The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Italy Quarantines 16 Million to Stop COVID-19

    Imposing the most draconian containment measures outside of China, the Italian government today banned travel for residents of 15 northern provinces until April 3. Also, public venues such as schools and nightclubs will be closed nationwide, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced. With a death toll of 230, the country has the worst coronavirus outbreak in Europe, with confirmed cases skyrocketing from 1,200 to nearly 6,000 today as patients awaited treatment in hospital corridors.

    Will it work? It's thought that it may be too late to limit the spread, as there are already cases in the country's other regions.

    OZY examines the political pitfalls of virus-fighting.

  2. Harris Endorses Biden, Sanders Needs Michigan

    While Michigan win helped establish Sen. Bernie Sanders' blue-collar appeal in 2016, it could be his 2020 undoing. After last week's disastrous Super Tuesday, which gave Vice President Joe Biden 10 of 14 states and a Democratic presidential delegate lead, this coming Tuesday Sanders can't afford to lose Michigan. Polls, clouded by ex-candidates, suggest Biden has the edge, especially among a sizable Black electorate. Today's endorsement from former rival Sen. Kamala Harris, of Jamaican and Indian heritage, should also boost Biden.

    What other primaries happen Tuesday? Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington State, the only clear Sanders stronghold.

    OZY contrasts Sanders' fist with Biden's heart.

  3. Europe Virus Cases Double, Sick Cruise to Dock in US

    As global coronavirus cases surpassed 100,000, the first U.S. East Coast deaths were reported, with two Florida fatalities bringing the national toll to 17 among 300 confirmed cases. Vice President Mike Pence has said a cruise ship quarantined off the California coast with 3,533 passengers will dock at a "noncommercial port" with 21 confirmed cases so authorities can conduct more testing and provide medical care.

    What's happening elsewhere? In three days, cases in 30 European countries doubled, exceeding 7,300 Friday, while among 74 new cases reported Saturday in China's Hubei province, none were outside of the city of Wuhan, the worldwide outbreak's origin.

    OZY diagnoses the cruise industry.

  4. taliban shutterstock 140498833

    Trump Concedes Taliban Might Take Over

    “Countries have to take care of themselves.” That was President Donald Trump’s blunt assessment of the week-old U.S. peace deal with the Taliban, after acknowledging Friday that Afghanistan may fall under the militant group's control after all foreign forces withdraw in 14 months. Hours before the White House statement, an attack claimed by the Islamic State group killed some 30 people at a Kabul event attended by President Ashraf Ghani’s rival presidential candidate, Abdullah Abdullah, who was unharmed.

    Are the Taliban likely to break their promises? NBC quoted a source briefed on U.S. intelligence saying, “They have no intention of abiding by their agreement.”

  5. erdoganshutterstock 476076898

    Erdogan Is Forcing Europe to Look at Syria

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has “weaponized vulnerable people,” writes Dutch European Union Parliamentarian Kati Piri, by opening the refugee floodgates into Europe and violating his 2016 deal with the bloc to keep them. Faced with a new migrant crisis, the Continent's leaders may be forced to support Erdoğan’s military aims in Syria, Piri warns.

    What’s happening? According to journalist Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, Europe — and even the United Nations — have neglected the latest carnage, with some 800 Syrians killed and nearly 1 million displaced in Idlib province since last spring.

    Read this OZY look at how Russia is exploiting Syria’s ancient heritage.

  6. Also Important...

    Saudi authorities have detained three members of the royal family for allegedly plotting to overthrow the king and crown prince. President Trump has named steadfast ally Rep. Mark Meadows as his new chief of staff. And the Federal Aviation Administration has recommended a $20 million fine against Boeing for installing unapproved guidance systems on its infamous 737 Max jets.

    In the week ahead: Today is International Women's Day, marked by a United Nations finding that gender equality is in decline. On Wednesday, disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein is to be sentenced Wednesday on a New York rape conviction. And Austin's South by Southwest festival, scheduled to begin Friday, has been cancelled for the first time in 34 years because of coronavirus concerns.

    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. The Great Congo Climate Scam

    When Denis Sassou-Nguesso, president of the Republic of Congo, announced the discovery of 359 million underground oil reserves, he vowed that his country would protect vital carbon-storing peatlands above the oil — with European help. France and Germany pledged $68 million in environmental protection money. But there’s a hitch: A new journalistic collaboration has uncovered evidence that the oil field was a sham.

    What does this suggest? That concern over climate change may have unleashed a new cash cow for kleptocrats, threatening, as one former Brazzaville official says, “if you don’t give us money, we’ll destroy the jungle.”

    OZY explores the future of aid.

  2. botswana elephant shutterstock 1119055622

    He’s Taking Animal Rights to a New Level

    When Kevin Schneider saw that Happy the elephant was sad, he took action — legal action. But the animal rights activist isn’t satisfied with trying to compel the Bronx Zoo to send Happy to an elephant sanctuary, OZY reports. He wants the courts to confer personhood, which would make Happy a pachyderm plaintiff with legal rights. Schneider’s Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) argues that if corporations can be persons, so can animals.

    Is it just elephants? NhRP is also representing chimpanzees, citing the science that shows their cognitive abilities, to help convince judges, who’ve so far stopped short of granting critters’ “human” rights.

  3. How an App Changed Life for LGBTQ China

    China’s gay community is estimated to be larger than France’s total population. Even so, the community remained secretive until now, when technology has brought many of its members into the light. A major driver of that evolution is Blued, a social networking app that helps LGBTQ members navigate China’s inconsistent rules and laws governing sexuality. 

    What does it mean for the country? Blued is showing the government that gay-focused businesses can work, an important hurdle for social movements in China.

    OZY takes a look at the safety of dating apps.

  4. A Fact-Checker Battles COVID-19 Myths

    What you know can hurt you. Already enduring the spread of COVID-19, the world is also beset by a pandemic of online lies. It’s “probably the most damaging type of misinformation we encounter online,” writes Agence France-Presse fact-checker Rachel Blundy from Hong Kong. The fake news ranges from a “doctor” assuring dupes that the coronavirus can’t spread through the air to xenophobic slurs suggesting the virus is linked to those of Chinese ethnicity.

    Does the misinformation cause harm? Blundy herself has been directly affected: A hoax that China had stopped making toilet paper sparked panic buying and shortages.

    OZY profiles India’s information warrior.

  5. If Brady’s Going to San Francisco …

    … he’ll demand some $30 million there. With a new Patriots contract in doubt, six-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady’s prospects have sports media abuzz, and that humming is turning toward the 49ers. Growing up in the Bay Area, the aging GOAT quarterback could believably stage his swan song in the uniform of his boyhood hero Joe Montana and work with an offensive Gandalf of a head coach, Kyle Shanahan.

    What are the obstacles? Incumbent QB Jimmy Garoppolo, for all his deficiencies, was no worse than Brady last season, and Brady might not integrate well into Shanahan’s storied system.