The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Barr Refuses to Testify Before House Committee

    It’s a “political weapon.” That was U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s assessment of the Justice Department’s role in investigating President Donald Trump, which he declared “over.” After sparring with Democrats — some of whom demanded Barr’s resignation — during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday, Barr refused to meet with its Democrat-controlled House counterpart today.

    How could this pan out? Barr cited “unprecedented and unnecessary” conditions, such as having committee staff question him. The refusal could prompt the committee to subpoena him — which would likely end in a court battle.

    Read this OZY op-ed on countering Russian meddling. 

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    Florida Legislature OKs Teacher-Arming Bill

    Despite emotional pleas from Democratic opponents, Florida’s House of Representatives voted 65-47 to approve the bill, which authorizes teachers who have completed a 144-hour training course to carry guns in the classroom. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign it into law. The bill also includes unusual gun-control concessions — raising the rifle-buying age from 18 to 21 and instituting a three-day waiting period — in the wake of last year’s Parkland school shooting.

    Will Florida teachers arm themselves? School districts must first opt in, and the state’s largest, Miami-Dade, has said it won’t.

    Check out OZY’s look at White female gun lovers.

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    Powerful Cyclone Prompts Mass Evacuations in Eastern India

    Cyclone Fani, the strongest storm India has seen in five years, is expected to make landfall in the state of Odisha Friday, propelled by 124-mph winds. Officials have begun evacuations of more than 800,000 people in low-lying areas as the cyclone approaches a region with 100 million residents. Tourists have been urged to leave the area, schools and businesses are shuttered and two major ports have already been closed.

    How prepared is the area? Coast guard personnel and emergency responders are readying for deployment, while around 900 cyclone shelters could accommodate nearly 1 million evacuees.

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    UK Defense Chief Ousted as PM Girds for Huawei Fallout

    “A kangaroo court with a summary execution.” That’s how Gavin Williamson described his firing as Britain’s defense secretary by Prime Minister Theresa May. She blamed him for a leak from a National Security Council meeting that revealed a plan to let Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei help build the U.K.’s 5G network, despite international concerns about security risks. Williamson, who was replaced by Penny Mordaunt, maintains he’s not at fault, saying May “has made a serious mistake.”

    What might this signify? Critics say the infighting is further evidence of the Brexit-racked government losing control.

    OZY explores the Huawei security controversy.

  5. Also Important…

    Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó has admitted he needs more military help after he called for his countrymen to rise up yesterday, but failed to remove President Nicolás Maduro. The Trump administration on Wednesday filed an argument in a federal appeals court saying the Affordable Care Act should be struck down because it is unconstitutional. And a man died Wednesday in an unrelated shooting across the street from where a gunman killed two University of North Carolina-Charlotte students on Tuesday.

    #OZYfact: The first jockey to win the Kentucky Derby three times was a Black man, Isaac Burns Murphy, who was born into slavery. Read more on OZY.

    We’re listening! OZY has launched 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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    Chinese Women Make Big Bucks in the Boardroom

    Just one of the 25 seats in Beijing’s Politburo is held by a woman, OZY reports, but equality is infiltrating capitalist circles: Women occupied nearly 30 percent of the spots in the widely watched Hurun Report’s list of China’s 1,900 wealthiest individuals, and most of them are self-made. Experts believe that with plentiful alternatives available, fewer women are interested in public life, while China boasts more female entrepreneurs than any other country.

    How does the West compare? Only 14 percent of Forbes’ 400 richest Americans are female, and Silicon Valley Bank reports that women are much more likely to occupy senior jobs at Chinese startups than at American or British ones.

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    Gulf Nations’ Youth Love Their Nanny States

    Millennials are known for lingering in the nest, but in oil-dependent Gulf states, the national nest is growing less hospitable and a huge youth population is becoming increasingly anxious. That’s according to a recent survey of 3,330 young people in 15 Arab countries, which found that among Gulf residents 18 to 24 years old, around 80 percent expect governments to provide jobs, energy subsidies and health care. 

    What might this mean? As governments in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi push toward privatization, living standards may decline — and with them, the loyalties of youth who’ll enjoy fewer and fewer subsidies.

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    Tibetan Cave Reveals Secrets of Early Humans

    The Denisovans, who lived at the same time as Neanderthals, have long been a mystery to paleoanthropologists, but the discovery of a jawbone at the edge of the Tibetan Plateau has helped complete the picture. The 160,000-year-old mandible proves the Denisovans — whose remains had previously only been found 1,400 miles away in Siberia — moved farther across Asia than previously known. “Thanks to this study we are ‘cornering’ Denisovans,” one expert declared.

    Is there a link to modern man? Tibetans’ ability to thrive in thin air is thought to be linked to prehistoric ancestors, but DNA evidence to prove that remains elusive.

    OZY examines tales of Jesus’ Tibetan sojourns.

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    BTS, Drake, Ariana Grande Win Big at Billboard Music Awards

    It’s BTS’ world, we just live in it. The K-pop boy band beat out Maroon 5 and Imagine Dragons to take home the award for top group. Grande picked up top female artist, while her male counterpart, Drake, won 12 awards to surpass Taylor Swift’s lifetime haul with 27 golden mics. In one of his dozen acceptance speeches he also gave a shout-out to a Game of Thrones character “for putting in that work last week,” which could’ve been a massive spoiler for any fans who weren’t caught up.

    Is K-pop here to stay? BTS also took home the trophy for top social artist, a fan-voted award, suggesting the Korean pop stars aren’t going anywhere.

    OZY looks at where it all began for BTS.

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    Caster Semenya Loses Legal Case Against IAAF

    The two-time Olympic champion’s career could be over after she lost her appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which sided with the International Association of Athletics Federations by a vote of 2 to 1. Wednesday’s landmark verdict upholds the IAAF’s rule that requires Semenya — who was born with internal testes — to take medication to lower her natural testosterone levels before she can return to the 800-meter race. The court admitted the policy is “discriminatory,” but said it was necessary to keep the sport competitive.

    What are her options? Semenya, who said she worries about the health consequences of hormone treatment, could retire or switch to the 5,000-meter race, which isn’t bound by the same IAAF rules.