The Presidential Daily Brief

Important

  1. The US Is the World's Most Infected Country

    With more than 85,000 confirmed cases, it has now surpassed regional epicenters China and Italy in confirmed COVID-19 infections. Although its death toll of nearly 1,300 lags behind both countries, governors from New York to Louisiana are warning that crucial supplies are rapidly running out. "People around me I know are dying," said a 48-year-old Detroit man. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he tested positive.

    Is help coming? While the White House nixed a costly plan to produce more ventilators, some medical schools are churning out early graduates and a Navy hospital ship is pulling up to New York City three weeks ahead of schedule.

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    American Workers Are Feeling the Pain

    "We’re day by day here." So said one small business owner who's bracing for more layoffs as the coronavirus crisis ravages the U.S. economy. Last week's record 3.3 million unemployment claims are "likely just the beginning," experts say, as workers eagerly wait for the House to approve a $2 trillion rescue package today. Still, some worry the cash — which includes $1,200 direct payments to most Americans — won't come soon enough.

    Will this be the only stimulus? Lawmakers could consider further relief options after they return from a break, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying, "We’re probably going to need more money."

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    Is Nicolas Maduro Really a Drug Boss?

    The Venezuelan strongman called President Donald Trump a "racist cowboy" after the U.S. Justice Department slapped narco-terrorism and other criminal charges against the socialist leader and a handful of his senior officials yesterday. They're alleged to have conspired with Colombia's leftist FARC rebels to traffic cocaine into America, and now have multimillion-dollar bounties hanging over their heads.

    What's next? While Maduro's critics praised the move, others say it risks further fracturing Venezuela — and potentially the international coalition against him — during a uniquely sensitive time.

    Read OZY's story about Venezuelan migrants joining Colombian gangs.

  4. Bibi Is Not Going Anywhere Yet

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's chief rival, centrist Benny Gantz, stunned observers yesterday by saying he'd work with Bibi to end Israel's yearlong political deadlock. "Let’s join hands and get Israel out of this crisis," he told Parliament. Supporters of Gantz — who'll serve as temporary speaker before likely taking a Cabinet position — accused him of betraying everyone who wanted an alternative to Netanyahu, who's been indicted on corruption charges.

    Why the sudden turnaround? While the coronavirus pandemic probably pressured Gantz to play ball, he may have also secured himself a brighter political future in the long-term.

  5. Also Important...

    President Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, have reportedly spoken over the phone about cooperating to fight the coronavirus. Global stocks fell today after a brief three-day rally. And Bob Dylan has broken an eight-year drought of original music to release a 17-minute track about the JFK assassination.

    Try This: Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB Quiz.

    Coronavirus Update: As of early Friday, COVID-19 has claimed more than 24,300 lives around the world.

Intriguing

  1. Why Young Americans Aren't Staying Home

    As coronavirus continues infecting thousands by the day, youngsters seem too willing to risk the odds of contracting — and spreading — the disease to uphold their personal right to party. And according to philosopher Laura Kalmes, it's older folks' fault. That's because Gen Zers learned from example: After years of absorbing anti-government rhetoric from pundits and politicians, young Americans have no reference point for a benevolent bureaucracy.

    What does it all mean? The pandemic could force us to rethink previous priorities that placed personal liberty over the common good.

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    Japan Airlines Ditches Female Dress Code

    The air carrier became the country's first major company to do so, announcing yesterday that trousers and flat shoes are fair game for its nearly 6,000 female flight attendants. The change, which takes effect next month, is a key victory for the #KuToo campaign against strict beauty standards in the Land of the Rising Sun. Earlier this month, the movement got a boost from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who said high heels shouldn't be a workplace requirement.

    How are activists reacting? Actress Yumi Ishikawa, who launched #KuToo, called it "a great step" — but noted that banks, hotels and department stores, among a slew of other employers, should follow suit.

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    Neanderthals Were Fans of Seafood

    What a catch! After digging through fossil food remains in a cave in coastal Portugal, an international team of researchers discovered that our hominin ancestors enjoyed a mixed diet that included mussels, crabs, seals and fish. Those weren't the only exotic items on the menu: They also found evidence that Neanderthals chowed down on roasted pine nuts, while using the wood for fuel.

    How did that affect their development? It puts them closer to Homo sapiens, who experts say boosted their cognitive functions with the fatty acids found in seafood.

    Don't miss OZY's True Story about the mysterious Cardiff Giant.

  4. Reports: Harry and Meghan Move to America

    They'll be Hollywood royalty. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, plus their 10-month-old son, Archie, have reportedly decamped to Los Angeles from Canada's Vancouver Island. The plan is believed to have been in the works for a while, especially given Meghan's local support network there, which includes her mother.

    What's next for the couple? The duchess could continue her Hollywood career, following news that she voiced an elephant documentary for Disney — while Harry, according to one source, is "not looking back."

    Don't miss OZY's Special Briefing on Harry and Meghan's royal exit.

  5. Steph Curry Talks COVID-19 With Fauci

    Killing time off the court, the Golden State Warriors star sat down with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in an Instagram Live Q&A session last night. Tens of thousands — including ex-President Barack Obama and Justin Bieber — tuned in to watch Curry pose questions about COVID-19, in particular about the need for social distancing.

    What's the bigger picture? While public health experts praised Fauci for getting the word out as widely as possible, Curry was also lauded for setting a powerful example for countless fans.