The Presidential Daily Brief

Important

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    Trump Pulls World Health Organization Funds

    "Everybody knows what is going on there." With those words, President Donald Trump announced he'll pause U.S. funding to the U.N. agency for "severely mismanaging" its coronavirus response. That decision follows mounting criticism of his administration's own sluggish strategy. Meanwhile, Trump reportedly pushed for his name to be included on the stimulus checks millions of Americans will receive.

    How damaging could the funding cut be? The U.S. accounts for nearly 15 percent of the WHO's budget, while Bill Gates — whose charitable organization is its second-largest donor — said "no other organization can replace them."

    Check out OZY's unique coverage of the global pandemic.

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    South Koreans Brave COVID-19 to Vote

    Millions of voters flocked to freshly disinfected polling stations Wednesday to cast their ballots in parliamentary elections across the East Asian nation. And coronavirus, which has infected more than 10,000 people there, didn't stop them: Early figures suggest turnout could be higher than the previous election. Today's contest is seen as a referendum on President Moon Jae-in and his Democratic Party.

    What's the bigger picture? The first nationwide ballot since the pandemic began, it could provide a blueprint for officials elsewhere once their outbreaks stabilize.

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    Will Obama’s Backing Help Joe Biden?

    Ex-President Barack Obama finally piped up yesterday to support his former No. 2 in his bid for the White House. But in saying it's "time to go further" with bold policy proposals — and heaping praise on Sen. Bernie Sanders, who dropped out last week — some believe Obama is more focused on unifying the Democratic Party. Others doubt it's enough to sway the "vocal, fiercely loyal" Sanders crowd.

    How else could Obama lend a hand? Citing his sleek, well-executed virtual address, pundits say he should also let Biden borrow his team's digital campaigning talents.

    Don't miss OZY's take on Bernie's next possible step.

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    US Treasury, Airlines Strike Bailout Deal

    That'll fly. The six largest U.S. airlines are among those that said they'll take a chunk of the $25 billion bailout offered in the government's coronavirus stimulus package. That'll allow them to continue paying salaries and "help preserve the strategic importance of the airline industry," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Major carriers will have to repay 30 percent of the funds and grant the government warrants to acquire 10 percent of the loan's value in stock.

    Is this a quick fix? While airline executives praised the measure, some warned that it'll only add to their mounting debt.

  5. Also Important...

    A forthcoming report from the U.S. Commerce Department is expected to show a record drop in retail sales. China has been accused of failing to warn the public about its coronavirus outbreak for six days. And a man believed to be one of Brazil's top drug barons was arrested yesterday in Mozambique after more than 20 years on the run.

    OZYfact: American business owners who apply for a federal Economic Injury Disaster Loan may be able to borrow up to $2 million at an interest rate of 3.75 percent. Read more on OZY.

    Coronavirus Update: Global COVID-19 infections have surpassed 1.98 million, with nearly 127,000 deaths.

Intriguing

  1. We Might Be Social Distancing Until 2022

    A new study by Harvard researchers suggests intermittent restrictions might be necessary in the absence of effective drugs against COVID-19 — or if the capacity for critical care isn't "increased substantially." That conclusion adds to recent commentary from other medical experts, who say some social restrictions will last longer than most people expect. "This is about the next two years," said one epidemiologist.

    What will the pandemic's evolution look like? Researchers say much depends on the course of seasonal transmission, and whether recovered patients become immune to the virus.

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    Grocers: Make Workers 'First Responders'

    It's food for thought. Together with a top union, Kroger, America's largest grocery chain, appealed to federal and state officials yesterday to designate employees as "emergency personnel." That status would improve access to safety equipment and testing for what Kroger describes as "frontline workers." It follows a similar call from Albertsons, the second-largest chain, last week.

    How hard have grocery workers been hit? The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union says at least 30 have died of COVID-19 — while another 3,000 have missed work to self-quarantine.

    Read OZY’s feature about how local cafés are serving you through the crisis.

  3. Is Liberty U Cashing In on COVID-19?

    A student has filed a federal class action suit against the Christian university, claiming it profited from the coronavirus pandemic by refusing to refund thousands of dollars in fees. Drexel University and University of Miami face similar lawsuits, but Liberty's likely to face added pressure after President Jerry Falwell Jr. welcomed students back to its Virginia campus last month after spring break.

    Do school officials have something to hide? Liberty says the case is "without legal merit" — though it also recently obtained arrest warrants against journalists investigating it.

    Check out OZY's story about why it might be easier to get into college.

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    Cannes Film Festival Searches for a Stage

    They're screening possibilities. Following French President Emmanuel Macron's announcement banning all public events through mid-July, the world-renowned festival, which had already been pushed back once, won't take place in late June. But determined to make the event happen in 2020, organizers pledged yesterday to "explore all contingencies." Meanwhile, Cannes-bound films — such as Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch and Pixar's Soul — will need to decide where to premiere, if at all.

    What are Cannes' options? While organizers didn't elaborate, postponing yet again doesn't seem realistic, since an array of other autumn events stand in the way.

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    MLB Cheating Reaches the Cloud

    Will they get caught stealing? While Major League Baseball's on hold and team meetings take place virtually, cybercriminals are stalking ball clubs, attempting to phish, hack and worm their way into systems. Experts say sensitive data on everything from player development to advance scouting can be easily snatched from the cloud if teams aren't careful. One big league source told OZY their team's already sounded the alarm about cybersecurity.

    What's so dangerous? As in previous hacking scandals, all it takes is one employee opening a sketchy email attachment to blow the doors open.