The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. US Skips Virtual Vaccine Summit

    The world came together online yesterday, with international leaders discussing medical efforts and pledging $8.2 billion from both governments and the private sector to aid the race for a coronavirus vaccine. But the U.S. — the country most affected by the disease — skipped out, as did Russia and India. China, where the virus began, sent an ambassador instead of Premier Li Keqiang. Asked to explain their absence, American officials claimed the U.S. is the world's largest humanitarian donor, but did not elaborate. Multiple vaccines are currently in trials in countries around the globe.

  2. US Daily Deaths Projected to Rise 70%

    About half the states in the U.S. are beginning to open their economies — and while many haven't hit the benchmarks set forth by the White House to enable a safe restart, President Donald Trump hailed their push forward. Still, the administration's internal projections now show the death toll rising to 3,000 per day by June 1, along with 200,000 new cases daily — a 70 percent and 700 percent increase respectively. Meanwhile, the White House barred members of its coronavirus task force from testifying to Congress without express permission.

    Check out all OZY's coronavirus coverage here.

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    Supreme Court Hears Cases Via Phone

    It's their call. Spurred by coronavirus lockdowns, America's highest court listened to oral arguments by conference call for the first time yesterday, and broadcast them via an unprecedented livestream. The first case — a trademark law dispute — saw the notoriously taciturn Justice Clarence Thomas break a yearlong silence to ask multiple questions. Lawyers are expected to largely make arguments from their homes, though some say they'll still wear formal attire for the calls. The next two weeks may spark fireworks with legal arguments about subpoenas of President Trump's financial records.

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    In Crisis, Iran Ditches Its Currency

    It's a battle rial. Iran, which has confirmed over 6,200 COVID-19 deaths, has seen its potential economic recovery totally derailed. In a desperate bid to strengthen its currency, Parliament passed a bill changing the official monetary unit from the rial to another existing unit, the toman. But while a toman was worth 10 rials, it's now worth 10,000. Analysts say this could be groundwork for unifying the official exchange rate (currently 42,000 rials to the dollar) with the on-the-ground one (156,000 rials to the dollar). The change still needs to be approved by Iran's Guardian Council.

  5. Also Important...

    Carnival Cruise Line says it will resume business in August despite the COVID-19 crisis. A Michigan family has been charged with murder for allegedly shooting a security guard in the back of the head when he refused entry to a store for not wearing face masks. And a senior engineer at Amazon has quit in disgust over the company's treatment of workers asking for coronavirus protections.

    Coronavirus update: The global death toll from the virus has now passed a quarter of a million people.

    We heard you! Responding to our question about whether you would vote in person during the pandemic, Peter M. said that while he lives in a state allowing vote-by-mail, he'd still go to the polls if it didn't. "People in other countries vote under the threat of personal harm or worse," he says, "so I’d be willing to risk a virus."


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    Irish Repay Famine Debt to Native Americans

    At least 73 members of the Navajo nation have died of COVID-19, exacerbated by the lack of running water in 40 percent of Navajo homes. The tribe, joined by the Hopi, set up a GoFundMe page for water and fresh food — and donations have flooded in from Ireland. In 1847, the Choctaw tribe raised about $170 (the equivalent of $5,000 today) for Irish people during the Great Famine. Now many donating to the tribal fund, which has raised about $1.6 million, mention the historical favor. "Returning your kindness 170 years and 4,000 miles later," one wrote.

    Read OZY's love letter to powwows.

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    WeWork Founder Sues Over Aborted Buyout

    They couldn't make it work. Adam Neumann, co-founder of the troubled coworking giant, has filed suit against SoftBank for pulling a $3 billion tender offer for shares in the company April 1. Neumann lost his CEO title after WeWork's IPO plans went south last year, and the company has already filed suit on its own behalf. Both companies are struggling due to coronavirus: WeWork has undergone layoffs as its buildings empty, while SoftBank is forecast to lose $8.4 billion — much of that due to the WeWork deal.

    Find out about Mexico's female-only coworking spaces.

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    How COVID-19 Threatens Grandfamilies

    The coronavirus notoriously preys on senior citizens most fiercely, making physical distancing a must. But in the U.S., the percentage of grandparents living with their grandkids has more than doubled in the last 20 years, OZY reports. That puts about 1 in 10 senior citizens at risk from their own young housemates — and can be especially difficult for the grandparents raising their grandchildren, who must struggle to avoid illness while creating contingency plans for their young relatives in case of disaster.

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    Whitehead Wins Second Pulitzer for Fiction

    Welcome to the gang of four. Colson Whitehead just became the fourth novelist ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction twice, with The Nickel Boys, a novel about abuse in a Jim Crow era reform school. He previously won for The Underground Railroad in 2017. Other Pulitzer winners this year include Anthony Davis' opera The Central Park Five and Jericho Brown's poetry collection The Tradition. Pioneering investigative journalist Ida B. Wells, born into slavery in 1862, got a special posthumous citation.

    Check out OZY's own investigations unit.

  5. Live Baseball Restarts ... in Korea

    Play ball! Sports-starved American fans may lose some sleep, but ESPN's teamed up with the Korea Baseball Organization to air six live games a week — and today's opening day, so it's time to pick your team. The Kiwoom Heroes top ESPN's power rankings, but if you'd rather cheer for an underdog, the Hanwha Eagles close out the list. Or you could make a total departure and root for the SK Wyverns, named for bipedal dragons. After a five-week delay to start the season, the KBO's empty-stands approach could offer a clue to MLB's way back, expected as early as June.