The Presidential Daily Brief

Important

  1. US Intel: Russia Is Meddling Again

    Lawmakers were reportedly warned last week by a top intelligence official that Moscow's already meddling in the 2020 election in order to reelect President Donald Trump. But the president seemed none too pleased by the Feb. 13 briefing to the House Intelligence Committee: He's said to have chastised then-Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire for allowing his election-security chief, Shelby Pierson, to deliver intel that Democrats could "weaponize."

    Is this really news? While it's not the first time officials have warned of Kremlin shenanigans in this year's general election, Pierson said it's messing with the Democratic primaries too.

  2. Coronavirus Sparks Fear in South Korea

    Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun says his country — the second-worst hit after mainland China — has "entered an emergency phase" as more than 100 new infections cropped up since Wednesday. Health authorities fear an outbreak near the southeastern city of Daegu, centered around a religious group, could spiral out of control. The mayor of the 2.5 million-strong city is urging residents to stay inside, while officials in Seoul are restricting public gatherings.

    How else are global concerns playing out? In Ukraine, where no cases have been confirmed, angry locals attacked buses carrying evacuees from Wuhan yesterday.

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    Trump Buddy Roger Stone Off to Jail

    "The truth still matters." So said U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson as she sentenced President Trump's longtime friend to three years and four months in prison yesterday for obstructing a congressional probe into Russian election interference. Trump said Stone "was treated very unfairly" — despite the shorter-than-recommended sentence — but that he's not planning to pardon him yet.

    What's the bigger picture? Observers say the ruling could help restore public trust in the independence of the judiciary.

    Don't miss the latest installment of OZY's Donald Dosser.

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    Germany Grieves After Far-Right Massacre

    As thousands gathered around Germany to mourn the deaths of 10 people shot dead by a far-right extremist in the city of Hanau Wednesday, the focus also fell on the danger posed by far-right politics. The 43-year-old gunman left behind racist rants in texts and video footage — sentiments critics suggest have been encouraged by the increasingly prominent Alternative for Germany party.

    Can officials root out extremism? While authorities are focused on stopping organized far-right violence, experts say the rise of previously undetected attackers, like the one in Hanau, seriously complicates their work.

  5. Also Important...

    President Trump slammed this year's Academy Awards at a rally yesterday because South Korean best picture winner Parasite wasn't an American film. Iranians are voting in parliamentary elections today that could serve as a referendum on how the country's leadership is handling tensions with Washington. And organizers of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo are under fire for dropping a scheduled opening ceremony performance by members of the Ainu ethnic minority.

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

    OZY is hiring! We’re looking for an ambitious, Washington-based political reporter to cover the 2020 presidential election — and beyond. Check out our jobs page and read the description here.

Intriguing

  1. Your Favorite New Musicians Will Be Robots

    Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto. Far from science fiction, generative music is already a reality — and it’s enabling devices in ways that are changing how music is both consumed and composed, OZY reports. Thanks to new technology that powers hit-making algorithms, complex data-fed systems can emulate and even fool listeners into thinking they’re hearing the spark of human creativity.

    Are humans in trouble? Experts say such tools will enhance artists' work rather than replacing them altogether, especially considering a generative composed song has never charted ... yet.

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    Twitter Could Start Flagging Lying Leaders

    Politicians' feeds marked up by bright labels flagging "harmfully misleading" content is part of Twitter's new plan to fight misinformation by public figures. A leaked mock-up of its new system shows orange and red blocks — nearly as big as the offending tweets themselves — warning users of potentially false content. Community fact-checkers' responses would be displayed underneath. Twitter says the plan is one of several under consideration, and hasn't yet been approved.

    Could it work? While some media analysts have cautiously praised the measure, they're also wondering whether Twitter will ever ban officials who tweet one lie too many.

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    Long-Lost Ethiopian Crown Returns Home

    It's a crowning achievement. Ending a global mystery of more than two decades, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed received a missing 18th-century headdress from Dutch officials yesterday. During a ceremony in Addis Ababa, Foreign Trade Minister Sigrid Kaag handed over the artifact, which disappeared in 1993 and turned up five years later at the home of an Ethiopian political refugee in the Netherlands.

    Why did he hang onto it? He didn't trust the country's authoritarian regime at the time — but was encouraged by reformist Ahmed's rise to power.

    Check out this OZY story about Iraq's stolen treasures returning home.

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    How Artificial Intelligence Will Cure You

    For the first time ever, a machine-learning algorithm has identified a powerful new antibiotic on its own, MIT researchers say. They trained artificial intelligence to search a library of drug compounds for something that would kill E. coli, and the A.I. found halicin — named after the sinister supercomputer in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey — which was once considered as a possible anti-diabetes drug. Researchers tested it on mice and found it killed dozens of bacterial strains, including some that were resistant to all known drugs.

    Why does it matter? With drug-resistant infections expected to kill 10 million people annually by 2050, exploring new treatments is more important than ever.

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    Roger Federer Off the Court After Surgery

    The 38-year-old Swiss tennis legend said he'll sit out this year's French Open following arthroscopic knee surgery Wednesday. That's in addition to missing four other events in Dubai, California, Bogotá and Miami — though Federer still hopes to secure his 21st Grand Slam title at Wimbledon this summer.

    How difficult will that be? While he might be physically fresher after a full recovery, some speculate that mounting injuries, like the one that led to his loss at last year's U.S. Open, could ultimately tank his career.

    Don't miss OZY's feature on the new wave of tennis greats.