The Presidential Daily Brief


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    The Olympics Won't Happen This Year

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the International Olympic Committee has "responded with 100 percent agreement" to his proposal to postpone this year's Summer Games in Tokyo. The U.S. Olympic Committee was the latest national group to publicly demand the event be called off, while longtime IOC member Dick Pound further hinted at the possibility to American media yesterday.

    How many previous Olympics were scrapped? The First and Second World Wars derailed the games in 1916, 1940 and 1944.

    Don't miss OZY's story about when the Austrian army saved the Olympics.

  2. One-Fifth of the World Is Locked Down

    From Nepal to New York, more than 1.5 billion people have been asked to stay at home to help stem the coronavirus pandemic. Doctors in France and the U.S. are scrambling for medical supplies, while the U.K. leveled its toughest peacetime restrictions ever. For his part, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards offered an insightful piece of advice about the virus: "Everybody needs to act as if they already have it."

    How is society changing? As OZY reports, authorities around the world are wondering what to do with highly susceptible prison populations — concerns that could alter criminal justice systems forever.

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    There's Still No American Stimulus Deal

    Yesterday Senate Democrats blocked a $1.8 trillion coronavirus aid package for the second day in a row, seeking tighter restrictions on how big businesses spend the federal cash they'll receive. Still, both Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said they're close to reaching a deal — which Schumer said could come this morning.

    Are other options on the table? Speaker Nancy Pelosi said House Democrats have their own $2.5 trillion package, prompting concerns that the process could drag on even longer, though she said they'll "see what the Senate does" first.

    Check out OZY's latest Donald Dossier on the "Trump checks."

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    White House Cuts $1 Billion in Afghan Aid

    After a fruitless meeting with Afghanistan's rival leaders yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has returned to Washington — and left the government in Kabul $1 billion poorer. Expressing his disappointment with President Ashraf Ghani and his political foe, Abdullah Abdullah, for failing to form a united front in peace talks with the Taliban, Pompeo threatened to cut another $1 billion in aid next year.

    What's next? The top diplomat said the U.S. would continue with the scheduled troop withdrawal it promised the Taliban, turning up the heat on Afghanistan's leaders to "get their act together."

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    Airlines, Airports Struggle Amid Coronavirus

    With fewer people to ferry around the skies, U.S. agencies and airlines are reportedly mulling plans for a virtual shutdown of passenger flights. Carriers have already cut most foreign departures and planned to reduce domestic routes by 40 percent. Airports are also learning how hard it can be to park thousands of grounded planes, some of which are as massive as an eight-story building. "It is sad for everyone, the whole industry," said one airport executive.

    How many people are flying? The Transportation Security Administration clocked an 80 percent decrease in passengers at checkpoints on Sunday compared to the same day in 2019.

  6. Also Important...

    President Donald Trump has claimed that he's planning to reopen the U.S. in weeks, not months, because the current closures could lead to "far bigger problems." Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond was cleared yesterday of sexually assaulting nine women while in office. And a small portion of the Great Wall of China has been reopened to tourists.

    OZYfact: Ora Washington dominated professional women’s basketball from 1930 to 1943 — while also capturing more than 20 national titles with the American Tennis Association during her two-decade career on another kind of court. Read more on OZY.

    Coronavirus Update: New York State has more than 10 times the number of confirmed infections as California, despite having only half the population.


  1. Scandinavia Is a COVID-19 Hotspot

    Though widely hailed for its world-leading health care standards, the region has still reported more infections per capita than any other multination geographic area on the planet. That could be down to robust testing regimes in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, OZY reports — or because they have slightly older populations that live in close proximity. Experts suggest they could also potentially be genetically predisposed.

    How are health care systems holding up? The region's mortality rate is around half that of America's, suggesting Scandinavia's medical professionals are on point.

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    Uber to Politicians: Protect Our Workers

    What's he driving at? CEO Dara Khosrowshahi called for U.S. lawmakers to remember the tech giant's drivers and couriers when negotiating the massive stimulus package. The goal, he wrote in a letter to President Trump, "is not to ask for a bailout," but to give independent contractors a safety net. Earlier, Khosrowshahi told investors rides are down as much as 70 percent in some cities.

    What's the bigger picture? Some critics say his plea partially undermines Uber’s argument that drivers shouldn't be considered full-time employees that are essential to its business.

    Read OZY's feature about restaurant workers biting back at delivery apps.

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    Are We Related to This Weird Worm?

    Dig this. Researchers have identified an extinct 555 million-year-old wormlike creature smaller than a grain of rice as the earliest known ancestor of virtually all living animals. That's because Ikaria wariootia was a bilaterian — meaning both sides of its body were symmetrical — and boasted a gut connecting front and rear orifices. Though very simple by today's standards, Ikaria were "remarkably complex" for their time, experts say, using primitive senses to burrow into the ocean floor for food.

    Why does it matter? The discovery sheds light on the evolutionary process, since bilateral symmetry was a key step along the way.

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    Woody Allen's Controversial Memoir Is Out

    After Hachette Publishing ditched the director — who's accused of sexually abusing his adopted daughter — Arcade Publishing didn't flinch while releasing Apropos of Nothing yesterday. Hachette's plans had sparked a backlash, including a recent staff walkout, but Arcade is apparently ready for any controversy that comes its way: Opting to "give voice to a respected writer and filmmaker," it said it refused to "bow to the politically correct pressures of the modern world."

    What's in the memoir? Besides denying the abuse allegations, 84-year-old Allen also slams ex-wife Mia Farrow, describing her as a terrible mother.