The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Putin, Kim Sit for First Summit

    Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un today in the far eastern city of Vladivostok, where they discussed efforts to diffuse international tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear program. The first-ever summit between the two leaders comes just two months after talks between Kim and President Donald Trump collapsed, leaving room for Moscow to boost its international clout — and Pyongyang to prove it’s got other partners to talk to.

    Are there other motives? Besides seeking to avert a crisis on its southern flank, Russia’s interested in North Korea’s mineral resources, while Pyongyang could use Russian investment to bolster its aging infrastructure.

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    Joe Biden Launches Presidential Bid

    In a video posted to Twitter this morning, the former U.S. vice president officially announced his plans to run for next year’s Democratic nomination. While Biden is popular in polls, the 76-year-old moderate will need to prove he’s in tune with the surge of youthful energy within his party and its ever-widening field of presidential contenders. He’s also recently been hampered by allegations of inappropriately affectionate physical contact with women.

    What’s his biggest challenge? Some Democratic voters are skeptical of a White male political old-timer in race already chock-full of progressives, women and people of color.

    Read OZY’s Immodest Proposal on why 2020 contenders should stop advertising.

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    Sri Lanka Probe Focuses on Spice Tycoon

    A prominent Sri Lankan spice trader is being investigated by local authorities in connection with Sunday’s deadly Easter attacks on churches and hotels. Two of the eight suicide bombers that collectively killed 359 people are believed to have been sons of prominent tycoon Mohamed Yusuf Ibrahim. CNN reports that he’s currently in police custody, suspected of aiding and abetting them.

    How connected is Ibrahim? He’s a prominent businessman in Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital, and was even honored by a former president for “outstanding service provided to the nation.”

    Check out OZY’s Special Briefing on the Sri Lanka attacks.

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    Facebook Plans for $3 Billion Federal Fine

    It’s saving face. In a quarterly earnings report Wednesday, the social media giant said it’s setting aside $3 billion to cover an expected U.S. Federal Trade Commission penalty for privacy violations stemming from last year’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. But the “unresolved” matter could cost up to $5 billion, according to Facebook — which posted a 26 percent revenue increase from the same period last year. The FTC fine would likely be the largest penalty ever against a U.S. tech firm.

    Is this bad news for Facebook? Apparently not: Company stock jumped about 8 percent after the earnings report was released.

  5. Also Important…

    The state of Texas has executed a 44-year-old convict for the racially motivated dragging death of a Black man 21 years ago. In its quarterly earnings report, Boeing said the worldwide grounding of its 737 Max jet could cost the company $1 billion. And Berlin’s first vegan cafeteria for students is now open.

    #OZYfact: Between 2009 and 2018, nearly 1.1 million Americans with disabilities got divorced — almost twice the number that got married. Read more on OZY.

    We’re hiring! OZY is looking for a prolific sports reporter who’s comfortable creating profiles, trend stories, data-driven articles and thought-pieces. Could this be you? Check out the job description for more details … and find all our open jobs right here.


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    US Sees Largest Measles Outbreak Since 2000

    Yesterday the U.S. Centers for Disease Control announced that 695 cases have been detected across 22 states this year — the highest number since measles was declared eradicated nearly two decades ago. The CDC warned that the virus could gain a “sustained foothold” if the outbreaks, such as those in New York and Washington states, continue.

    What’s in store for the future? Although considered an easily preventable disease, experts say they’re preparing for measles outbreaks to become “the new normal” thanks to widespread misinformation about vaccines.

    Check out OZY’s story about the world’s first anti-vax fatwa.

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    This Professor Is Fighting for Vietnam’s Farmers

    Home to 20 million people, the Mekong Delta is one of the world’s most productive agricultural environments — but rising sea levels and more extreme climatic events threaten the future of Vietnam’s rice basket. Enter Duong Van Ni: The 63-year-old environmental studies professor spends most of his time on field trips across the Mekong, OZY reports, educating local farmers and young scientists alike on ways to prepare for and mitigate the effects of climate change.

    How pressing is the problem? A recent study suggests that unless drastic action is taken, most of the delta will be submerged by the end of the century.

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    Heavy Rains Kill Dozens in South Africa

    More than 60 people are dead and at least 1,000 have fled their homes following disastrous flooding and mudslides along the country’s eastern coast, mostly affecting the KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape provinces. South Africa has been hit with heavy rains all week, and 13 people were killed during an Easter service when a church wall collapsed. President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the ravaged area, while South Africans have organized relief efforts for those affected.

    Has the storm already passed? Forecasts suggest rescuers may get a short break before rains return over the weekend, while roads and low-lying bridges no longer appear under threat.

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    ‘Empire’ Cast Rallies Behind Jussie Smollett

    Is the pen mightier than the charge? Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard and the TV drama’s other top stars wrote to network executives last week as a “united front” to ask that their embattled colleague, who allegedly staged a racist and homophobic attack, be allowed to return to the show. They blamed the “extreme political climate” for Smollett’s legal troubles, noting that the 16 felony charges against him were dropped.

    Will Empire be extended? Although sources say a sixth season is very likely, they suggest it’s still unclear if Smollett will be included.

    Read this OZY feature about Chicago’s crime-busting model for education.

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    Will Andy Murray Return to Tennis?

    The three-time Grand Slam winner’s mother, Judy, says her son is “cautiously optimistic” that he’ll be back in action this summer after undergoing hip surgery. Murray hasn’t hit the court since the Australian Open in January, when the 31-year-old told fans he’d probably retire this year because of hip pain. That same month, he underwent a hip resurfacing operation, and he reported in March that he was pain-free.

    Will we see Murray at Wimbledon? While he said last month that there was a “less than 50 percent” chance, an American doubles player had the same surgery last year and has since returned to the court.

    OZY asks: Has women’s tennis found marketing’s fountain of youth?