The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. House OKs New Stimulus, Jobless Claims Rise

    Another $484 billion has been approved for U.S. coronavirus relief, with the lion's share going to a fund for small businesses. But unemployment continues to mount: With 4.4 million new claims last week, the total since lockdowns started surged to a record 26 million. Recent estimates suggest 11 percent of the workforce has successfully filed for unemployment, wiping out all the job gains made since the 2008 financial crisis last plunged the country into recession. If trends continue, analysts predict, less than half of working-age Americans will be drawing wages in May.

    Check out OZY's list of suggested ways to spend stimulus money.

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    Ramadan Begins Amid Lockdowns, Bigotry

    Many of the world's 1.8 billion Muslims will be celebrating Ramadan in lockdown, with evening prayers and feasts largely taking place at home, in stark contrast to the normally social monthlong observance. But Muslims in India are dealing with a larger crisis: They've been culturally scapegoated as spreaders of the coronavirus, in some cases being attacked or denied care due to discrimination. Meanwhile, in neighboring Pakistan, authorities have rescinded bans on large gatherings for Ramadan prayers, raising worries about the public health effects.

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    Trump Floats Toxic Coronavirus Cures

    "Sunlight is the best disinfectant" is just an idiom. But President Donald Trump suggested at a Thursday briefing that ultraviolet light, heat or disinfectants — which have proven effective at killing coronavirus on surfaces — could be injected inside the body. Alarmed health experts around the world warned that inhaling, ingesting or injecting disinfectant could easily be fatal. This week the CDC reported that calls to poison centers about cleaning chemicals have increased as sales of disinfectants soar, and a court case is pending against a church group that marketed bleach as a coronavirus treatment.

  4. Nursing Homes Want Immunity From Lawsuits

    Coronavirus has claimed the lives of an estimated 10,000 American nursing home residents already, and such facilities in many states are now attempting to get immunity from any ensuing lawsuits. Homes say that with a shortage of protective equipment, constantly changing official guidance on the virus and inherently vulnerable populations, they can't be held responsible for deaths. But critics point to a widespread lack of planning for infection, and many worry that an increase in protection will just lead to more negligence.

    OZY explores how doctors are sourcing makeshift masks.

  5. Also Important...

    Forty-three men lived in a Pennsylvania factory for 28 days to make enormous quantities of raw materials for hospital protective gear. Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden says he thinks President Trump will try to delay the election. And Sen. Elizabeth Warren's oldest brother has died of coronavirus.

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

    Listen up! OZY's back with a brand new podcast. Tracing history's many twists, turns and unintended consequences, Flashback introduces you to the disastrous turning points, dangerous ideas and crazy coincidences that the history books never told you about. Subscribe now so you'll be the first to catch episode one on May 6, and as a special treat, check out our exclusive mini-episode about how Isaac Newton discovered gravity while social distancing during the Great Plague.


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    COVID-19 Takes Higher Toll on Black Americans

    While a virus can't discriminate, COVID-19 isn't hitting everyone equally. A new poll first published by OZY shows Black Americans are four times more likely than their white counterparts to know someone who's died of the disease. That's likely down to social inequities in frontline jobs: About a third of Black respondents told pollsters they're still having to leave the house for work — though they're less likely to go out for other reasons — compared to just a fifth of white people. And as states push to reopen, they'll be even more at risk.

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    Amazon Workers Say They Spied on Partners

    They didn't deliver on their promises. Amazon testified to Congress in July that while it's a marketplace for third-party sellers, it doesn't use data about those outside products when creating its in-house brands. But new reports and interviews with employees indicate that isn't true. The company says it's now launched an internal investigation. Meanwhile, founder and world's richest man Jeff Bezos is reportedly back to managing Amazon's day-to-day as it struggles with coronavirus outbreaks, employee strikes (including one today) and labor investigations.

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    27% of Earth's Insects Have Died in 30 Years

    It turns out you would hurt a fly. A new study has found that more than a quarter of all land insects have died off in the last three decades. That decline — which could be devastating to the food chain, considering insects' importance as pollinators — is most concentrated in North America's Midwest region, which lost about 4 percent of its bugs each year. Unlike other ecological disasters, though, this doesn't appear to be linked to climate change — rather to habitat loss. One hopeful note: Freshwater insects like dragonflies actually increased.

    OZY investigates why Mexico isn't a bug-eater's mecca.

  4. Iowa Gov. Acted on Tip From Ashton Kutcher

    Dude, where were the actual public health experts? Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a new $26 million deal to increase testing in her state — and said it came about due to a tip from the actor and Iowa native. Kutcher reportedly offered to set up a meeting with a friend at a testing company when the governor called to ask the Butterfly Effect star to record a PSA about staying home. They're hoping the program will triple the state's testing capacity, adding 3,000 more per day — though some critics were skeptical of Kutcher's role in the no-bid deal.

  5. Tom Brady Walks Into Wrong Person's House

    That's pretty far offside. The former Patriot, who's still getting used to his new turf since signing with Tampa Bay last month, tried to pick up training materials from offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich's house ... but walked into a stranger's home instead. Due to social distancing, Brady didn't knock. "He looked at me with the most confused face. I'll never forget it for the rest of my life," says homeowner David Kramer. Brady apologized and fled, but joked later on Twitter: "Just making myself at home in Tampa Bay."

    Read OZY's analysis of social distancing as a privilege.