OZY Daily Brief- April 19th 2022

Presidential Daily Brief

Apr 19, 2022


“Russian forces have started the battle of the Donbas,” said President Zelenskyy, who warned that the battle would be long. U.S. airlines and Amtrak celebrated after a Florida federal judge struck down the CDC’s mask mandate. East Timor is electing a new president today, but whoever wins will have their work cut out for them. And we examine India’s generous offer to “feed the world” amid rising food prices. All this and more in today’s PDB.


Eastern Advance

Zelenskyy Says the Battle for Donbas Has Begun 

In their quest to “liberate” the contested Donbas region of Ukraine, Russian forces launched a fresh offensive along the country’s long eastern flank on Monday. “We can now say that Russian forces have started the battle of the Donbas, for which they have long prepared,” said President Volodymr Zelenskyy. Since 2014, Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces in the mainly Russian-speaking Donbas, where they have declared two independent republics. “No matter how many Russian troops are driven there, we will fight,” said Zelenskyy. “We will defend ourselves.” The battle is expected to be long and bloody — on both sides. (Sources: ReutersAP)

Masks Off!

Mask Requirement on US Public Transport Lifted

Hours after a Trump-appointed Florida federal judge struck down the mask mandate on public transport, most major U.S. airlines dropped mask requirements for domestic flights, and Amtrak announced that passengers and employees wouldn’t have to mask up. The decision came five days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended the mask mandate through May 3. Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle argued that the agency exceeded its legal authority in terms of the Public Health Services Act of 1944. The Biden administration, which was reviewing the decision ahead of a possible appeal, advised people to wear masks in enclosed spaces. (Source: NYT)

Bitter Battle

East Timor Votes for President Amid Political Impasse

More than 20 years since East Timor achieved independence from Indonesia, two former independence fighters still dominate the political landscape. Voters in today’s runoff are choosing between bitter rivals Jose Ramos-Horta, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 and served as president from 2007-12, and incumbent President Francisco “Lu Olo” Guterres. Ramos-Horta — who claimed 46.6% of votes to Guterres’ 22.1% in the first round — looks likely to win, but the path ahead for the poverty-stricken nation is murky. East Timor is operating without a budget, and Ramos-Horta has said he’ll call an early parliamentary election if he wins. (Sources: APAl Jazeera)

India to the Rescue?

PM Modi Offers to Feed the World — But Can he Really?

Amid rising food prices caused by the war in Ukraine, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India was “ready to supply food stocks to the world from tomorrow,” pending approval by the World Trade Organization. Between them, Russia and Ukraine account for a third of global wheat exports and 17% of corn and barley exports. India could export 22 million tons of rice and 16 million tons of wheat this year, said professor of agriculture Ashok Gulati, which would “help cool the global prices.” But others have warned that Modi may be basing his calculations on inflated harvest predictions. (Source: BBC)


Here are some things you should know about today: 

Hospitalized — again. Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, 83, who’s serving a jail term for crimes against humanity committed during his presidency, was hospitalized for the second time in a month. (Source: Al JazeeraState of disaster. Following floods that claimed more than 400 lives, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster — less than two weeks after lifting the two-year-long COVID-19 state of disaster. (Source: EWNFed up. As Shanghai enters its fourth week of lockdown, residents are complaining of a lack of food and freedom. Rising resentment may make the country’s zero-COVID strategy harder to implement, experts warn. (Source: DW)