The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. ukraine elections shutterstock 1335357425

    War-Weary Ukraine Laughs, Cries Through Elections

    Polls indicate that Ukrainians favor comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who becomes president in his TV series, although not enough for him to win today’s first round of presidential elections. He’s among 38 challengers to incumbent Petro Poroshenko, who’s polling similarly to ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in the race for runner-up and a spot in the April 21 runoff.

    What’s at stake? Zelenskiy promises to fight corruption, and like Poroshenko, to strengthen European Union bonds and confront Russia’s Crimea annexation and support for separatists fighting in the eastern Donbas region.

    Don’t miss today’s election analysis by OZY’s man in Kiev.

  2. congress

    ‘The Resistance’ Hits a Snag

    It’s 300-plus pages — but so far, the world’s only seen a four-page summary. That quick read on special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, written by Attorney General William Barr, was delivered to Congress last Sunday. It elicited President Donald Trump’s gleeful repetition of “collusion delusion” at a Friday campaign rally in Michigan: “After three years of lies, smears and slander, the Russia hoax is finally dead.”

    Is it, really? While Democrats are demanding to see the full document, Which Barr has promised by mid-April, party leadership would rather focus on issues like Trump’s new move to end Obamacare.

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    May Considers Fourth Brexit Vote

    Things are “going in the right direction.” That’s one insider’s assessment of the prime minister mulling a fourth vote on her plan to leave the European Union. It was defeated by 53 votes on Friday — much better than the 149 two weeks earlier. Meanwhile, thousands of pro-Brexit demonstrators blocked London traffic and clashed with police.

    Where does this go from here? If May opts for yet another vote, it will have to come after satisfying rebel MPs with votes on alternatives, such as initiating a new referendum or remaining in the European customs union.

    Read OZY’s story on Brexit-era migration.

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    NATO to Mark 70 Years on Shaky Ground

    The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, celebrated for providing an anti-Soviet Cold War bulwark, will observe its 70th anniversary in Washington next week. That will put its general secretary, Jens Stoltenberg, face to face with President Donald Trump, whom one former U.S. general accused of “kicking the most important allies in the ass publicly” with snubs such as refusing to reaffirm the alliance’s pledge to aid members if attacked.

    What else could go wrong? Key NATO member Turkey is set to purchase a defensive missile system from Russia, which has prompted U.S. senators to propose blocking Ankara’s U.S. warplane deliveries.

  5. north korea china border shutterstock 732282361

    The ‘Underground Railroad’ Is the Last Hope in North Korea

    They’ll pay dearly to leave their workers’ paradise. Still, hundreds of North Koreans risk a complicated web of activists and private brokers into and through China to escape. Refugees endure days of ferrying between safe houses, hiking through forests and even sexual slavery in hopes of claiming asylum at a South Korean embassy. Anything less than success is a gulag sentence.

    How long can it last? Rates of refugees safely arriving in South Korea are plummeting with neighboring China helping the Pyongyang crackdown.

    OZY asks if North Korea can ever change.

  6. Also Important…

    A federal judge in Alaska has invalidated President Trump’s order to lift Obama-era oil drilling prohibitions in Arctic and Atlantic waters. Investigators of a second deadly Boeing 737 Max 8 crash now believe that the troublesome anti-stall system was engaged before the plane crashed in Ethiopia on March 10. A private investigator hired by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says he’s confident that Saudi Arabia hacked the billionaire’s phone to reveal embarrassing texts. And President Trump has threatened to close the U.S.-Mexico border if Mexican authorities don’t curb northbound migration.

    In the week ahead: Tuesday is Equal Pay Day, symbolically the day that the average American woman worker earns as much in the previous 15 months as her male counterparts made in 12. On Wednesday, actors Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman appear in Boston federal court facing mail fraud conspiracy charges in a vast college admissions-rigging scandal. And on Thursday, foreign ministers of G-7 nations will meet in France.

    Listen Up! Get inside the mind of a would-be assassin — 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.


  1. Interior view of hotel room with shower showing through

    Airbnb Is Sorry About Those Hidden Cameras

    When Max Vest discovered a hidden camera in his Florida Airbnb rental, the company provided a refund and a hotel room. But Vest and others who’ve reported personal surveillance say the firm has failed to uphold privacy assurances. Some report company reps telling them they had “consented” to being watched because cameras were visible in listing photos.

    What’s happened to snooping hosts? Those in the complaints have been banned, and police are investigating Vest’s case. But state law allows people to film within their own homes, and so does Airbnb, if it’s disclosed and not in bathrooms or sleeping areas.

  2. orkney

    The Islands That Run on Hydrogen

    The tiny island of Eday had a problem: Using wind and tidal turbines, it generated more clean energy than it could use. So now they strip hydrogen from water with that power, enough to run a fleet of vans for their fellow Orkney islanders and, in two years, a radically new hydrogen-powered ferry.

    What are the larger implications? Besides refocusing the islands from dependence on the North Sea oil industry, these pioneers can show the world how green energy can be stored rather than wasted when grids can’t take it.

    Read OZY’s feature on why Australia is crazy about electric cars.

  3. millennial voters shutterstock 342696611

    Buzz, Not Ads, Will Fire Up 2020 Voters

    The blue wave into Congress last year wasn’t cheap. An estimated $4.7 billion was spent on advertising, but it probably didn’t change many minds. American voters are far more influenced by word of mouth — aka “buzz” — than traditional media. The research is even starker for millennials, just 28 percent of whom rank news coverage among their top three voting influences.   

    What should candidates do? Observe the four R’s: Be relevant, reasonable, repeatable and, most important, remarkable. If potential voters can’t stop talking about certain candidates, they’ll be thinking about them in the voting booth.

  4. Fan Bingbing-shutterstock 672516169

    She’s the Famous Poster Child for Beijing’s Crackdown

    Fan Bingbing is the world’s most popular star, considering China’s massive market. She’s also the daughter of Communist Party stalwarts, making her the perfect example for scaring those guilty of widespread tax evasion. Fan vanished during three months of detention, emerging in October contrite and ready to pay the first millions of the $1.7 billion Beijing says it’s collected since from industry professionals.

    Does this go beyond film? In targeting China’s best-known face, observers say, the government is preparing to compel other industries to “self-audit” — if they don’t want to disappear.

  5. ncaa tournament arena shutterstock 1169905

    It’s Gonzaga’s Turn to Be Knocked Out By a Cinderella Team

    Gonzaga University wasn’t always a blue blood. In 1999, the Spokane, Washington, team seemed a charmed mid-major, barely losing to the eventual champs. Despite losing their coach, replacement Mark Few has led them to every March Madness since.

    How do they look now? Primed to win their first championship with the NCAA’s best offense, the Zags fell Saturday, 75-69, to a new Cinderella team: Texas Tech. The Red Raiders, with college ball’s best defense, will go to the Final Four for the first time in the program’s 94-year history.