The Presidential Daily Brief

Important

  1. Infections Hit 2M as Trump Claims Crisis 'Peak'

    As global COVID-19 cases passed 2 million, President Donald Trump faced widespread opposition to his decision to cut U.S. funding to the World Health Organization, which he blames for the crisis. Meanwhile, demonstrators in Michigan, Kentucky and North Carolina protested social distancing restrictions, and Trump, saying U.S. deaths have "peaked," faced pushback from some business leaders on his efforts to restart society. Experts say that would require significantly expanding testing.

    If not WHO, whom? That's unclear, writes John McLaughlin, OZY columnist and former deputy CIA director, saying the crisis "vividly demonstrates to governments and populations the need for transnational action."

  2. South Korean President's Party Wins Big

    He has a healthy glow. Observing strict social distancing at polling places, voters gave President Moon Jae-in's Democratic Party and its coalition partner a resounding win Wednesday. On track to capture 180 of 300 National Assembly seats, Moon and his allies may be reaping citizens' gratitude for the country's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. South Korea has limited COVID-19 deaths so well the rest of the world is emulating its efforts, such as drive-through testing centers.

    Who else won? For the first time, a North Korean defector: Former Pyongyang diplomat Thae Yong Ho will represent a district in Seoul's wealthy Gangnam area.

    OZY examines how South Koreans shaped coronavirus testing.

  3. Fired US Navy Captain Might Get Job Back

    He'd "had a bad day." That comment by President Trump about Capt. Brett Crozier's "mistake" in defense of his coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier may have been a sign. Now Defense Department officials say the Navy is considering reinstating Crozier's command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which he lost after asking top brass for help in a letter that ended up leaked to the press. The virus is believed to have been brought aboard by flight crew operations.

    How's the crew now? By Wednesday, 615 had tested positive — including Crozier himself — while five were hospitalized and one had died.

    Follow OZY's ongoing pandemic coverage.

  4. IMF Predicts Zero Growth for 2020 in Asia

    For 60 years, the region's economy has always expanded. This year, the International Monetary Fund predicts Asia will stagnate because of the pandemic, which will cause more damage than either the late 1990s or 2008 financial crises. The group's Asia and Pacific Department director said that while there's "huge uncertainty" over the impact of coronavirus, the effect on the region will be "severe and unprecedented."

    How's Asia coping with the virus? While some areas of China have lifted restrictions, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to expand the current localized state of emergency to the whole country.

  5. Also Important...

    British doctors have managed to save the baby of a pregnant hospital nurse who died from COVID-19 Sunday. California has launched a $125 million disaster relief fund for undocumented immigrants. And a number of would-be recipients of U.S. coronavirus relief payments have complained that their money was sent to the wrong bank account.

    Coronavirus update: Germany plans to reopen schools on May 4, as well as allow some retailers to resume business.

    We heard you! Responding to our question about how confident you feel about your community's social distancing efforts, Angela said Portland, Oregon, is "mostly quiet, but there are some people who don't understand 'back the f--- up.' One day at a time, right?"

Intriguing

  1. Wuhan Bat Lab Virus Theory Gains Traction

    The bat's out of the bag. A theory that the coronavirus originated in a Chinese laboratory doing antiviral research seems immune to experts' efforts to tamp it down. Fueling the theory are two 2018 U.S. State Department cables warning of safety concerns at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where other coronaviruses in bats were studied.

    How credible is it? While President Trump discussed the theory yesterday in a briefing, the top U.S. general said this week that the "weight of evidence" indicated the virus originated naturally, not in a lab.

    Check out OZY's Butterfly Effect taking on racist politics in the U.S. and China.

  2. Amazon Shuts French Warehouses

    Your package has reached ... an impasse. The retail giant is suspending deliveries and closing distribution centers in France until April 20 after a court ruled it wasn't adequately protecting workers. Labor unions had sued, accusing Amazon of violating distancing rules by forcing staff to work in close proximity. The court gave the company 24 hours to restrict shipments to essential items like food and medical supplies or risk hefty fines, but Amazon instead decided to temporarily halt operations.

    How will the shutdown work? The company, which claims it's taken proper precautions, says it will pay full salaries during the five-day safety review of its facilities.

  3. Why Sharing Yearbook Pics Is Risky

    Those likes might cost you. The recent meme of sharing grainy high school yearbook pics is affording social media users all kinds of LOLs, hearts and upturned thumbs. But none of those will match the "wow" emojis you'll get after your credit card is run up by scammers. The Better Business Bureau has warned that the trend, meant to show support for 2020 seniors missing the end of their final year of high school, actually provides fodder for online thieves.

    How does it work? Accompanying details often include answers to common online security questions — also a reason to avoid online quizzes.

  4. Axed 'Hollywood Reporter' Staff Prank Site

    Maybe change the passwords next time? The IT department of the entertainment industry magazine did not go quietly when parent company Valence Media made staff cuts at THR and sister publications Billboard and Vibe this week. Some ousted workers — who still had access to the site — posted a message about the layoffs featuring an image and quote from the 1978 frat comedy Animal House.

    What's the larger picture? Many already-struggling publications are now in worse economic trouble, prompting Google to launch its Journalism Emergency Relief Fund for "small, medium and local news publishers globally."

    OZY profiles a reporter under fire.

  5. Snowboarder Found Her Footing on DIY Legs

    Struck by meningococcal meningitis, which left her in cardiac arrest with a 2 percent chance of survival, 19-year-old snowboarder Amy Purdy recalls thinking, "I'm not ready to go." Doctors had to amputate both her feet, but she pulled through. Now she's looking back on her ordeal as one of OZY's Defining Moments, a new TV series exclusively on Hulu. After duct-taping custom prosthetics together, Purdy returned to snowboarding, becoming a Paralympic medalist.

    What's life like two decades later? She's an example of perseverance, giving motivational talks to corporations, competing on Dancing with the Stars — and creating opportunities for athletes with disabilities.