The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Coronavirus Strikes Iran, Italy

    Outbreaks in Europe, the Middle East and Asia are fueling global fears that the virus is taking root far beyond China. An Iranian lawmaker said 50 have died in the city of Qom, though the Health Ministry disputes that claim. Meanwhile, Italy's now home to 150 cases — forcing officials to lock down 10 towns and cancel Venice's famous carnival — while South Korea's infections have jumped to 833. Back in China, authorities eased some emergency measures as the number of new cases continues to fall.

    How are countries responding? Many have imposed travel restrictions for visitors from China or Asia, though the outbreak could pose entirely new policy challenges for a politically chaotic country like Italy.

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    Trump Makes a Splash in India

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi rolled out the red carpet Monday for President Donald Trump's first state visit to India, a 36-hour tour aimed at shoring up ties between the two major countries. Addressing more than 100,000 people at the world's largest cricket stadium — his biggest rally crowd ever — Trump called India's story "a tale of astounding progress."

    How tight are the two countries? Despite Trump and Modi lavishing praise on one another, they're facing an uphill battle in negotiating a trade deal that's agreeable for both nationalist-minded sides.

    Read OZY's feature about Modi breaking India's diplomatic tradition.

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    Bernie Sanders Stirs the Democratic Pot

    Is he berning bridges? Following his commanding victory in Nevada's caucuses Saturday, the Vermont senator is on a roll. That's forcing the Democratic Party to face the fact that voters are hungrier than expected for radical change — and also that its chances to defeat President Trump in November could dwindle if the firebrand becomes a shoo-in for the nomination. South Carolina's primary on Saturday, followed by Super Tuesday next week, will be even more revealing.

    What's Sanders' next challenge? As OZY reports, it's crucial that he courts African American voters, who were the biggest factor in Hillary Clinton beating him to the nomination in 2016.

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    Malaysia PM Stuns With Surprise Resignation

    Amid political turmoil over the role of his anointed successor, 94-year-old Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad stepped down Monday, throwing the Southeast Asian country into further uncertainty. The world's oldest prime minister had agreed in 2018 to transfer power to Anwar Ibrahim, though reports suggest he may have tried to renege on that promise this weekend. Anwar blamed "traitors" in both parties for plotting a political revolt.

    What's next? Malaysia could face a new election if lawmakers can't cobble together a parliamentary majority of 112 members.

  5. Also Important...

    Seven people were wounded yesterday during a shooting at a Houston flea market. Disgraced actor Jussie Smollett is expected to appear in court today to face six new charges of felony disorderly conduct. And Israeli airstrikes in Gaza and Syria have killed two militants.

    #OZYFact: There’s about a 1-in-3 chance that no Democratic presidential contender will have the 1,991 delegates they need for a majority before July’s Democratic National Convention. 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. car crash vehicle shattered windshield shutterstock 1105336061

    Daredevil Dies as Homemade Rocket Crashes

    Flat-Earther "Mad" Mike Hughes was killed Saturday after a mishap during his third homemade rocket launch in a California desert. The 64-year-old stuntman, who holds the world record for the longest jump in a limousine, attempted to blast himself 5,000 feet into the air. But his steam-powered rocket plummeted back to Earth after the parachute was torn off during the botched launch. "Everyone was stunned," said one eyewitness.

    What was Hughes shooting for? He once said he hoped to reach space to prove the Earth is flat — though after his death, a representative claimed that was merely "a PR stunt" to raise money.

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    Uganda Is Africa's Crypto-Scam Haven

    Don't bank on this. A series of cryptocurrency scams is rocking Uganda, turning the East African nation into an unlikely hub for fraudulent firms claiming to offer digital currencies, OZY reports. In the last six months alone, at least five have crumbled, taking with them more than $26 million of their clients’ money — part of an estimated $1 billion lost over the past two years. Hitting broad swaths of Ugandan society, such scams prey on weak governance and low financial literacy.

    What's the bigger picture? Uganda's experience holds a lesson for other poor countries with weak regulations that might be tempted by the sometimes misleading promise of technology.

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    UK Faces 'Record' Diabetes Risk

    Nearly 2 million Britons have non-diabetic hyperglycemia, putting them at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to the National Health Service. That means the country could witness an extra 39,000 heart attacks and more than 50,000 strokes by 2035. Already, the agency says, 1 in 6 hospital beds is occupied by a diabetes patient — a trend that's likely to worsen, given the country's "growing obesity crisis."

    What's the NHS doing about it? It's testing an 800-calorie, three-month weight loss plan on around 5,000 at-risk patients starting in April.

    Check out OZY's story about the mental health app that checks on you.

  4. Report: Kirk Douglas Left Fortune to Charity

    The iconic actor from Hollywood's golden age, who died Feb. 5 at age 103, reportedly ordered that most of his $61 million estate be doled out by the Douglas Foundation. Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, Culver City's Kirk Douglas Theatre and Children's Hospital Los Angeles will be among the recipients of the $50 million. It will also fund a scholarship for minority students at the actor's alma mater, St. Lawrence University.

    Why so generous? Douglas made philanthropy his second career, becoming a U.S. goodwill ambassador before launching his own charitable foundation in 1964.

    Don't miss OZY's feature about Hollywood's new profit model.

  5. Thousands Expected at Kobe Bryant Memorial

    Weeks after their Jan. 26 death in a California helicopter crash, the NBA legend and his daughter Gianna will be honored by 20,000 mourners at the Staples Center in Los Angeles today. Some 80,000 people applied for tickets to the memorial, which is expected to attract many current and former basketball icons, and all proceeds will go the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation. The event will air live on ESPN at 1 p.m. ET.

    Why was Monday selected? The date is a nod to Kobe and Gianna's jersey numbers — as were ticket prices, which ranged from $24.02 to $242.