The Presidential Daily Brief

Important

  1. Weinstein shutterstock 279099371

    Harvey Weinstein Gets 23 Years in Prison

    The disgraced Hollywood producer was sentenced to more than two decades behind bars Wednesday on one charge each of committing a criminal sexual act and third-degree rape. He'd faced a total of 29 years for the two incidents, which occurred in New York City in 2006 and 2013. Rape, said one of his victims in court today, "is forever."

    What's next? While Weinstein's team prepares an appeal, it remains to be seen when he'll travel to California to face several similar charges.

  2. Coronavirus Tightens Its Global Grip

    The U.S. has now recorded more than 1,000 cases, and infections in locked-down Italy have surpassed 10,000 as new clusters expand around the world. More than half of the 10 hardest-hit countries outside China are in Europe. Yet Asia was also gripped by fresh concerns as South Korea clocked a new uptick after several days of falling figures, and Japan recorded one of its highest single-day spikes yet.

    Is China out of the woods? Despite seemingly heading toward recovery, researchers found that more than one-third of the population has experienced psychological distress from the outbreak.

    Follow OZY's continuing coverage of the coronavirus crisis.

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    Joe Biden Leaves Bernie Behind

    He hasn't Berned out. With at least four victories in primaries yesterday — including a key win in Michigan — the former vice president pulled further ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders in the race for the Democratic nomination. "It’s more than a comeback," he told supporters in Philadelphia. The results suggest voters aren't in the mood for the sort of drawn-out primary battle they endured in 2016.

    How bad does it look for Bernie? Observers say his loss in the Wolverine State exposed his weakness among white working-class voters, leaving his campaign mortally wounded "in every way other than mathematically."

  4. afghan army soldier on pickup with machine gun us do d crop

    Is Afghanistan Any Closer to Peace?

    After the U.N. Security Council's unanimous approval yesterday of the peace deal between the U.S. and the Taliban, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani signed an order releasing 1,500 militants as a goodwill gesture ahead of talks with the group. Meanwhile, Washington warned the Taliban against further violence, as a top U.S. military commander told Congress that the group's not holding up "their part of the bargain."

    What's the bigger picture? It's unclear how the Afghan government will negotiate with the Taliban when it remains gripped by political infighting of its own.

    Check out this OZY feature about Afghanistan's surprising success story.

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    Panic Still Roiling World Markets

    Despite brief glimmers of hope, global stocks dipped again Wednesday as investors remain uneasy about whether governments can stop the financial bleeding from coronavirus. Although it ended 4.8 percent up yesterday, the S&P 500 appears poised to open 2 percent down today — fresh off the heels of a 2.3 percent decline by Japan's Nikkei 225, which closed at its lowest level in more than a year.

    What's next? Investors doubt stimulus efforts like President Donald Trump's proposed payroll tax cut will help, but officials are trying anyway: Today, the Bank of England announced it's cutting interest rates to 0.25 percent.

  6. Also Important...

    Oil giant Saudi Aramco says it'll boost production to more than 12 million barrels per day. Japan is commemorating the nine-year anniversary of its devastating earthquake and tsunami without any government ceremonies. And disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein will be sentenced today on two counts of sexual assault.

    OZYfact: In his first-ever interview, in 1991, a 39-year-old Vladimir Putin spoke passionately in defense of democracy. Read more on OZY.

    Coronavirus Update: The U.K. and the Netherlands have the same number of confirmed cases — 382 — despite the Dutch population being around a quarter of the United Kingdom's.

Intriguing

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    Will Putin Rule Russia Forever?

    In power since 2000, President Vladimir Putin may end up serving longer than Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. An unexpected proposal in his rubber-stamp Parliament yesterday would reset the clock on his term limits, leaving 67-year-old Putin free to stick around until 2036. It's another political twist following the constitutional reforms he proposed in January, which many predicted would see him leave the presidency but retain power in another form.

    What do Russians think? A recent survey by an independent pollster found that they're almost evenly split over the issue — though more than half don't understand why the Constitution needs to be changed.

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    Coronavirus Could Dash Venezuelans' Hopes

    As the rest of South America shuts its doors, Venezuela's 1,400-mile border with Colombia is the only option for refugees fleeing the crisis-ridden country. But a coronavirus outbreak, which experts say would spread quickly, could force Colombia to tighten a migration policy that's earned international praise, OZY reports. In addition to hand-washing stations, Colombian officials have set up heat-seeking cameras along the border to detect migrants with fevers — but those measures alone won't cut it.

    What's the biggest challenge? The real problem is rooted in Venezuela's broken health care system, which has just one well-equipped lab.

  3. NASA logo Kennedy Space Center shutterstock 70213219

    NASA's New Rocket Is Too Expensive

    They're shooting for the stars — but will they get there? NASA's inspector general has recommended that Congress review the agency's Space Launch System program, which has struggled to get off the ground after blowing through costs and deadlines by more than 33 percent. The foundation of NASA's effort to return humans to the moon by 2024, the SLS was initially slated to debut in 2017 but won't fly any earlier than next year.

    How expensive is it? The price tag could reach $17 billion by the end of the year, the inspector said, compared to the roughly $10 billion originally foreseen in 2014.

    Read this OZY feature about the U.S. military's space spending.

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    Coachella Is Officially Postponed

    Following rampant speculation, organizers announced the major music festival will be postponed from mid-April to mid-October. Country music bash Stagecoach, which was set to take place at the same Southern California location shortly after, has also been bumped to late October. The developments follow last week's cancellations of Austin's South by Southwest Festival and Miami's Ultra Music Festival.

    What happens to ticket holders? While Coachella organizers said they'll honor all tickets in October, travelers could find themselves at mercy of airlines, hotels and Airbnb hosts with varying cancellation policies.

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    NFL Squads Seek Rule Changes

    Will the league play ball? The Eagles, Dolphins, Ravens and Chargers are urging the NFL to switch things up with changes that include expanding automatic replay reviews and adding a "booth umpire" to the officiating crew. Another would allow a 4th-and-15 play from a team's own 25-yard line instead of an onside kick. For any new rule to be implemented, 24 of 32 team owners must approve it.

    How often are rules changed? Perhaps more than you'd think: The previous offseason saw a slew of changes, including banning blindside blocks.

    Don't miss OZY's story about the punter who changed pro football forever.