The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. tea party republican rep justin amash wikimedia commons square

    First GOP Lawmaker Calls for Impeachement

    Michigan Rep. Justin Amash said that unlike many colleagues, he’d read the 448-page Mueller Report, concluding that President Donald Trump’s conduct was “impeachable,” and included obstruction of justice. The Tea Party stalwart also wrote that Attorney General William Barr “deliberately misrepresented” special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings. Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel called it “sad to see” Amash “parroting” Democratic talking points.

    Could this spur impeachment? Democrats controlling the House of Representatives have avoided it, believing it could help Trump, who’s unlikely to be removed by a GOP-run Senate. But it does represent a crack in the president’s otherwise solid Republican backing.

    Read OZY’s take on the Barr-Trump relationship.

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    Surprise: Australian Government Survives Election

    They didn’t see this coming. Polls had predicted that opposition Labour would supplant the conservative Liberal-National coalition of Prime Minister Scott Morrison in today’s election. But the ruling parties, with 76 percent of the vote counted, have scored a surprising upset, winning all but one of the seats needed for a parliamentary majority. They were tracking to win more seats, prompting Labour leader Bill Shorten to concede and resign.

    Why is this so surprising? Polls reflected a disenchantment with the conservative government, which ousted its previous prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, in a divisive August battle for power.

    Read OZY’s look at the growing influence of Chinese-Australian voters.

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    Florida: Trump Reverses Migrant Relocations

    After federal immigration authorities alarmed Sunshine State officials by warning them they’d be sending them two planeloads of asylum seekers a week, President Donald Trump has promised to stop it, said a spokesperson for Gov. Ron DeSantis. Seemingly in keeping with a presidential threat to send immigrants to Democrat-run areas, two such places, South Florida’s Broward and Palm Beach Counties, reported federal officials warning them of impending arrivals.

    Why the switch? It’s unclear, but possible factors include the Republican governor’s political kinship with Trump, who says he didn’t authorize the policy, although U.S. Customs and Border Protection says it’s considering housing migrants at other locations around the nation.

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    Trump Contradicts Alabama’s Abortion Law

    Alabama last week enacted the nation’s most severe abortion ban, with no rape or incest exceptions, but that doesn’t square with President Trump’s view of abortion. In a tweet late Saturday, he said that while he was ”strongly pro-life,” he believed that rape, incest and mortal risk to the mother were appropriate exceptions. Alabama is one of eight GOP-led states to recently pass anti-abortion measures. They’re aimed at giving the Supreme Court’s two Trump appointees a chance to overturn the court’s 1973 decision legalizing abortion.

    What’s next? Legal challenges are certain to propel the issue before the high court, which might allow the bans while setting limits on them.

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    Trump Denies Infighting Over Iran

    Hopefully, Tehran is confused. That’s what President Donald Trump says about reports that his top foreign policy officials, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, were feuding over Iran policy. This comes after a drumbeat of moves, from sending warships and bombers to the Persian Gulf to evacuating some staff from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

    What’s the dispute? According to sourced reports — dismissed as “bullsh*t” by Trump — Pompeo’s aiming at negotiations with Tehran, which aligns with Trump’s statements, but Bolton, who’s lately had more policy clout, is seeking regime change.

    OZY’s security analyst, John McLaughlin, tries to make sense of U.S. Iran policy.   

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    Modi Calls Gandhi Taunts ‘Disgusting’ as Election Nears End  

    Just two days ahead of final voting in the world’s largest democratic election, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi admonished hard-liners in his own BJP party. He said their comments praising Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin as a “patriot” were “deplorable and disgusting.” The country’s seven-phase election began April 11 and ends today in Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state.

    Who is the favorite? Modi had looked vulnerable this year, but the BJP appears poised for victory after a February military showdown with Pakistan made security a top issue. 

     Read this OZY profile on a young challenger to India’s ruling party.

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    The (One) Day German Energy Was Sustainable

    Germany’s wind turbines are impossible to miss, along with its photovoltaic solar panel farms. So far has the country come that on April 22, there was almost enough clean energy — 56 gigawatts — to power the entire nation. But when it’s not so sunny and windy, much of Germany’s electricity is coal-generated, and auditors complain that a renewables push has been costly and inefficient.

    And the good news? Pollution-spewing German cars are approaching extinction, with hopes that hydrogen fuel could enable “wind-powered” vehicles in the near future.

    Check out OZY’s profile of an inventor who makes cleaner fuel out of air.

  8. Also Important…

    At least 16 people have been injured by an explosion that hit a tour bus near Egypt’s Great Pyramids. Austria plans to hold snap elections after its far-right vice chancellor quit following the release of a 2017 video in which he discussed illegally securing government contracts with a person pretending to represent a Russian oligarch. Dutch singer Duncan Laurence last night won the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. And War of Will has won horseracing’s Preakness Stakes.

    In the week ahead: Today Swiss voters decide whether to tighten gun regulations to satisfy European Union demands. The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled Tuesday for testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn, whom the Trump administration may prohibit from appearing. And on Thursday, U.S. and international aviation regulators will hold meetings on allowing Boeing 737 Max aircraft to resume service following deadly crashes.

    OZY Fest is back! Join OZY in New York’s Central Park July 20-21, where some of the biggest names and boldest thinkers — from John Legend and Trevor Noah to Stacey Abrams and Malcolm Gladwell — will help make this year’s OZY Fest the most memorable yet. Click here for tickets.


  1. Computer hacker hoodie shutterstock 253549105

    They Help Ransomware Victims … by Paying Hackers

    Who can help users of the estimated 1.5 million computers hit annually by ransomware? Two U.S. firms, Proven Data Recovery and MonsterCloud, say they’ve helped thousands of victims. They claim their technical know-how can free the data that hackers are holding hostage. But a ProPublica investigation suggests a pattern of offering to unhack computers, then simply paying a sometimes discounted ransom for a fee that easily covers it. The companies deny wrongdoing. 

    Is this legal? Some experts say it looks like conspiring with hackers. The firms deny colluding, but they are reportedly at least misleading some customers.

    OZY security analyst John McLaughlin explains why U.S. elections are easy to hack.

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    Scientists Learn From Puerto Rico’s Traumatized Monkeys

    Cayo Santiago is home to around 1,700 macaques, all related to the original 409 transplanted from India to Puerto Rico in the 1930s. From the very beginning, the population was studied and many generations of data enable modern behavioral research like nowhere else on Earth. After Hurricane Maria swept through in 2017, a new opportunity arose as the macaques, like their human counterparts, showed signs of trauma.

    What can they teach us? Preliminary results of post-storm research showed the monkeys relying on one another more and getting along better — much as human disaster survivors often do.

    Read OZY’s profile of San Juan’s tough-talking mayor.

  3. chernobyl exclusion zone fox wildlife shutterstock 1212031954

    Chernobyl: The Paradise at the End of the World

    Wolves have proliferated in the decades following the 1986 nuclear reactor explosion and meltdown that sent clouds of radioactive particles into the air breathed by 3 billion humans. Elk and deer, along with bears and rodents, now thrive in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, one of the few terrestrial places that humans have stopped inhabiting.

    What can we learn from this? The phenomenon shows what a world without us might look like — but lingering radioactive particles, perhaps transported by wildlife, remind us of the risks mankind faces when relying on nuclear power to combat climate change.

    Read OZY’s account of a radioactive mosquito bite.

  4. Drinks 2

    The Awesome Tree Sap Beer That’ll Turn Your Stomach

    Drink responsibly. That warning takes on a new urgency with salfi, the traditional “beer” in the southern end of India’s Chhattisgarh state. Tasting a bit like coconut milk with a mild, though bitter, finish, it’s usually harvested from an indigenous palm variety by hacking a branch and letting the sap drip into an earthen pot. Then the magic happens: Airborne yeast causes the juice to ferment quickly, so it can be consumed right away.

    What’s the catch? If you don’t quaff salfi immediately, the rapid fermentation causes it to curdle and become toxic. So hurry up and drink.

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    Pro Wrestler’s Death Brings Reality Into the Ring

    The Silver King, a professional wrestler whose Mexican lucha libre credentials earned him a part as Jack Black’s cinematic antagonist in Nacho Libre, died mid-match of cardiac arrest on May 11. While the 51-year-old’s vocation involved a fake sport, opines sportswriter Oliver Bateman, his demise displayed the real hazards practitioners face — especially near the end of their careers.

    Has this happened before? While most pros survive to retirement, there have been notable exceptions, like the 1997 death of young Plum Mariko, who died after an opponent’s powerbomb put her in a coma, and Mitsuharu Misawa, who died in 2009 after a career of damaging blows.