The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Jeff Bezos Blasts National Enquirer for ‘Blackmail’

    In a blog post yesterday, the Amazon founder accused publisher David Pecker of extortion and blackmail. After the tabloid disclosed Bezos’ extramarital affair, the world’s richest man hired investigators to probe whether the exposé was politically motivated. Bezos posted an alleged email from the National Enquirer threatening to release explicit personal photographs if the Washington Post owner didn’t stop digging.

    Does it get political? Pecker is a confidant of President Donald Trump, who has derided the Post’s coverage of his presidency, while Bezos believes his newspaper’s critical reporting on Saudi Arabia “hit a particularly sensitive nerve.”

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    Thai Princess Makes History With PM Bid

    Shirking longstanding tradition, the Thai Raksa Chart Party has nominated Princess Ubolratana Mahidol, King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s oldest sister, ahead of next month’s elections. The March 24 vote will be the kingdom’s first since 2014, following the military overthrow of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

    What does Ubolratana’s candidacy mean? With what experts call a game-changing bid, the 67-year-old MIT and UCLA grad is challenging Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and the deeply royalist military’s hold on power.

    Don’t miss OZY’s Flashback about when Thailand undermined its monarchy.

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    Supreme Court Blocks Louisiana Abortion Law

    With Chief Justice John Roberts aligning with the court’s liberal wing yesterday, justices ruled 5-4 in a temporary stay against a 2014 state law requiring abortion specialists to have hospital admitting privileges. Critics say the law severely restricts access to abortion in Louisiana, where only three clinics remain open. The court will issue a final decision at a later date.

    What’s the political significance of the ruling? It highlights the newly strategic position for Roberts — who openly disputed President Trump’s claim that federal judges are biased against conservatives — following Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement last year.

    Don’t miss OZY’s Donald Dossier about Trump’s stance on abortion.

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    US Aid Arrives at Venezuelan Border

    The standoff over humanitarian aid to the crisis-stricken Latin American country will likely intensify after cargo trucks carrying food and other goods — escorted by Colombian police — arrived in the border city of Cucuta. But they’ll stay there: Claiming aid deliveries are a cover for a military invasion, embattled President Nicolás Maduro dispatched a tanker, shipping containers and troops ahead of the convoy’s arrival to block its entrance into Venezuela.

    How long will Maduro last? Despite growing international recognition of his rival, National Assembly President Juan Guaidó, observers say Maduro’s military might is underestimated, while the opposition has “no credible Plan B.”

  5. Also Important…

    According to a New York Times report, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman once told an aide he’d use “a bullet” on dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered last year. Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker will testify before the House Judiciary Committee today about his oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. And the International Paralympic Committee has lifted its suspension against Russia for doping.

    #OZYfact: Indonesia is the most generous country in the world, with 78 percent of the population saying they donated money last year. Read more on OZY.

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


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    Gucci Under Fire for ‘Blackface’ Sweater

    The luxury brand is facing fierce rebukes over a $890 balaclava-style black sweater with a cutout mouth and exaggerated red lips, which critics claim looks just like offensive blackface makeup. The brand has apologized and removed the item from its inventory.

    Is this an industry trend? Prada, Dolce & Gabbana and Moschino have all been called out for similar missteps recently, leading some to threaten boycotts unless more people of color are hired to help prevent racial insensitivity.

    Read this OZY profile of the model rooting out racism in fashion.

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    Apple Rewards 14-Year-Old Who Found FaceTime Glitch

    The tech giant is providing Grant Thompson of Tucson, Arizona, an undisclosed amount — as well as help financing his education — after he showed his mom a security flaw in FaceTime that allowed callers to eavesdrop. Apple released an update Thursday to fix the bug, but it still faces lawsuits over the incident.

    Is bug hunting good business? The company began offering bounties of up to $200,000 for finding flaws in its iOS system three years ago, though some have found that selling their discoveries elsewhere can be even more lucrative.

    Check out OZY’s feature on the fight between hackers and local governments.

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    Real-Time Diagnostics Are Curing Hypochondriacs’ Concerns

    A growing number of researchers are betting on faster and more accurate diagnostic tools to help stamp out medical anxieties. So far, OZY reports, innovations include brain scans aided by Google’s DeepMind artificial intelligence, genetic tests that personalize breast cancer treatments, and wearable sensors that monitor health in real time. The new tech can’t come fast enough: Between 1 and 5 percent of the population suffer from health anxiety.

    How else can it help? Beyond offering peace of mind, more accurate diagnoses could prevent unnecessary, potentially damaging treatments like chemotherapy and antibiotics.

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    Jack White Wins Plagiarism Settlement

    The White Stripes rocker will receive a writing credit on the Eurovision Song Contest-winning tune Toy performed by Israeli singer Netta Barzilai. The dispute arose after White’s label, Universal Music Group, claimed parts of the tune sounded too much like the White Stripes’ No.1 hit Seven Nation Army — though some assert that song was itself a rip-off of Austrian composer Anton Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony.

    How are plagiarism allegations usually handled? Given the fine line between inspiration and theft, most high-profile cases over intellectual property disputes are settled outside court.

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    Baseball Legend Frank Robinson Dies at 83

    The Hall of Famer and 13-time All-Star passed away Thursday at his home in California. A prodigious slugger, Robinson ranks 10th of all time with 586 homers and remains the only player to win MVP awards in both leagues. In 1975 he became Major League Baseball’s first African-American manager with the Cleveland Indians and went on to manage the Giants, Orioles, Expos and Nationals. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.

    Who followed in his footsteps? Robinson was outspoken on civil rights issues as an NAACP activist, and his success in the back office opened the field for other Black managers like Dusty Baker and Dave Roberts.

    Don’t miss this OZY Flashback on the power of baseball’s forgotten star.