The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Fire Collapses Notre Dame Cathedral Spire, Roof

    The main spire and part of the roof of the iconic Paris landmark have collapsed during the conflagration, which firefighters were able to control enough late Monday to prevent the entire structure’s collapse, a fire official said. The 12th-Century cathedral suffered “colossal damage” as its spire collapsed inward while engulfed in flames. No deaths have been reported, but President Emmanuel Macron said he and the nation were sad “to see this part of us burning.”

    What might have caused this? Police quoted by French media said the fire is “potentially linked” to a $6.8 million renovation of the spire.

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    Ecuador: Assange Tried to Use Embassy for Spying

    President Lenín Moreno said he revoked Julian Assange’s political asylum because the WikiLeaks co-founder attempted to use London’s Ecuadorian Embassy as a “center for spying.” He insisted the move — which earned him scorn from his predecessor, Rafael Correa — was “based on international law,” and denied that it was payback for a recent leak of documents related to Moreno’s family.

    What’s next for Assange? Although the controversial activist already faces potential extradition to the U.S., Sweden may make its own claim as prosecutors there are considering reopening a probe into sexual assault allegations against him.

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    Sudan’s Military Council Offers Civilian Government

    In a press conference yesterday, a spokesman for the country’s transitional military council pledged to let opposition groups appoint a civilian government, including a prime minister, following last week’s ouster of President Omar al-Bashir. Sudan’s military rulers also announced an overhaul of security agencies, lifted media restrictions and promised not to disperse protesters staging peaceful sit-ins, so long as they “let normal life resume.”

    Is democracy really coming? It remains to be seen whether a long-term dialogue between the ruling council and protesters will last, though some experts say the military is now beholden to civilians more than ever before.

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    Pete Buttigieg Kicks Off 2020 Campaign

    Embracing the “audacity” of his bid, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, launched his campaign for the U.S. presidency yesterday. At 37, “Mayor Pete” is the youngest candidate in the expanding Democratic field — and if elected, he’d be the first openly gay president. The former Rhodes Scholar and Afghan war veteran has raised $7 million and is surging ahead in polls, just behind Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden.

    Where is Buttigieg headed next? He’ll test his appeal on the stump in Iowa this week, as well as at a fundraiser in Chicago April 23.

    Read OZY’s profile of another millennial breaking into the 2020 conversation.

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    Germany Open to Huawei’s 5G Business

    With the U.S. leading a global charge to ban the Chinese telecommunications giant over cybersecurity concerns, the head of Germany’s federal network agency has said Huawei is free to participate in the construction of 5G infrastructure in his country. Although Washington’s ambassador to Berlin threatened consequences if Huawei was allowed in, Jochen Homann said he hasn’t seen any evidence yet of a security risk.

    Why does Germany need Huawei? Since German operators already use Huawei technology in some capacity, the company’s exclusion from the local market would delay Germany’s 5G rollout.

    Don’t miss OZY’s Special Briefing on the Huawei scandal.

  6. Also Important…

    Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar says she’s faced increasing death threats after President Donald Trump tweeted a video purporting to show her being dismissive of the Sept. 11 attacks. During a visit to the Colombian border city of Cucuta, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. would continue pressuring embattled Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. And the center-left Social Democratic Party has narrowly won Finland’s parliamentary elections with 17.7 percent of the vote.

    #OZYfact: Edward Bellamy’s 1888 utopian novel Looking Backward was the biggest best-seller of its time. Read more on OZY.

    We’re listening! OZY’s launching a series about love stories — and we want to hear yours. If you’ve found yourself in an unconventional or intriguing romantic situation, send an email to and tell us all about it!


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    Tiger Woods Stages Comeback With Masters Win

    The phenom who turbocharged golf as a spectator sport — then fell into a decade-long slump marked by injuries and scandals — pulled off what’s being hailed as a remarkable comeback yesterday at the prestigious Augusta National. The 43-year-old nearly dropped off the radar before arriving at the Masters, but Woods broke out of a five-way tie to win his fifth green jacket by one stroke.

    What’s different this time? After his victory, Woods hugged his son in nearly the exact same place where he embraced his father, who died in 2006, after his first Masters triumph in 1997.

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    World’s Largest Airplane Makes First Flight

    Aerospace is getting a lift. Saturday’s successful initial flight of Roc, a six-engined behemoth boasting a record 385-foot wingspan, over California’s Mojave Desert carried a special poignancy. The catamaran-style, twin-fuselage jet was created by Stratolaunch, an eight-year project of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who died in October. By 2020 Stratolaunch aims to loft 250-ton rocket ships into the stratosphere to launch satellites.

    Is this a game-changer? With only a few rocket launch facilities available, this winged marvel will theoretically enable launches from wherever there’s a long enough runway.

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    DNA Test Confirms Death of Philippine ISIS Leader

    Military officials said Sunday that U.S. forensic tests verified that Abu Dar, leader of the ISIS-affiliated Maute Group, was among those killed in a March 14 gun battle in the Lanao del Sur province. The militant leader, whose real name was Owaida Marohombsar, masterminded the 2017 siege of Marawi that decimated the city. That sparked President Rodrigo Duterte to institute martial law in southern provinces.

    Could this help end terrorism in the Philippines? It’s too early to tell, as a number of ISIS-linked armed groups could still consolidate control and fill the void.

    Read OZY’s profile of the man racing to save the country’s ancient script.

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    West Africa Is a Lab for Emergency Medicine

    An explosion in software-led technology businesses across the region has powered homegrown, cutting-edge emergency health care that saves lives, OZY reports. For example, Ghana-based Snoo-CODE helps pinpoint locations to within 10 inches so that ambulances can be dispatched to people in need of care. Investments in African startups grew by more than 300 percent last year, pouring into sectors where disruption was long overdue — such as emergency medical services.

    Where will these innovations spread next? They could be exported to other developing, densely populated nations, including rural parts of India and China.

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    Writers Guild of America Dumps Agents Over Contract Battle

    Following Friday’s failure to negotiate a new agreement with the Association of Talent Agents, prominent Hollywood writers launched a Twitter campaign over the weekend to publicly post termination letters severing ties with their agencies. The writers’ union has introduced a new code of conduct calling for an end to packaging — a practice that lets agents bundle talent to present to studios or networks — claiming that it limits salaries for mid- and low-level writers.

    What’s next for writers? As broadcast TV’s traditional staffing season kicks off, they’ll be fending for themselves to get hired.

    Check out OZYs profile of the Hollywood stuntwoman fighting whitewashing.