The Presidential Daily Brief

important

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    Journal: Trump Defied Pompeo, Bolton on Nixing Iran Strike

    While Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton were “cocked and loaded” to attack Iran Thursday, a skeptical President Donald Trump deferred to America’s top general, the Wall Street Journal reports. Marine Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed wariness, and the Pentagon even did an end run around Bolton’s staff to get an estimated death toll of 150 Iranians — cited in the cancellation — delivered to the commander-in-chief.

    What’s the alternative? U.S. Cyber Command did launch a cyber attack against Iranian forces blamed for recent oil tanker attacks, and Trump’s imposing new economic sanctions.

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    President Calls Off Migrant Raids, Citing Democrats’ Plea

    In another surprise reversal, President Donald Trump tweeted that, “at the request of Democrats,” he was calling off a 10-city roundup of some 2,000 migrants who had received deportation orders. He wrote that Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids, beginning Sunday, would be postponed for two weeks to give Congress a chance to solve “Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border.”

    What’s the other side? Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly spoke to Trump Friday and tweeted that the delay is “welcome” and referenced feared family separations, saying “Families belong together.” Opponents called the removals a campaign ploy, pointing to Trump’s earlier tweet promising “millions” of deportations. 

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    Democratic Challengers Prepare to Face Off in Miami 

    On Wednesday and Thursday, two groups of 10 presidential candidates will meet in the first Democratic presidential debates. The most popular will get center stage, with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke sharing that advantage Wednesday, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and front-running former Vice President Joe Biden anchor the second night.

    Could it make a difference? Recent polling suggests that 82 percent of Democratic voters will watch, with 86 percent saying the debates will help them choose a favorite.

    Read this OZY op-ed about President Trump’s efforts to stop Alabama’s Roy Moore.

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    Can Beijing Let Hong Kong Protests Continue?

    The pro-democracy movement seems victorious. But the shelving of a hated extradition bill and a public apology from Chief Executive Carrie Lam may be just a breather before the next battle between Hongkongers and Beijing. The semiautonomous territory’s independent judiciary may be in the crosshairs next, now that extradition is on hold, with the mainland intervening much as it has in recent elections.

    What may be coming? The success of the protests is unprecedented, but there are signs — like Hong Kong’s police training amid the mainland’s notorious Xinjiang crackdown — that Beijing’s grip will only tighten.

    OZY asks, who is Carrie Lam?

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    Trump Calls New Sexual Assault Claim ‘Fiction’

    She’s trying to sell a book. That’s how the U.S. president dismissed the latest in a litany of non-consensual sexual contact claims. In a forthcoming book, Elle Magazine advice columnist E. Jean Carroll describes a mid-1990s incident in a New York department store dressing room. She writes that the real estate magnate held her against a wall and forcibly penetrated her “private area” with his penis. Trump denied the claim, saying, “shame on those who make up false stories.” He added that they “should pay dearly.”

    Why hadn’t she reported it until now? She wrote that she feared “being dismissed, being dragged through the mud.” 

  6. Also Important…

    The White House on Saturday unveiled a $50 billion economic development plan for Palestinians and Israel’s neighboring Arab nations to accompany a Mideast peace proposal. Oregon’s legislature has been shut down by a “possible militia threat” amid a walkout by Republican senators over a bill to fight climate change. And the chief of staff for Ethiopia’s army was shot dead by his own bodyguard in a reported coup attempt in the country’s northern region of Amhara, whose governor was also killed.

    In the week ahead: On Monday, U.S. Army Secretary and defense secretary nominee Mark Esper takes over as acting defense secretary after the resignation of Patrick Shanahan following domestic violence reports. Singer R. Kelly has until Wednesday to respond to a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse. And Friday is the start of the G-20 Summit, featuring a meeting between President Trump and his Chinese counterpart.

    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.

intriguing

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    When MH370’s Passengers Died

    It’s still a mystery, the March 2014 disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 777 into calm skies. But answers lurk just below the surface of Kuala Lumpur’s official — and seemingly whitewashed — reports, contends journalist William Langewiesche. A combination of signals from the plane, washed-up debris and papered-over details about the pilot reveal the presumed final hours of the China-bound flight.

    What likely happened? The divorce-troubled pilot locked his co-pilot out of the cockpit, turned the plane toward Antarctica and silently killed everyone else onboard by depressurizing the cabin. He then piloted the macabre flight hours into the Indian Ocean before crashing into the waves.

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    The Sci-Fi Novels in Which China Defends the Earth

    American sci-fi thrived in the 20th century as the United States embraced rapid progress. Now it’s China’s turn and Liu Cixin’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy is leading the way. Liu doesn’t, however, subscribe to comparisons between his galactic superpower, Trisolaris, and today’s U.S. asserting its power over China.

    Is Liu writing the future? “The whole point is to escape the real world!” the author protests, but the caliber of his fans, from Barack Obama to Mark Zuckerberg, suggests he’s onto something far more meaningful.

    OZY checks out East Asia’s emerging fantasy authors.

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    Jibo the Robot, Forever in Our Hearts

    Four years may seem a sufficient lifetime for a digital device, but not for many who fell in love with Jibo after it launched in 2015. The pint-size dancing robot is basically a digital assistant, aside from a mood readout and swiveling hips and head. But MIT scientist Cynthia Breazeal designed it to make friends, which is why some owners feel guilty leaving it home alone.

    What’s going to happen? The company that owns its servers is closing, so Jibo fans are already mourning its death — especially children — which some experts say indicates we’re better off without it.

    Check out OZY’s Life, Interrupted video about a robot drummer.

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    Backpage: Free Speech Icon or Sex Crime Site?

    Michael Lacey and James Larkin are the co-founders of Backpage.com, a classifieds site that became one of the largest marketplaces for buying and selling sex. Federal authorities, alleging that the site promotes crimes like sexual slavery, last year arrested the two, who are waging multiple court battles arguing their ads are protected by the First Amendment.

    What’s the ripple effect? Like Backpage.com, tech giants often use Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act to protect themselves from liability for hosted content. But 2018 legislation undermines that defense, clearing the way, speech advocates warn, for the government to shut down other kinds of websites.

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    Don’t Miss the Other NCAA Tournament

    NBA free agents may be grabbing headlines, but baseball’s NCAA Tournament is underway with a surprise team favored to win it all. The University of Michigan barely qualified for the eight-team competition, boasting five major league draft picks and a surprisingly diverse roster threatening to snatch the glory usually monopolized by Southern and Western teams.

    What else is going on? OZY’s The Huddle also features the world’s best women’s soccer player, Australian Sam Kerr, who scored four goals against Jamaica and has scored more pro goals for her Chicago Red Stars than any NWSL player ever.

    Get OZY’s The Huddle every week by clicking on the envelope here.