The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Beijing's Candidates for Hong Kong Councils Trounced

    After months of protests demanding a voice in their governance, Hong Kong residents took advantage of their freest and fairest kind of ballot, delivering an overwhelming victory for pro-democracy candidates in district council elections. It was progress, said one winner, "towards a situation where we can fight back." Of the first 241 seats announced, pro-Beijing parties won only 28. The streets of the semi-autonomous Chinese territory remained calm during voting, as activists urged.

    What does this mean? It could be bad news for the semi-autonomous Chinese territory's chief executive, Carrie Lam, as council members normally wield influence over filling her post.

  2. Navy Pushes Back on SEAL's Discipline

    Should "rules of war" be followed? That's the crux of a dispute between those who would remove Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher from the elite Navy SEALs commando force and President Donald Trump. He tweeted Thursday that the Navy "will NOT" drum out Gallagher, who was acquitted in the killing of an Islamic State prisoner, but convicted him of posing with the corpse. The Navy's top brass have reportedly argued against leniency.

    How might it be resolved? It's unclear, as Navy Secretary Richard Spencer denied reports he'd threatened to resign, but defended military discipline — which includes obeying the president.

  3. Russia Reemerges in Impeachment Saga

    Last week's impeachment drama shifted from Ukraine, concerning which Democrats believe President Donald Trump abused his power. On Friday, it emerged that the Justice Department's inspector general is to report on its probe of the Trump-Russia investigation, which Republicans charge was conducted illegally. But the IG's finding reportedly absolves top officials despite some underlings' mistakes.

    What else is coming? An associate of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani is reportedly willing to testify that the president's staunchest defender in House hearings, California Rep. Devin Nunes, was directly involved in the Ukraine influence campaign at the impeachment probe's center.

    Read OZY's profile of last week's key witness.

  4. Latin American Unrest Spreads to Colombia

    After antigovernment disturbances in Chile and election tampering protests that unseated the leader of neighboring Bolivia, the Colombian capital of Bogotá is under curfew. The city's mayor imposed the restriction after Friday protests and looting prompted by economic measures that include proposed changes to taxes, pensions and the minimum wage while privatizing state companies.

    What's the latest on Bolivia? Its new right-wing government has accused ousted socialist President Evo Morales of sedition and terrorism, based on a phone recording, which the exiled leader calls "fake," of him orchestrating demonstrations to paralyze the capital, La Paz.

  5. China

    Could There Be a Trade Turkey in the Oven?

    With both parties struggling to strike a deal and de-escalate looming tensions, China’s chief trade negotiator has invited his U.S. counterparts for a new round of face-to-face talks in Beijing before next Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday. It's an attempt to iron out disputes between the world’s two largest economies — differences weighing down global commerce.

    Are the Americans game? U.S. officials have hinted that they are but would not be willing to travel halfway around the planet unless China commits to protecting intellectual property, prohibiting forced technology transfers and increasing purchases of American agricultural products.

    OZY examines the trade war’s impact on Hollywood.

  6. Cables Expose CIA’s 1953 Iran Coup as a Failure

    The CIA has long taken credit for engineering the 1953 overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq. But the agency’s own cables, unveiled in 2017, reveal that the Americans tried to repair relations with Mosaddeq after failing to remove him, writes former United Nations official and author Darioush Bayandor. And even earlier, Iranian Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi and military officers in Tehran conspired to oust Mosaddeq with support from influential clerics.

    What about Iran's latest unrest? Tehran officials said Friday they'd arrested some 100 leaders of protests that started last weekend over a sudden fuel price increase.

  7. Also Important...

    Twenty-four people are reported dead after a small commercial plane crashed into houses in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Liberal U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is hospitalized with "chills and fever," but is expected to recover. And U.S. Attorney General William Barr said Friday that sex offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein's August death in a New York federal prison was the result of "a perfect storm of screw-ups."

    In the week ahead: Bulgaria's prime minister visits the White House on Monday. And on Tuesday, rock legend Tina Turner turns 80.

    Listen to The Future of X! OZY's newest podcast, in partnership with Smartsheet, fast-forwards 50 years to explore the industries and domains that will shape our world, starting with healthcare. Check it out here.


  1. Alphabet X Robots May Not Take Over

    Google parent Alphabet’s haphazard acquisition of robotics startups has come to this: Its literal androids in its Silicon Valley X project offices are separating recycling from other waste. The mundane task, a challenge for many humans, is aimed at fulfilling a vision of robots that “live among us and help us,” the project’s chief explains. Developers hope the machines learn one task and thus learn new tasks faster.

    Is this a bunch of garbage? It might be, according to some experts who say the concept hasn’t been proved, but nobody has tried it with so many robots at one time.

    OZY examines the future of AI.

  2. amazon package shutterstock 1262829832

    The Planetary Cost of Deliveries Is Skyrocketing

    In New York City, daily deliveries have exploded in a single decade from 360,000 to 1.5 million. A scooter delivery service in China dispatched 30 million food orders on one summer weekend. Our lives are easier, but at what cost? Nearly a third of waste in the United States derives from delivery packaging. All that cardboard requires 1 billion trees to manufacture it. And our demand continues to grow, driving Amazon and its competitors to stockpile items they expect you to buy.

    Is it just the trash? No. Society’s addiction to instant retail gratification is also taxing urban infrastructure, while Amazon annually pumps out 44.4 million tons of carbon dioxide.

  3. Marie Kondo Might Just Reclutter Your Home

    They’re supposed to “spark joy.” That’s the pitch behind home-organizing doyenne Marie Kondo’s latest commercial venture. On her website, which also touts books about the KonMari method of simplifying lives and getting rid of stuff, the Japanese phenom is selling more stuff. Ridicule has ensued. Among the 150 initial items is an air-purifying tuning fork and a clay cooking pot called a donabe.

    Does she deserve the flak? Kondo claims she isn’t encouraging acquiring anything redundant, and that before you buy, finish tidying — a caveat that could delay impulse purchases until the next betterment fad materializes.

    OZY examines Kondo comics.

  4. elon musk shutterstock 237385609

    Musk Mishaps Cloud Space, Shatter Glass

    He’s making them laugh, and cry. Elon Musk’s ventures, from the roadways to the heavens, created a stir this past week, but perhaps not as the futurist mogul had planned. When he unveiled Tesla’s pickup truck, its spaceship-inspired shape inspired oohs and aahs. It also prompted a few chuckles when a “shatterproof” window couldn’t withstand a steel ball chucked at it.

    Where else is Musk making waves? In observatories, where astronomers are finding their carefully scheduled observations obscured by a cluster of Musk’s 60 freshly launched Starlink satellites, intended to beam broadband to the world.

    Read OZY’s profile of the woman competing with Musk.

  5. Scouts Followed This NFL Draft Prospect’s Unique Path

    Alex Taylor is a rarity in the 2020 NFL draft: a 6-foot-9 lineman who moves like a hoops player — which he was quite recently. He's also unique, OZY reports, for transferring out of a Division I football program to South Carolina State, a historically Black and off-the-radar university. But Taylor wanted a culture fit that the overwhelmingly White Appalachian State lacked.

    Did that damage his prospects? Scouts don’t think so, praising Taylor’s expansive 311-pound frame and agility, while his lack of experience means he can be molded to suit a coach’s needs.