The Presidential Daily Brief


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    White House to Disband Virus Task Force

    With daily coronavirus deaths in the U.S. exceeding 1,000 and expected to triple by June, the Trump administration is considering disbanding its virus response committee and replacing it with a new advisory body. President Donald Trump, touring an Arizona mask manufacturing plant without wearing a mask, emphasized that reopening the economy is his priority, even as a new poll found that 78 percent of Americans would be uncomfortable eating in a restaurant right now. The task force could be disbanded by the end of the month, when responsibility will shift back to individual federal agencies.

  2. Trump Administration Accused of Cronyism

    Vaccine specialist Rick Bright led a research division within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services until last month — when he says he was ousted as revenge for openly criticizing malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment. While the Trump administration promoted the drug, research has found it could be dangerous for COVID-19 patients. In an 89-page official whistleblower complaint, Bright now says the administration steered profitable drug contracts toward companies with political connections. HHS has disputed Bright's version of events.

    To read all OZY's coronavirus coverage, click here.

  3. Video of Georgia Killing Sparks New Inquiry

    In February, Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was jogging in Brunswick, Georgia, when he was killed by a father and son who said they thought he was a burglar and claimed he attacked them. But new video footage posted to social media shows Gregory and Travis McMichael chasing and shooting the unarmed Arbery. While prosecutors previously argued there wasn't enough evidence to arrest the McMichaels, a local district attorney now says he'll ask a grand jury to decide whether to press charges — though that may not happen until June, due to pandemic restrictions.

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    Airbnb Struggles Despite Travel Rebound

    Airbnb has announced it'll cut a quarter of its workforce in response to the upheaval coronavirus has caused in the travel industry. Projections indicate the company's revenue this year will be just half of its 2019 total of $4.8 billion. Still, bright spots are appearing: Domestic bookings in Denmark and the Netherlands are approaching last year's levels as it appears people are beginning to make vacation plans again despite the lack of a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19. International travel will likely continue to be hampered by closed borders, with few indications of when restrictions will lift.

  5. Also Important...

    Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is in the hospital after a gallbladder treatment, but plans to work remotely today. A broadcasting network in the Philippines that's criticized President Rodrigo Duterte has been forced off the air. And Elon Musk and singer Grimes have welcomed a baby boy and named him X Æ A-12 Musk.

    Coronavirus update: A newly filed lawsuit claims that American children of undocumented parents have been unfairly denied coronavirus relief payments.

    Tune in: School may be out, but Professor Braswell's class is still in session. Host of Webby-nominated The Thread, OZY's Sean Braswell is back with Flashback, a brand-new podcast featuring stories of history's craziest unintended consequences that the textbooks never told you about. Season one launched today with two new episodes! Be sure to listen, subscribe, rate and review. Subscribe now to Flashback wherever you listen to podcasts.


  1. UK Virus Expert Resigns for Breaking Lockdown

    He had to put his affair in order. Neil Ferguson, the epidemiologist whose models suggesting coronavirus could kill 250,000 people just in the U.K. helped spur the country's lockdown, has resigned from a governmental science advisory group after he was caught breaking social distancing rules with the married woman with whom he was having a relationship. "I acted in the belief that I was immune," he said, having already recovered from COVID-19. Ferguson apologized and said he regrets "undermining" the British government's current rules about social distancing.

    Read OZY's dossier on the inherent privilege of social distancing.

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    Amid Meat Shortage, Veggie Burgers Thrive

    This could beef up their market share. With a coronavirus-caused meat shortage so severe that some Wendy's restaurants have taken beef off their menus entirely, plant-based alternatives like Beyond Burger are experiencing a surge. The company saw its first quarter sales more than double, and shares rose 5 percent at the news. Now Beyond says it plans to drop prices this summer, hoping to lure in meat-starved customers and get its alternative product on grills while it's hot.

    Read OZY's profile of the woman behind the alt-meat market.

  3. Open Source, Once Fringe, Goes Mainstream

    They're code-switching. Open source, once known as part of the free culture movement, was criticized as "communist" by corporate interests for its rallying cry that software shouldn't be reserved for those who could pay for it. But now, OZY reports, it's been seamlessly incorporated even into the infrastructure of giants like Microsoft, with cloud products and modern software largely built on open source code. Oh, and it could even save lives: Pfizer is using an open source platform to share research in the race for a COVID-19 vaccine.

  4. Tom Cruise to Film First Movie in Space

    We're over the moon about this. NASA has announced plans for the first movie shot in space, starring Tom Cruise. No details about the plot are available yet other than it'll be set on the International Space Station, but Cruise, 57, is known for performing his own stunts. While there are rumors that Elon Musk's SpaceX will be involved, NASA — which says the film will help inspire a new generation of scientists — hasn't confirmed that. SpaceX plans to fly astronauts to the ISS for the first time later this month.

    Check out OZY's deep dive into the first planned space blockbuster.

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    Dolphins Unveil Plan to Keep Fans at Games

    No more punting. While the NFL schedule won't be released until Thursday, the Miami Dolphins have charged ahead with a plan that expects fans to keep coming to live games. It includes mandatory masks, staggered arrival times and a new food ordering system to eliminate waiting in line. It would also see the 65,000-capacity Hard Rock Stadium hosting just 15,000 people. The plan still might not work, though, given a recent poll found 72 percent of sports fans say they won't go to a live event until there's a vaccine. NFL games are currently expected to resume Sept. 10.