The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Whistleblower: America Faces ‘Darkest Winter’

    Formerly a senior official in the Health and Human Services Department, Rick Bright has become a whistleblower — and yesterday he testified to the House of Representatives that if the U.S. doesn't improve its pandemic response, it faces the "darkest winter in modern history." The co-owner of a surgical mask company also testified that the government turned down its offer to make millions of masks in January. More than 85,000 Americans have died, and Bright, whom President Donald Trump dismissed as a "disgruntled employee," says the administration still lacks a comprehensive plan for dealing with the crisis.

  2. CDC Offers Scant Guidance for Reopening

    As states struggle to decide when and how to reopen during the pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been of limited use. Its initial guidance was shelved completely by the White House, which said its recommendations were "too specific," so yesterday it released just six pages of general guidelines for businesses and schools. The CDC has promised more will be forthcoming, but public health experts worry there's not enough transparency and certainly not enough testing — which President Trump recently dismissed as "overrated" — for states to get back on their feet.

    Read all OZY’s coronavirus coverage here.

  3. Senator to Step Aside Amid FBI Stock Probe

    After the FBI seized his phone and searched his cloud storage accounts, Sen. Richard Burr announced that he'll ditch his high-profile post as head of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The North Carolina Republican is suspected of using insider knowledge to dump as much as $1.7 million in stock right before the coronavirus-spurred market tumble. Burr says he only relied on public information for his trades, but will still leave the committee as it continues its investigation into 2016 Russian election interference and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has yet to choose Burr's replacement.

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    China Kickstarts Post-Virus Recovery

    They're hardly back on their feet. China's industrial production fell 13.5 percent in the first two months of 2020 as the virus rampaged through the country — but April brought some positive news, as production rebounded by 3.9 percent. It's a start, but one that could potentially be derailed by the ever frostier relations between China and the U.S. as President Trump has repeatedly blamed China for the virus, which has killed more than 300,000 people worldwide. Meanwhile, Beijing is widely expected to release stronger stimulus programs next week.

    Read OZY's analysis of China's role in the U.S. presidential race.

  5. Also Important...

    With graduations canceled, all the major U.S. TV networks will be broadcasting Graduate Together Saturday evening, a mass commencement event in which former President Barack Obama, Malala Yousafzai, the Jonas Brothers and others will deliver messages to the millions of seniors missing out on walking the stage. India's farmers have grown a record wheat crop but with markets closed are struggling to sell it. And a Hong Kong ice cream shop has debuted its new flavor: tear gas.

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

    Connect the dots! How might an invention that began as a way to dehumidify the printing process in the early 20th century influence the 2020 U.S. election? Discover the intriguing link between air conditioning and American politics in episode three of OZY's brand-new history podcast, Flashbacknow the No. 3 history show on the Apple podcast charts! Listen and subscribe to Flashback — and then leave us a review — by clicking here.


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    Report: Alaska in Danger of Massive Tsunami

    As the Barry Glacier recedes due to climate change, scientists say the risk increases of a huge landslide about 60 miles east of Anchorage. That in turn could trigger a 1,000-foot wave in Prince William Sound, according to a public letter signed by a group of scientists including Alaska's top geologist. The timeline is uncertain — it could happen within a year, the letter says, or within the next 20. But the mayor of nearby Whittier, which would be in the path of a 30-foot wave from the tsunami, says it's not dangerous enough to evacuate the town quite yet.

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    Unemployment Hits 40% of Low-Income Homes

    While the virus-induced recession has hit everyone in America — 20 percent of people who were working in February were unemployed by April — it's hit the country's poor much harder. Among those making less than $40,000, 39 percent lost their jobs, compared to just 13 percent of people making upwards of $100,000. Still, 91 percent of those laid off or furloughed said they eventually expect to return to the same employer, a sign of optimism despite the crash.

    Read OZY's ideas for spending your government stimulus check.

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    Pandemic-Era Union Busters May Regret It

    Countries and employers across the globe have been dinged for treating workers poorly since the pandemic hit — whether it's Amazon firing those agitating for better protections or Uttar Pradesh exempting businesses from labor laws for the next three years. But, OZY reports, that might not lead where union-busting employers are hoping: In fact, the 1930s and the Great Depression saw the quashing of worker rights, and it led to hugely increased union membership in some countries — and a disenchantment with capitalism in others.

  4. 'Frozen' Musical Won't Reopen on Broadway

    They decided to let it go. The Disney stage musical closed in mid-March along with the rest of Broadway, but producers have announced they'll cut their losses and won't reopen after the lockdown, making it the first musical casualty of the pandemic. Costumes and sets will be repurposed for planned national tours and international productions. This isn't a good sign for Broadway, shut until at least Labor Day, since Disney's pockets are deeper than those of most other producers. Industry insiders are bracing for more closings as some predict the Great White Way will be dark until next year.

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    Rays Pitcher: I Won't Play on Reduced Salary

    “Bro, I’m risking my life.” So said Tampa Bay leftie Blake Snell, who vocally rejected MLB's proposal that players and owners split revenue 50-50 this year. The league's reopening plan proposes an 82-game season, likely without fans in the seats, which would come with dramatically reduced revenue. But the Cy Young winner said his risk of catching the virus and spreading it to loved ones is "through the roof." Such sentiments might be contagious among MLB players and other athletes asked to give up part of their compensation.

    Read OZY on the history of the spitball.