The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. US Raid Said to Kill ISIS Leader

    President Donald Trump has added his voice to sources from Tehran to Washington saying that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed Saturday in a U.S. raid. The leader of the so-called caliphate detonated a suicide vest when faced with American special forces, Trump announced today, in Syria's northwestern Idlib province.

    Is it really him? U.S. officials said earlier that the dead man's identity has yet to be confirmed, and skeptical analysts note that Idlib, populated with ISIS foes, was an unlikely hiding place for al-Baghdadi.

    Read this OZY story on the new war on terror.

  2. The President's Red Line Thins

    As a federal judge ordered the Justice Department to hand House investigators its Russia probe grand jury evidence Friday, one thing became clear: President Donald Trump's efforts to undercut the impeachment process aren't working. After this week's damaging Capitol Hill testimony from administration officials came word that former national security adviser John Bolton may also put in a congressional appearance.

    What's Trump's latest move? He directed all government agencies to cancel subscriptions to the Washington Post and New York Times, a move former four-star general Barry McCaffrey called "deadly serious. This is Mussolini."

    Read this OZY op-ed on the GOP's presidential replacement.

  3. EU Eases Brexit Halloween Scare

    Next Thursday, Halloween, remains the latest official Brexit deadline, but European Union ambassadors agreed Friday to extend that, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government is expected to accept. But the length and flexibility of the new deadline won't be decided until next week, and much hangs on that detail. Three months, with an earlier exit option is likely, but France apparently favors a shorter timeline.

    What about Westminster's deadlock? Johnson's aim is to approve his Brexit legislation in Parliament, with opposition support, then hold a general election Dec. 12. Failing that, he's threatened a "strike," which would freeze new legislation.

  4. Easteurope 155101379

    Why Eastern Europe Lost Faith in Liberalism

    When communism fell at the close of the 1980s, western-style liberal democracy rose in a bid to change eastern Europe. Now, these democracies have become places where there is zero tolerance for dissidents and minorities, argue political scientists Ivan Krastev and Stephen Holmes. They say just as communism became the region's "failed god," citizens have since soured on the alternative.

    How could this happen? After living in a supposedly egalitarian system, countries like Poland and Hungary have become the opposite, with money and power being distributed in a seemingly unfair and random fashion.

  5. The Paralysis of Lebanon’s Vicious Cycle

    Lebanon’s failure to provide the most basic provisions — from electricity to trash pickup — is rooted in its colonial history, posits Christiana Parreira, a Stanford University Middle East researcher. She believes that the practice of elites currying favor with local officials as a substitute for a functioning government is left over from the Ottoman Empire. The political elites who emerged from the country’s 1970s civil war maintained that social contract.

    How long can this arrangement last? The expiration date may have already arrived, with nationwide protests exploding across the country last week.

  6. Also Important...

    Some 3,000 people are fighting to contain a 26,000-acre Northern California fire that's threatening to spread faster with strong winds and dry air as millions lose power as a fire-prevention measure. British authorities have charged a Northern Irish truck driver with manslaughter in the deaths of 39 migrants found dead in his trailer. Some 30 people were reportedly killed during new anti-government protests in Iraq Friday. And the Houston Astros beat the Washington Nationals 8-1 last night, leveling the World Series at two games apiece.

    In the week ahead: Argentina holes elections today amid a crumbling economy. Tuesday marks the 50th anniversary of the internet, or at least the concept's first test. And on Wednesday, Boeing's CEO will testify on Capitol Hill about deadly 737 Max failures.

    OZY is hiring! We’re looking for an analytical and globally minded reporter to discover stories in science, technology and health. Visit our jobs page and read the description here.


  1. The Tragic Normalcy of Rep. Cummings’ Death

    In addition to being eulogized by former President Barack Obama Friday, the late Rep. Elijah Cummings was also a statistic. Author and historian Ibram X. Kendi notes that the Maryland congressman’s death at age 68 wasn’t young for Black men, who average 72 years — four fewer than White men — a statistic that becomes more stark in places like Kansas City, where the gap is two decades.

    Why is that? Kendi used to assume that Black men make poor choices, but, he writes, he’s since learned that access to healthy foods and exercise opportunities — constrained by racial barriers — can make significant differences.

  2. How High-Tech Criminals Evade Detection

    Phones used by the criminal underground aren’t like the one in your hand. A small, secretive ultrasecure mobile industry is reportedly mixed up with some shady characters. Secure communication company MPC reportedly once served a global crime syndicate called the Brothers, based in Glasgow, Scotland. Authorities have linked the tech to assassinations, the drug trade and even cases of torture.

    Can they be cracked? MPC is reportedly defunct, but there are others helping stymie criminal investigators desperate to know what the bad guys are texting one another.

    Catch up on the future of crime with OZY.

  3. A Navy Corpsman Heads South to Break Down Walls

    Max Moore got rattled seeing U.S. deportations and migrant children separated from their parents. So the former Navy corpsman drove to Central America to connect with people facing the wrath of the U.S. government and be of some service to the poor, he writes for OZY.

    What happened? Moore ended up using his skills to sew together the nose of a toddler mauled by a dog. His time assisting Central Americans taught him that people can break down walls "if you open your eyes and your heart."

  4. How Seashells Could Save Humanity

    Scientists believe that once touched, seashells become mnemoactive, with the power to remind people of the beautiful moments they experienced when they stumbled upon the shells. And like humans, seashells have a history of migration. They were buried with African slaves who came to the New World and sold among Arab traders. For millennia, they have been incorporated into religious and secular rituals.

    How will seashells be valued in the future? As climate change and urbanization eat away at coastlines and threaten sea life, seashells could bring us closer to the natural world eroding before our eyes.

  5. Will Brain Zapping Help You Cycle Faster?

    The not-so-snappily-named transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) protocol was unveiled by Brazilian researchers in 2013, but sports companies and Silicon Valley have wasted no time in finding a lucrative use for the technology. Short jolts to the brain improve endurance and enhance performance, believers say. Administered prior to an activity — such as cycling through treacherous mountains in Italy — tDCS is purported to endow athletes with more-responsive brains. 

    Does it work? Sports scientists are divided over the treatment’s efficacy and even more split on the morality and fairness implications.

    Women are shaking up ultramarathons, OZY reports.