The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Western Leaders: Iranian Missile Downed Plane

    Citing intelligence, Washington and its allies said an accidental missile strike by Iran appears to be the reason Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 crashed this week near Tehran, killing all 176 aboard. But Iranian officials have dismissed that explanation as "a big lie," demanding the U.S. and Canada release evidence to prove it. They've also invited the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and Boeing to help investigate the crash.

    What's next? Proof the 737-800 was shot down could turn public opinion in Iran against the government, especially given the simmering discontent over its crackdown on recent protests.

  2. Boeing Reveals 'Damning' Internal Documents

    The Chicago-based planemaker released a trove of internal communications yesterday detailing a disturbing amount of employee criticism directed at its embattled 737 Max. "This airplane is designed by clowns," one email read. The messages — the tone of which Boeing described as "completely unacceptable" — also revealed how the company pushed for less regulatory scrutiny and more aggressive cost-cutting measures.

    Is Boeing in deeper trouble now? The Federal Aviation Administration says the documents, while disturbing, don't raise new safety concerns.

    Don't miss OZY's Special Briefing on whether Boeing will ever soar again.

  3. House Seeks to Hamstring Trump on Iran

    In a 224-194 vote yesterday, the lower chamber approved a nonbinding resolution aimed at preventing President Donald Trump from taking further military action against Iran without consulting Congress. Amid the fallout of last week's killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. airstrike, the administration claims a 2002 authorization for use of military force in Iraq allowed it to target the top commander — a measure Speaker Nancy Pelosi said lawmakers would vote to repeal "soon."

    Does the resolution really matter? While Democrats say it's "the best way to send a message" against rushing into another war, Republicans argue it's a toothless measure that's "nothing more than a press release."

  4. UK's Harry, Meghan Plan Post-Royal Life

    "He’s very tortured." That description of Prince Harry’s attitude toward the media emerged as speculation swirled over how the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will navigate their post-royal life. Meghan has returned to Canada, while Buckingham Palace is struggling with how to handle the couple's surprise Wednesday announcement that they'll split their time between the U.K. and North America and pursue financial independence.

    What's the bigger picture? As OZY reports, the British press has gone easy on members of the royal family — yet without that protection, Harry and Meghan may find their new situation more difficult than they imagined.

  5. Also Important...

    In its monthly report today, the U.S. Labor Department is expected to show the economy added 160,000 jobs last month. Lebanon has imposed a travel ban on fugitive ex-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn. And spy novelist John le Carré has won the $100,000 Olof Palme prize for his "engaging and humanistic opinion-making" in the "fight for freedom, democracy and social justice."

    Try This: Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB Quiz.

    OZY is hiring! We’re looking for an ambitious, Washington-based political reporter to cover the 2020 presidential election — and beyond. Check out our jobs page and read the description here.


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    Footage of Epstein Suicide Attempt Destroyed

    Federal prosecutors said Thursday that Metropolitan Correctional Center officials kept the wrong video of Jeffrey Epstein's first suicide attempt in July 2019. His cellmate, a former police officer accused of murder, requested the footage, hoping it would lead to a reduced sentence by proving he “acted appropriately.” But the video that was preserved was of the wrong cell, while the Epstein footage was mistakenly deleted.

    What does the blunder mean? It'll likely fuel widespread conspiracies about the convicted child trafficker's death, even though a medical examiner concluded that he hanged himself.

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    Facebook Doubles Down on Political Ads

    The social media giant announced Thursday that it'll provide users with more control over the political ads they see — but it won't tweak its ad policy, which allows politicians to post manipulative or untrue messages with no fact-checking. While Google and Twitter have moved to limit political ads, Facebook advertisers will still be able to microtarget with messages tailored to a user's age, gender, job and location.

    What are critics saying? They claim it'll still be difficult and confusing to change Facebook’s default settings, which allow potentially unwanted political ads.

    Read OZY's take on why a political ad ban could backfire on the left.

  3. Could Conservation Be a Conservative Cause?

    As global temperatures reach record highs, the environmental movement has gone mainstream — and the political right wing is no exception. In the U.S. the Republican Party might be dragging its feet on the issue, this OZY writer argues, but the so-called EcoRight isn't waiting. While conservative environmentalists won't back the progressive-led Green New Deal, they favor finally ditching the climate change denial that's defined the GOP for years.

    What does a conservative solution look like? A carbon tax on big business aimed at slashing emissions appears to be an increasingly agreeable option.

  4. Bill Cosby Appeals Conviction, Blames #MeToo

    The disgraced comedian — convicted in 2018 of aggravated sexual assault — is appealing to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, arguing that the media climate robbed him of his presumption of innocence. His trial included testimony from five other women who said Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted them. He's now pushing for those testimonies to be retracted.

    Does his appeal stand a chance? That's unclear, since his bid was unanimously denied at the appellate level last month.

    Don't miss this OZY feature on whether #MeToo can take root in Africa.

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    Baylor Women Break UConn's 98-Game Streak

    With their stunning 74-58 victory in Hartford last night, the No. 6 Lady Bears snapped their top-ranked opponents' home winning stretch just one victory short of tying their own record. The upset is the second time in as many seasons that Baylor's broken a UConn streak, having ended the Huskies' 126-game regular-season run last year. "Streaks are made to be broken," said Lady Bears coach Kim Mulkey.

    How did Baylor look? Teá Cooper led the defending champs with 27 points while Nalyssa Smith and Lauren Cox took control in the fourth quarter to secure the win.