 years. Read more on OZY.

    Speak up! Do you think the European Union should impose controls on Facebook and other social media platforms? Let us know what you think by replying to this email — and we’ll feature the most interesting answers right here later in the week.


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    Zuckerberg Asks EU to Regulate Facebook

    Who doesn't need boundaries? Widely blamed for his social network spreading hate and misinformation around the world, CEO Mark Zuckerberg is encouraging the European Union to regulate it ahead of his meeting with the bloc today. Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, he said Facebook should be handled like something between a publisher and a telecom provider — and that governments, rather than private companies, should define harmful expression and set the rules for political advertising.

    Why would he do this? Democratic forces must "move quickly," Zuckerberg said, "before more authoritarian models get adopted."

    OZY interprets Europe's dreams of tech sovereignty.

  2. India's Female Scientists Get Results

    In a country where no more than 20 percent of tenured faculty are women, a gender shift was long overdue. Mathematician Neena Gupta won India's top science prize earlier this year, joining only 16 other women out of 550 total winners, OZY reports. She's not alone, as Hyderabad's Manjula Reddy won last year's Infosys Prize for research on bacterial cell wall growth, while rotavirus vaccine developer Gagandeep Kang became the first Indian woman elected Fellow of the Royal Society of London.

    Where's this leading? This may be just the beginning for the country's female postgrad science students, who now outnumber their male counterparts.

  3. Cabbie Saves Rider From $25K 'IRS' Scam

    Does Uber provide this service? Northern California independent taxi driver Raj Singh could have just taken his 92-year-old passenger to the bank and collected his fare. But after hearing her story of being told over the phone that she owed $25,000 in taxes to the Internal Revenue Service, he said he "knew something was wrong." Singh called the scammer's number, where a man claimed to not know the worried woman.

    What did he do? Singh, owner of Roseville Cab, convinced the passenger to talk to police, who dissuaded her from making the payout.

    OZY recommends an app that scams the scammers.

  4. 'No Time to Die' Won't Open in China

    The 25th film in the James Bond franchise was due for an opening splash in Beijing in April. But Daniel Craig and his co-stars won't be visiting China on their international publicity tour due to the coronavirus outbreak. While it's possible that the 70,000 movie theaters closed because of COVID-19 might be open by April, studio insiders say the stars won't be allowed to travel to the stricken nation.

    What's the bigger picture? Without the world's second-largest market, the Cary Joji Fukunaga-directed film is unlikely to meet expectations of being the biggest Bond ever.

    OZY explores the trade war's impacts on filmdom.

  5. Team LeBron Wins Heart-Stopping All-Star Game

    When the clock ran out, the game got better. Playing the Elam ending for the first time, with the fourth quarter reserved for racing toward a point goal with no time limit, Team LeBron (James) clawed its way from behind to hit 157 points, beating Team Giannis (Antetokounmpo) by two. Kawhi Leonard scored 30 points and nabbed the game's MVP award, newly renamed in honor of late Lakers star Kobe Bryant.

    How was No. 24 remembered? Every element of the All-Star weekend featured tributes to Bryant, with James noting, "His legacy is living on every single day with us."