The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Prince Andrew Steps Away from Public Duties

    Prince Andrew received permission from his mother Queen Elizabeth II to remove himself from royal duties. The announcement follows a backlash from a recent BBC interview that saw the Prince try to substantiate the extent of his friendship with convicted sex offender and trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. Since the interview, several companies and charities have distanced themselves from the Duke.

    Is Prince Andrew regretful? He now says that he "deeply sympathizes" with Epstein's victims. The statement comes after the Duke was heavily criticized for failing to express any concern for the victims during his BBC interview on Saturday night.

  2. White House Insiders Pipe Up in Impeachment Probe

    "I couldn’t believe what I was hearing." That's what Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the U.S. National Security Council's top Ukraine expert, told congressional investigators yesterday about President Donald Trump's July 25 phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart. Vindman's concern over Trump's "improper" demand for political favors from Kyiv was matched by two other administration officials who testified yesterday.

    Who's next? U.S. envoy to the EU Gordon Sondland, a central figure in Trump's alleged pressure campaign, will offer his own highly anticipated testimony today — and, as OZY reports, could become the GOP's sacrificial lamb.

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    Israel Strikes Iranian Targets Inside Syria

    At least 11 people are believed to have been killed after the Israeli military struck dozens of Iranian targets in and around Damascus and Syrian-controlled parts of the Golan Heights early today. Syrian regime assets were also hit in the barrage, which came in response to rocket fire on Israeli-controlled areas of the Golan a day earlier. "You are no longer immune," Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett told Iran following the strikes.

    Why the fresh tensions? Combined with Israel's recent targeting of Palestinian militant leaders, observers say these strikes show Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is posturing as he fights for political survival at home.

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    UK's Johnson, Corbyn Face Off in First Debate

    With a general election less than a month away, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn went head-to-head on TV last night. While Corbyn pledged his Labour Party would provide the public with a greater say in the country's withdrawal from the European Union, Johnson claimed that would only lead to "division and deadlock." Also in question were the fate of British health care and Scotland's future as part of the United Kingdom.

    Who got the upper hand? While a snap poll suggested a tie in public opinion, split along party lines, questions from the audience revealed a deep sense of distrust toward both candidates.

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    Alibaba Preps for This Year's Biggest Listing

    The Chinese e-commerce giant will reportedly price its shares for institutional investors at $22.48 when it begins trading in Hong Kong next week. The secondary listing is expected to raise up to $12.9 billion — which is likely to be eclipsed by Saudi Aramco's anticipated December initial public offering. Sources say investor demand for Alibaba shares has been strong.

    Why does it matter? The listing could provide Hong Kong a critical financial and moral boost during a time when popular protests have deeply damaged its image of stability.

    Check out this OZY feature about why Chinese startups are so hopeful.

  6. Also Important...

    Amnesty International says at least 106 Iranians were killed in recent clashes between protesters and police over rising fuel prices. Talks between the U.S. and South Korea over the cost of stationing American troops there ended abruptly yesterday. And Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has officially become his country's longest-serving prime minister.

    #OZYfact: Americans read twice as much poetry in 2017 as in 2012. Read more on OZY.

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    Rodrigo Duterte's Latest Target? Vaping

    Vowing yesterday to ban the use and importation of e-cigarettes, the Philippine president also threatened to arrest anyone caught vaping. His announcement follows the country's first case of a vape-associated lung injury — involving a 16-year-old girl, who was hospitalized last week — similar to those seen in recent months in the United States.

    How serious is he? The famously feisty Duterte, a former smoker, already banned smoking in public places by executive order in 2017, saying cigarette users "should be exterminated."

    OZY asks: Are e-cigarettes living on borrowed time?

  2. Canada's Railroad Workers Walk Off the Job

    Minutes after midnight, more than 3,000 Canadian National Railway workers went on strike for better working conditions, effectively shutting down the country’s largest train network until a new employment agreement is reached. In the lead-up to the strike, CN began closing some operations to avoid having loaded trains languish in storage or stuck on the tracks.

    Who will the walkout hurt? It could spark layoffs and hit revenue in several industries including oil, mining and grain — 90 percent of which travels by rail.

    Read OZY's story about why Europe is reviving night trains.

  3. Could Hezbollah Hemorrhage Supporters in Lebanon?

    Since entering Lebanon's government in 2005, the powerful Shiite militia managed to preserve its brand as the "Party of the Oppressed." But its carefully constructed image suffered a major blow last month when mobs of supporters attacked protesters in Beirut. These days, OZY reports, Hezbollah risks losing broader backing by opposing the popular uprising — as it's already done elsewhere in the Middle East, such as Syria — while the group prioritizes strategic goals over public interests.

    Is Hezbollah changing its strategy? While defending its support for the government, the group has also realized the need to strike a more conciliatory tone to avoid agitating more of its base.

  4. Your Favorite 'Friends' Props Will Be Auctioned Off

    To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the beloved sitcom, Warner Bros. plans to sell reproductions and original props, costumes and other production materials from all 10 seasons. If Ross' Holiday Armadillo costume goes for a predicted $15,000, how much might Joey's Hugsy penguin reap? The auction will run from Dec. 3 through Dec. 17.

    Who benefits from the sale? Proceeds from selling more than 100 items will go to the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth.

    Read this OZY feature about how Black LGBTQ women beat depression.

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    Antonio Brown Says Sorry for 'Drama'

    The controversial wide receiver posted the mea culpa online Tuesday with a photo of him embracing New England Patriots QB Tom Brady. Released Sept. 7 by the Pats after just 11 days, Brown — who's facing allegations of sexual assault — directed the apology for "the bad media and the drama" at team owner Robert Kraft. It's a dramatic reversal from Brown's previous vows to fight the team for a $9 million signing bonus.

    What's Brown's incentive? Some observers suspect that the former All-Pro wants a second chance with the squad.