The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Special Counsel Concludes Presidential Probe

    Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. elections and possible collusion by President Donald Trump’s campaign and subsequent allegations of obstruction of justice, has concluded his work and has submitted his findings to the Justice Department. The final conclusions reportedly don’t urge indictments beyond those filed against 36 people, including 13 alleged Russian troll farm operatives and six former Trump aides.

    When will its contents be revealed? Control over what, if anything, is made public rests with Attorney General William Barr, who has reportedly told Congressional leaders he will brief them in a few days.

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    EU Approves Brief Brexit Extension

    Although European Union leaders agreed yesterday to extend the March 29 deadline for Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc, it’s not quite what Prime Minister Theresa May might have been hoping for: The U.K. will have until May 22 — not June 30 — to leave, but only if lawmakers approve her divorce deal in the next two weeks. If they once again vote it down, Britain must leave on April 12.

    Will anything stop the process now? Despite a “cancel Brexit” petition that’s picked up more than 2.8 million signatures since Wednesday, repeatedly crashing the government’s site, May is standing firm.

    Don’t miss OZY’s Special Briefing on the latest Brexit drama.

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    Trump Backs Israel’s Claim to Golan Heights

    “Thank you President Trump!” That’s how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to President Donald Trump’s abrupt tweet yesterday that Washington would officially accept Tel Aviv’s claim to sovereignty over the disputed territory — becoming the first country to do so. Most of the international community believes the status of the Golan Heights should be hashed out during negotiations between Israel and Syria.

    What could this lead to? While it provides a crucial boost for Netanyahu ahead of next month’s elections, experts say it’s likely to exacerbate regional tensions.

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    China Factory Blast Kills 47, Injures Hundreds

    The death toll in an overnight explosion at a chemical plant in China’s coastal Jiangsu Province is expected to climb, since at least 30 of the 640 injured sustained critical injuries. The plant, which manufactures highly flammable organic compounds, had previously been cited for violations. Company executives have been taken into police custody.

    What’s the bigger picture? While authorities have promised a swift response, it’s unclear whether it’ll soothe growing public anger over subpar industrial safety standards.

    Read OZY’s Flashback about the dam collapse China kept secret for years.

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    Reports: Uber, Pinterest Eye NYSE for IPOs

    The ride-hailing app and social media platform are both reportedly considering selling their shares on the New York Stock Exchange after completing their initial public offerings this year. Uber’s valuation — likely the biggest in a year packed with Silicon Valley IPOs — could reach $120 billion, while Pinterest was last valued at around $12 billion. Both are expected to go public next month.

    Why the NYSE? It appears to have become the go-to exchange for tech companies after Facebook’s bungled IPO on the Nasdaq several years ago.

  6. Also Important…

    North Korea has withdrawn from a joint DMZ liaison office after the U.S. introduced sanctions against two Chinese firms for doing business with Pyongyang. Two U.S. service members were killed in Afghanistan today, bringing the 2019 total to at least four. And New Zealand observed two minutes of silence today to honor the victims of last week’s Christchurch mosque shootings.

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

    Listen Up! Get inside the minds of Lorena Bobbitt, James Holmes and John Hinckley — and explore the history of the insanity defense — with Season 4 of The Thread, the latest installment of OZY’s popular podcast. Subscribe now on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.


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    Wikipedia Goes Dark in Europe Amid Protest

    Versions of the site in German, Danish, Czech and Slovak went offline all day yesterday to protest the proposed EU Copyright Directive, a law that would force platforms to scan all uploaded content to identify copyrighted materials. Critics say that’s an undue burden, and more than 5 million Europeans have signed a petition against the new law.

    Will it work? As activists across Europe plan “Save the Internet” demonstrations for tomorrow, they might be encouraged by the fact that past outage protests in the U.S. have succeeded.

    Check out OZY’s Special Briefing on the EU’s new internet privacy laws.

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    Mount Everest’s Melting Glaciers Are Exposing Bodies

    Thanks to climate change, high-altitude warming has been so significant that climbers are seeing more grisly evidence of their peers who have perished on the mountain. Of the nearly 300 climbers who’ve died on Everest since the first ascent, the bodies of some two-thirds are thought to be entombed underneath layers of snow and ice.

    What’s being done to retrieve remains? Chinese authorities are beginning to remove them from their side — but in neighboring Nepal, retrieval requires government involvement and can cost up to $80,000 per expedition.

    Read this OZY story about why ice climbing is hitting its peak.

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    Netflix Tests Mobile-Only Subscriptions in India

    The streaming service is testing a new plan at half the price of its lowest subscription package, around $7 per month, that lets users view standard definition content on a single mobile or tablet screen. Netflix, which is still pricier than its local competitors in India, has also experimented with cheaper mobile packages in Malaysia and other countries.

    How does this benefit Netflix? Boosting its user base in India means potentially snagging a significant chunk of future international subscribers — who made up nearly 60 percent of the streaming service’s paid users in 2018.

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    Is This the Next Veganism for Millennials?

    Followers of a new diet especially popular among millennials will no longer need to choose between meat and vegetables, OZY reports. Claiming to foster weight loss, reduce inflammation and balance blood sugar, a “pegan” diet — combining paleo and vegan elements — is predominantly plant-based, with meat accounting for a quarter of a person’s daily intake. Peganism also emphasizes heart-healthy fats, but discourages dairy products, wheat and beans.

    What’s driving this food fad? Besides endorsements from high-profile figures, some experts say social media enhances the “guilt culture around food” and compels people to try radical new diets.

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    Baseball Legend Ichiro Suzuki Retires in Japan

    The Seattle Mariners superstar announced his retirement at the Tokyo Dome yesterday following a victory over the Oakland As. The 45-year-old outfielder, who spent the first decade of his career in Japan, said he’d “achieved so many of my dreams in baseball” in his 27 years playing. Ichiro, a 10-time All-Star who holds the world record for 4,367 professional hits, was honored with a lengthy standing ovation as he walked from the field in his final game.

    What’s his legacy? Ichiro’s success helped lay the foundation for a slew of Japanese sluggers that made their way to Major League Baseball.

    Read OZY’s story about how a poor kid from Texas courted stardom in Japan.