The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Pete Buttigieg Halting Presidential Campaign

    Pete Buttigieg, the gay Midwestern mayor who made a surprisingly strong start in the Democratic primaries, but received only 8.2 percent yesterday in South Carolina's primary, has informed campaign workers that he'll suspend his campaign. "Mayor Pete" vaulted from South Bend, Indiana's chief executive to an unlikely moderate contender, winning the most delegates in Feb. 3 the Iowa Caucuses. At 38, he was also the youthful alternative to a field dominated by septuagenarians.

    How does this affect the race? OZY Politics Editor Daniel Malloy says Buttigieg's exit will be a boost to former Vice President Joe Biden, as he consolidates support ahead of Super Tuesday.

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    Biden Crushes Sanders in SC Primary

    With overwhelming support from Black voters, former Vice President Joe Biden captured a commanding 48.4 percent to win the South Carolina primary Saturday, offering Super Tuesday voters a seemingly viable establishment Democrat. OZY's Politics Editor Daniel Malloy reports that Biden oozed confidence as he addressed a roaring crowd in Columbia, his triumph depriving Sen. Bernie Sanders, who trailed Biden by 28.5 points, of a swift nomination route.

    Where does this put other hopefuls? Having prompted billionaire Tom Steyer to drop out, the results increase pressure on struggling Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, who shared 10 percent of the vote, to join him.

  3. Ghani Casts Doubts on Afghan Peace Pact

    A day after American and Taliban officials signed a historic agreement to end their 18-year-old conflict in Afghanistan, there's a stumbling block: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has rejected one of the agreement's provisions. The release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners by March 10 was "not in the authority of the U.S., Ghani said, and it won't be a precondition to the Islamic militant groups' talks with his government.

    What else is in the agreement? It calls for all foreign troops to leave Afghanistan within 14 months, while prohibiting al-Qaida and other terror groups from operating in Taliban-controlled areas.

    Read OZY's series on ending the war.

  4. Seattle Area Has First US COVID-19 Death

    A day after U.S. President Donald Trump called coronavirus concerns a "hoax," a 50-year-old man in the Seattle area became the disease's first fatality on U.S. soil. The patient had underlying health conditions and no known foreign connections, suggesting, like cases in Oregon and California, that the disease is spreading through communities. Australia and Thailand also reported their first COVID-19-related deaths Saturday, and the U.S. and other nations restricted travel to virus-hit areas.

    Is the virus spreading in Washington State? Health authorities confirmed two cases in a Seattle-area nursing home, where 52 residents and staff have exhibited symptoms.

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    Fed Signals Relief After Week's Market Rout

    Friday’s frenzied market swings, which shaved 3 percent from London’s FTSE index and caused wild drops and rebounds on Wall Street, were a dramatic close to a week that saw the Dow shed 12.4 percent — its worst week since the 2008 financial crisis. Uncertainty over the economic disruptions caused by coronavirus sparked the sell-offs, but few analysts could explain how things got so bad so quickly.

    Can it be helped? Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell indicated that the "evolving risks" may require new interest rate cuts, but analysts warned that jittery consumers' behavior will probably have far more impact than cheaper borrowing.

    OZY examines globalism's viral weakness.

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    Is Venezuela Going to Survive?

    Last April, it seemed the Venezuelan military might flip from President Nicolás Maduro to opposition lawmaker Juan Guaidó. But now it appears that the government on the brink of being overthrown amid a downward-spiraling economy and human rights abuses is gaining strength as the country’s oil industry recovers. Experts are questioning President Trump’s strategy of ousting Maduro via sanctions.

    How did this happen? A combination of poorly enforced sanctions, a disorganized political opposition and a system of patronage that has kept elites loyal even as it undermines economic stability.

    Read OZY’s look at why Venezuelan migrants are turning to crime.

  7. Also Important...

    Some 13,000 refugees are trying to cross into Greece after Turkey allowed them to migrate into Europe, setting aside its European Union agreement to prevent such movement. Voters in Slovakia ousted the country's ruling party Saturday in the wake of a corruption-fighting journalist's murder. And for the first time, German vintners cannot make ice wine this year because of the warm winter.

    In the week ahead: Israel holds its third parliamentary election in a year on Monday. And on Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a pivotal abortion case.

    OZY Fest is coming! New York’s biggest and boldest festival of cutting-edge music, comedy, conversation and food is returning to Central Park July 25. Among this year's guests will be Miguel, Tan France, Dulce Sloan, Andrew Yang, Alex Rodriguez — and many more. Get your tickets today at


  1. When Gas Overcomes Your Pilot

    In January, a British Airways pilot became unresponsive just before his plane landed in London. But it wasn’t a one-off incident. A study by the University of Kansas found that such incidents occur at least five times a day in the United States alone, while a cabin crew union says they average once a day on British Airways flights.

    Is there a solution? Airlines are already testing filtration systems for air intake, while some new aircraft don’t draw fresh air through their engines, which is thought to be the source of contamination.

    OZY’s Special Briefing examines Boeing’s viability.

  2. Why We Can’t Stop the Coronavirus

    The problem with COVID-19 is not that it’s likely to kill people — just the opposite. It’s predicted to infect 40 to 70 percent of humankind in the next year largely because many people won’t get sick, and some will appear healthy. That means stopping the coronavirus, as was done with the highly fatal and visible avian flu of the late 1990s, is likely impossible, and it could well become a recurring seasonal illness.

    Is a vaccine on the way? In the best-case scenario, a vaccine could be developed in a year, but more time will be needed to manufacture and distribute it.

  3. ‘Reborn’ Doll Fans Say They Needn’t Be Creepy

    Infant dolls retrofitted with lifelike features are portrayed in popular culture as surrogates assuaging childless women’s longing to be mothers, but aficionados say that’s incorrect. The dolls are simply a hobby, involving fun with collectibles women make, buy and sell. Fans spend thousands of dollars on silicone-enhanced infants and accessories that include strollers, bottles and diapers, which some exhibit on YouTube. 

    Why does this creep us out? One researcher believes the unease is rooted in societal norms that equate motherhood with women’s success. Meanwhile, she says, the dolls might offer therapeutic benefits for those with anxiety or depression.

    OZY observes another creepy doll phenomenon.

  4. The Digital Opus of India’s Classical Giant

    Pandit Jasraj has a minor planet named after him, but in India’s classical music tradition he pulls his own orbit. The 90-year-old Hindustani classical vocalist boasts a career of more than 1,000 performances in 200-plus cities, but his latest work may be his most ambitious, OZY reports: Jasgranth will define Jasraj’s legacy, compiling all of his work digitally and allowing anyone with broadband to access it.

    What will it mean for future musicians? The archive will be a 21st-century update on the long tradition of handing down knowledge from teacher to student, with documentation of Jasraj’s composition and teaching techniques.

  5. Olympics to Showcase AI Wizardry … Maybe

    All Nippon Airways is going for tech gold ahead of July’s Tokyo Olympics. With global visitors slated to descend on the city, a variety of new gadgets are to be rolled out, beginning with a hand-held 74-language translator. But none are as futuristic as Newme, a two-wheel device remote users can hire to whir through the city, providing digital eyes and ears and robotic hands for virtual tourism.

    Will there even be a 2020 Olympics? Good question. Coronavirus may force its cancellation — leaving Newme as a healthy alternative to visiting Japan. 

    OZY asks if the crisis will sink China’s chance for gold.