The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Scientists Release First Image of Black Hole

    “Science fiction has become science fact.” So said one researcher who helped capture the world’s first-ever photo of a black hole, published today in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. A global network of eight telescopes photographed the light-sucking, malevolent marvel of nature some six billion times more massive than the sun and located in a galaxy more than 50 million light years away.

    What is a black hole, anyway? First theorized by Albert Einstein more than a century ago, they’re densely-packed clusters of energy with a gravitational pull so strong that even light can’t escape — which is why they remain so mysterious to scientists.

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    Netanyahu’s Challenger Concedes Israeli Election

    Preliminary results from Israel’s parliamentary elections suggest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is headed for a fifth overall term — poised to surpass David Ben Gurion as the country’s longest-serving leader. While his Likud party was tied with that of centrist challenger Benny Gantz, nearly every right-wing party said it would throw its support behind the 69-year-old Netanyahu, despite the allegations of corruption that dogged his campaign.

    Can Bibi rest easy? Not quite: The impressive performance by Gantz, an ex-military chief who today conceded the tight race, suggests the prime minister faces a formidable future threat.

    Read OZY’s story on how the Israel debate shapes U.S. 2020 contenders.

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    Anticipation Builds Over Barr’s Release of Mueller Report

    On Capitol Hill yesterday, Attorney General William Barr said he’ll likely release special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report — with color-coded redactions — “within a week.” Today he’ll speak to a Senate subcommittee about his department’s budget, though his handling of Mueller’s 400-page report will probably again draw more attention. Meanwhile, Mueller team members reportedly believe their work has been misinterpreted as President Donald Trump has claimed “total EXONERATION.”

    Will it ever end? Barr said the Justice Department is also reviewing how Mueller’s probe made use of surveillance, pledging results by June at the latest.

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    EU Expected to Offer Brexit Delay

    Although British Prime Minister Theresa May will probably get her wish for a Brexit extension at an EU summit today, it won’t be exactly what she had in mind. Brussels will reportedly insist that the U.K. hang on for another year or so, well beyond the June 30 delay May wants. But with little parliamentary agreement on a divorce deal back home, she may have no other choice but to abide by the bloc’s demand.

    Who needs to sign on? Every single member state — and if they fail to approve an extension, Britain comes crashing out of the EU, sans deal, on Friday.

    Check out OZY’s Special Briefing on the future of Europe.

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    Reports: Uber to Raise $10B in IPO

    The ride-hailing giant will reportedly sell around $10 billion worth of company stock when it goes public in several weeks. Setting a valuation of up to $100 billion, Uber’s initial public offering — which it’s expected to announce tomorrow — would be one of the biggest tech IPOs ever. It’ll reportedly list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange May 9.

    Is the road ahead smooth? During an IPO tour that kicks off April 29, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will need to prove to investors that he’s tackled Uber’s problematic culture, which has included allegations of sexual harassment.

  6. Also Important…

    New Zealand’s Parliament has passed legislation by a vote of 119-1 banning most semi-automatic weapons. Human rights watchdog Amnesty International says executions around the world fell by nearly one-third last year to the lowest point in a decade. And the Dalai Lama has been hospitalized with a chest infection, but remains in stable condition.

    #OZYfact: Twenty-one percent of American millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year — more than three times the number for non-millennials. Read more on OZY.

    Vote for us! OZY’s been nominated for two Webby Awards this year — and we’d love your help to win. Go to and cast your vote for The Thread for best podcast miniseries, as well as Unapologetic for best social content series. But hurry! Voting ends April 18.


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    Facebook Will Allow Dead People’s Accounts to Live On

    The social media giant announced yesterday that it will allow a “legacy contact” to exercise more control over the account of a dead person, including overseeing a new “Tributes” section. Before a legacy contact can assume control of an account, Facebook must verify the death and will allow only that designated friend or family member to request that an account be memorialized.

    Will this catch on? It may — especially considering some 30 million users already check out memorialized accounts each month.

    Read this OZY opinion piece asking who owns your death.

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    Japan Unveils World’s First 3D Hologram Banknote

    Ahead of its transition to the Reiwa era, Tokyo on Tuesday released designs of new ¥10,000, ¥5,000 and ¥1,000 bills. The highest denomination will feature Eiichi Shibusawa, a banker called “the father of Japanese capitalism,” while the most commonly used ¥1,000 bill will show Hokusai’s iconic woodblock print “The Great Wave off Kanagawa.” Expected in circulation by 2024, the bills will feature portraits rendered in 3D holograms — the world’s first such counterfeit-proof design.

    Isn’t cash coming to an end? One senior official suggested this could be Japan’s last currency update if the government fulfills its goal of making 40 percent of all transactions cashless by 2025.

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    This Lawmaker Gives Voice to Pakistan’s Sheedi Minority

    For many of Tanzeela Qambrani’s people, “Sheedi” is a word steeped in shame, often used as a racist expletive. But the 40-year-old embraces her East African roots to fight xenophobia, OZY reports, pushing for a better future for Pakistan’s tens of thousands of Sheedis from within the Sindh provincial legislature. “It’s in her blood to work for her people,” her brother says — even though Qambrani’s work has attracted criticism and threats.

    What’s her plan? Qambrani’s legislative agenda is focused on securing better educational opportunities for Sheedis, as well as fighting racism in the classroom.

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    Can Electrical Jolts Improve Memory?

    A Boston University study published this week found that gently zapping the brains of 42 test subjects aged 60 to 76 temporarily restored their memories to the performance level of 20-somethings. The results suggest that electrical current could resync brain waves across the prefrontal cortex and temporal lobe, and they support the theory that out-of-sync neurons cause a decline in working memory as people age.

    Could this be used to treat dementia? More research is needed, given the study’s small sample — and since the tests lasted under an hour, it’s unclear how long the effects actually last.

    Don’t miss the first season of OZY’s new podcast, The Future of X: Health.

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    Magic Johnson Quits as Lakers President

    At an impromptu press conference before the last game of the season, the NBA legend surprised reporters — and the front office — when he abruptly announced his retirement. “Somebody’s going to have to tell my boss,” Johnson said tearfully, referring to his longtime friend, team owner Jeanie Buss. He said he felt stifled in his management role, explaining, “I had more fun when I was able to be the big brother and ambassador to everybody.”

    What’s next for the Lakers? With a 37-44 record and a sixth straight season missing the playoffs, Buss will need to make a decision about coach Luke Walton, whom Johnson had reportedly wanted to fire.