The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Coronavirus Claims Various New Victims

    Although the number of new infections fell below 2,000 for the first time since January, the head of a Wuhan hospital died today — becoming China's seventh medical worker fatality. With the death toll approaching 1,900, the coronavirus outbreak’s economic impact is spreading too: South Korean President Moon Jae-in spoke of an economic emergency, thanks to falling demand for Korean-made goods, while Apple announced it’s cutting sales projections for the first quarter.

    Why do Apple stats matter? Analysts consider the American company to be the most telling indicator of how the global economy’s doing.

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    Boy Scouts Go Bankrupt Amid Sex Abuse Suits

    Facing hundreds of lawsuits spanning decades of alleged sexual abuse, the 110-year-old organization filed for bankruptcy protection today to save itself from financial ruin. More than a dozen states have temporarily lifted the statute of limitations on reporting sex crimes, so even more lawsuits are likely to follow. Boy Scouts National Chairman Jim Turley said he was “deeply sorry” that measures protecting kids from predators “weren’t always enough.”

    How will bankruptcy help? The move will allow the organization — which has already paid out $150 million since 2017 — to hash out a settlement fund with both plaintiffs and creditors.

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    HSBC to Shed Jobs as Profits Tank

    If only they’d saved for a rainy day. After watching its annual profits plunge 33 percent, the London-based lender said it would slash 35,000 jobs over the next three years — or around 15 percent of its global staff. By the end of 2022, HSBC hopes to have cut annual costs by $4.5 billion and dropped some $100 billion in assets.

    What’s the bank’s game plan? Its strategy includes dialing back its U.S. and European presence and shifting more business to Asia and the Middle East.

    Don't miss OZY's original series, The Next Recession.

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    Can Jeff Bezos Beat Global Warming?

    Describing climate change as “the biggest threat to our planet," the world’s richest man announced yesterday that he’s launching the $10 billion Bezos Earth Fund to help experts and activists fight global warming. But some say the Amazon founder should start with his own house: Through the tech giant’s sprawling delivery network and web services, it has an enormous environmental footprint.

    How could the company improve? It's pledged to introduce 100,000 electric vehicles to its delivery force and go plastic-free in India by this summer — in addition to donating $100 million to reforestation.

  5. Also Important...

    Former U.S. national security adviser John Bolton hinted that his new book offers more revelations about President Donald Trump’s White House, but says he’s fighting “censorship” by the administration. China said it’ll grant tariff exemptions on nearly 700 U.S. goods to encourage more purchases. And experts in New Zealand discovered that hundreds of thousands of mussels had been cooked by extreme heat on the country’s North Island.

    #OZYfact: Pioneering physicist Lise Meitner, who coined the term nuclear fission, was only the second woman to receive a Ph.D. in physics at the University of Vienna. Read more on OZY.

    OZY is hiring! We’re looking for an ambitious journalist to cover business and finance through unique, analytical and globally minded write-ups. Check out our jobs page and read the description here.


  1. Germany Uncovers ‘Shocking’ Terror Plot

    Germany’s Interior Ministry announced yesterday that a dozen suspected members of a far-right terror cell called “The Hard Core” were arrested around the country late last week. They’d allegedly been plotting coordinated, large-scale attacks on mosques, asylum-seekers and politicians in 10 German cities with the aim of sparking "circumstances akin to civil war."

    How did the group form? Members met via WhatsApp just a few months ago and exhibited what extremism researchers call “hive terrorism” — when people with few known links to established terror networks are quickly radicalized.

    Read OZY's profile of the political prankster taking on Germany's far-right.

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    Post-Coal Europe Has a Biomass Problem

    They’re barking up the wrong tree. Nearly one-third of the EU is planning to phase out coal by 2030, but while wood-burning is counted as green energy in many climate policies — and subsidized accordingly — it actually releases more CO2 into the atmosphere than coal. Plus, powering the continent would require burning the equivalent of all the forests in Wales every year, OZY reports, so policymakers might want to start rethinking what's really renewable.

    What’s the solution? Besides relying more on solar and wind energy, experts say it’s important to communicate the fact that burning biomass isn’t carbon neutral.

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    Another Rwandan Dissident Mysteriously Dies

    Popular gospel singer Kizito Mihigo, a genocide survivor who co-wrote the country’s national anthem and spent several years in prison on political charges, reportedly killed himself while in police custody yesterday. Mihigo was arrested last week for attempting to join terror groups and tossed in solitary confinement. Activists are demanding a full investigation — especially since he’s one of many Rwandan dissidents to have died or vanished in recent years.

    How did Mihigo fall afoul of the government? He angered President Paul Kagame’s regime with a 2014 tune blaming him for the genocide, a move many believe earned Mihigo a trumped-up conviction of plotting to kill officials.

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    Third Eminem Video Breaks Billion-View Mark

    That’s not a bad rap. Eminem passed one more musical milestone yesterday as his 2013 hit “Rap God” became one of just 30 videos — and his third — to rack up more than 1 billion views on YouTube. It still lags behind Wiz Khalifa’s 2015 track “See You Again” for the most-viewed rap video with 4.4 billion plays. Overall, “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee leads the pack with a stunning 6.6 billion views.

    What else is special about “Rap God”? With a whopping 1,560 words, the song snagged a Guinness World Record for the most words in a hit single.

    Check out this OZY feature about Mongolian hip-hop.

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    Massive Crash Mars Daytona 500

    For the second consecutive year, racer Denny Hamlin sped to victory in the Florida race yesterday — the first back-to-back win by any driver since 1995. But his triumph was overtaken by a frightening crash involving 42-year-old Ryan Newman, whose car flipped over and skidded down the track during the final lap. The crash shocked spectators, but while Newman’s injuries were reportedly “serious” they weren't life-threatening.

    Does NASCAR have a safety problem? Since racing legend Dale Earnhardt's 2001 death during the same event, the organization has strengthened rules for safety-minded car design, including requiring head restraints.