The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Bernie Sanders Drops Presidential Bid

    Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who rallied progressive voters to move the Democratic party leftward in 2016 and again this year, has told his staff he is dropping his presidential bid. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who defeated Sanders in key state primaries to amass a nearly insurmountable Democratic delegate lead, is all but certain to face President Donald Trump in November's general election.

    How does this change things? For Democrats, it removes the complication of remaining states postponing their primaries because of the pandemic, which could have clouded Biden's nomination.

    Read OZY's feature on one Republican strategy for a distancing election.

  2. Trump Takes Aim at Experts, Watchdogs

    "They missed the call." So said President Donald Trump yesterday about the World Health Organization — which sounded the global alarm over coronavirus while Trump was still downplaying the danger. Calling the WHO "China-centric," he threatened to pull funding for the health institution. Trump's also continued targeting inspectors general: On Tuesday, he demoted the chief overseeing the spending of the $2 trillion stimulus package and attacked the top watchdog at Health and Human Services.

    What's the bigger picture? As OZY reports, the absence of strong federal leadership around the world has given capable local officials a serious boost in this crisis.

  3. Wuhan Returns to Normal as NYC Suffers

    China's coronavirus epicenter lifted its final lockdown restrictions today, sending citizens onto the streets and travelers out of town by the thousands. But across the world, the Big Apple posted a record single-day death toll, pushing the total beyond 4,000. "Behind every one of those numbers is an individual," said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Still, the U.S. surgeon general says he's "seeing mitigation work" around the country.

    Is China out of the woods? With suspicions rampant that Beijing has undercounted the number of cases — plus reports of new asymptomatic ones — experts are warning a second wave of infections may be on the way.

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    US Navy Secretary Quits Over Comments

    He went overboard. Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly stepped down yesterday after catching flak for calling an aircraft carrier commander "too naive or too stupid" for the job. Modly blamed his comments — directed at Capt. Brett Crozier, who Modly fired for begging top brass to address a coronavirus outbreak on his vessel — on a lack of "situational awareness." Army Under Secretary James McPherson will temporarily replace him.

    Why does it matter? With Navy leadership roiled in recent months by several high-profile scandals, some say it's sending the wrong message to America's adversaries.

    Follow OZY's continuing coverage of the coronavirus crisis.

  5. Market Optimism May Be Over Already

    After two days of positive moves, many are wondering whether global stocks will take a turn for the worse. Markets across Europe opened down around 1 percent following yesterday's slight slump by the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500. Wednesday's U.S. futures aren't fueling much hope, while analysts — who believe investors have been reading too much into scant data — say "volatility is likely to remain for some time."

    Where can we find positive signs? Oddly enough, in China: Local consumers are spending again, suggesting the world's second-largest economy is already starting to heal.

  6. Also Important...

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent his second night in intensive care for COVID-19 Tuesday. Nervous voters in Wisconsin headed to crowded polling stations yesterday in statewide elections. And scientists have spotted a larger-than-usual hole in the ozone layer above the Arctic.

    Coronavirus Update: With around 4,400 cases, Romania has a couple hundred more infections than Japan — despite being more than six times smaller in population.

    We heard you! This week we asked: Which aspects of day-to-day life do you think will change the most after the pandemic finally ends? OZY reader Charlie S. wonders what might become of the handshake: "English and the handshake have become part of the language of business globally. Maybe not anymore."


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    Is This How North Korea Is Hiding Its Nukes?

    They might be planting the seeds of destruction. A new report from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies suggests the Hermit Kingdom is using newly built phosphate fertilizer plants to boost uranium production. While researcher Margaret Croy made her case using circumstantial evidence, she said she'd observed a similar method — in which uranium is extracted from phosphoric acid — in countries like Syria.

    Why now? With international pressure increasing on North Korea to ditch its nukes, the plants could serve as a handy cover amid the country's very real crop shortage.

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    Twitter Founder Throws $1B at COVID-19

    Jack Dorsey tweeted an announcement Tuesday that he'll donate 28 percent of his personal wealth to help fight the global pandemic. The cash will come from his equity in financial services firm Square, and all grants from the newly established Start Small LLC will be detailed in a publicly available spreadsheet.

    Is there a longer-term plan? Dorsey said his foundation would extend beyond the coronavirus crisis to eventually focus on girls' health and education, as well as universal basic income.

    Don't miss OZY's feature about online dating in the age of COVID-19.

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    Why Suspending Student Loans Won't Help

    The government's $2 trillion aid package offers temporary student loan relief, but experts say it might not help those most in need. That's because an estimated 70 percent of the lowest-income borrowers hadn't been paying back their loans anyway, OZY reports. A six-month suspension, after all, isn't the same as forgiveness — it simply pauses payments. So the relief will mostly help the highest-income households that were already chipping away at their debt.

    Who else might benefit? Middle-income earners lucky enough to have a job could get a boost from the law's tax-free loan-matching scheme for their employers.

  4. Folk Legend John Prine Dies at 73

    The prolific songwriter died in Nashville yesterday after two weeks in intensive care battling coronavirus. With tunes like "Hello in There," "Paradise" and "Sam Stone," Prine was celebrated for telling musical tales of the everyman — no accident, since he wrote many of his early classics while working as an Illinois mailman. Kris Kristofferson, who helped launch his career in 1971, once noted, "If God's got a favorite songwriter, I think it's John Prine."

    Who else was a fan? Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Cash and Carly Simon all covered the two-time Grammy winner's music, which helped shape the Americana genre.

  5. Oklahoma State Coach Too Eager to Return

    Why is he rushing? Football coach Mike Gundy has angered the coronavirus-wary sports world by suggesting that his program could start returning to normal May 1. He proposed bringing staff back first, followed by athletes, as soon as enough tests are available. Claiming most of his players are fit enough to "fight it off," Gundy recommended sequestering any infected ones on campus. "Everybody needs to see football," he said.

    Can he really do that? The Big 12 conference has banned all in-person activity until May 31, while Oklahoma State was quick to say it'll "adhere to the advice of public health experts."