The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Criticism Mounts Over Barr’s Mueller Summary

    Attorney General William Barr is facing growing concerns that his four-page description of special counsel Robert Mueller’s 400-page Russia report may have obscured key findings. Sources say Mueller team members are unsatisfied with Barr’s summary, which partially exonerated President Donald Trump, while protesters in several dozen U.S. cities demanded the release of the full report. Yesterday, Barr defended his decision to release the “bottom-line findings” first.

    Why the delay? Justice Department officials claim Mueller’s report — and his team’s summaries — included grand jury information that complicated a quick release.

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    Could Brexit Be Delayed by a Year?

    British Prime Minister Theresa May formally asked the EU today for an extension until June 30 in order to finally secure a deal for her country’s withdrawal from the bloc. Her request coincided with reports that European Council President Donald Tusk has floated a one-year “flextension,” which could be shortened if British lawmakers hash out an exit plan before then.

    Who’s on board? Tusk’s idea doesn’t seem popular in either London or Brussels: Brexiteers fear being shackled to the EU for a longer period, while European officials are tired of being party to the U.K.’s crisis.

    OZY asks: Will Germany become Europe’s only powerhouse?

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    NZ Mosque Attack Suspect to Face Mental Health Tests

    A New Zealand judge on Friday ordered that the 28-year-old Australian man accused of killing dozens of people at two Christchurch mosques last month undergo two mental health checks to gauge his fitness for trial. Charged with 50 murders and 39 attempted murders, he appeared in court through a video link but was unable to see shooting survivors and victims’ relatives in the public gallery. He’s due in court again June 14.

    What about gun control? A bill tightening regulations and banning the kind of weapons used in the Christchurch attacks is expected to become law next week.

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    Trump Cautious About US-China Trade Deal

    “We’ll see what happens.” So said President Trump yesterday after meeting with the head of China’s trade delegation. Although he claimed a deal between Beijing and Washington is just weeks away, Trump did not yet announce a summit with his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping — despite hopes that the two would strike a deal by the end of the month, as originally planned.

    What’s the major sticking point? American officials are still debating whether to use tariffs as an enforcement tool.

    Read this OZY feature about China’s ‘cobot’ revolution.

  5. Also Important…

    Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has agreed to a $35 billion divorce settlement that will make ex-wife MacKenzie Bezos the world’s third-richest woman. At least 32 troops are dead as a Taliban siege on Afghan government troops entered it second day. And former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to make his first public appearance today since several women accused him of inappropriate contact.

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

    We’re hiring! OZY’s looking for an ambitious and creative podcast producer. Could this be you? Check out the job description for more details … and find all our open jobs right here.


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    Has Finland Cracked Universal Basic Income?

    New results of an ambitious social welfare experiment in Finland are promising: The Nordic nation’s economic research institute reports that citizens receiving universal basic income — instead of bureaucratically cumbersome unemployment — saw significant psychological benefits. Recipients reported feeling healthier and less stressed, and a survey showed they placed more trust in politicians, police, courts and their fellow citizens.

    Can the idea catch on? Campaigners in the English city of Sheffield hope to test a similar system, and the concept’s also being championed by long-shot U.S. presidential hopeful Andrew Yang.

    Check out this OZY story about an alternative to universal basic income.

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    Amazon Will Launch Broadband Satellites

    The sky’s no limit. In federal filings uncovered yesterday, the e-commerce giant laid out plans to deploy 3,236 low-orbit satellites that would provide data coverage over an area holding 95 percent of the world’s population. No timeline was given for Project Kuiper, but by 2021, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture is set to launch an orbital-class rocket.

    Is there a broadband space race? Amazon will vie with Elon Musk’s Starlink network, which last year launched the first two test satellites of a potential network of 12,000 that would provide speedy space-based internet access.

    Read OZY’s feature on whether “click and collect” could challenge Amazon.

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    South Africans Are Bonding With Savings Clubs

    Nearly half of South Africans belong to some version of a shared savings group, OZY reports, making monthly deposits into a pool dedicated for large purchases or major expenses like burials. Stokvels, named after 19th-century fairs where Xhosa tribespeople pooled resources to trade livestock with British settlers, are founded on mutual trust. Community pressure means deadbeats are rare, and with short-term lending tightly regulated, these clubs are positioned to offer quick loans.

    Do they solve retirement woes? Stokvels focus on short-term savings, but more South Africans are taking out annuities than ever before.

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    Saudi Arabia to Invest $35 Billion in Movie Theaters

    The show must go on. Just one year after lifting a 35-year ban on movies, the kingdom now plans to spend big on multiplex cinemas by 2020, aiming to build 2,500 new screens over the next five years. Saudi media authorities announced the initiative Thursday — despite several entertainment companies abandoning the country over the October murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    Who’s going to build the theaters? America’s AMC Entertainment announced that it’ll join the effort, as well as participate in a cinema development forum in Riyadh this month along with firms from 20 nations.

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    Women Court Glory in NCAA Final Four

    Tonight one of this season’s most anticipated matchups in women’s college basketball pits the Oregon Ducks, newbies to the championship tournament, and the Baylor Lady Bears in Tampa, Florida. They’ve got different styles of play: While Baylor boasts a high-low strategy, Oregon’s offensive speed and proclivity for 3-pointers has earned comparisons to the Golden State Warriors. Finals veterans UConn and Notre Dame also face off later tonight for the other spot in Sunday’s championship game.

    What’s new? At a time when TV ratings for women’s basketball are rising, the Ducks’ Final Four appearance brings a fresh dose of excitement.

    Read OZY’s profile of the woman training the next generation of refs.