The Presidential Daily Brief


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    North Korea Releases Three American Prisoners

    North Korea has released three U.S. prisoners, President Donald Trump announced today, tweeting, “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the air and on his way back from North Korea with the 3 wonderful gentlemen that everyone is looking so forward to meeting.” The three detainees, Kim Dong Dhui, Kim Hak-song and Kim Sang Duk, appear to be in good health, the president added. Pompeo has also worked out a date and place for Trump’s upcoming summit with Hermit Kingdom leader Kim Jong Un, but the tweet did not specify what those were.

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    Malaysian Opposition Wins First Time Since Independence

    The 92-year-old former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad will become the oldest elected leader in the world after his party and allies beat the ruling coalition in power since independence from Britain in 1957. Mahatir had come out of retirement to run again his former protege Prime Minister Najib Razak who was rocked by corruption scandals including accusations of pocketing some $700 million from a state investment fund. Supporters of Mahathir’s coalition filled the streets of Kuala Lumpur to celebrate. The new government is expected to be sworn in later this week.

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    Israel Responds After Shelling From Iranian Forces in Syria

    Israel launched one its heaviest airstikes in Syria since the start of the war after Iranian forces shelled their army bases in the Golan Heights. It’s the first time that Iran has attacked Israel directly from Syria. Israel reported no casualties on their side while Syrian media said a radar station and air defense positions were hit in Syria. Iran had promised retaliation after a Israeli stike killed seven of it’s forces last month in Syria. “This event is not over,” said an Isreali army spokesperson.

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    Trump Defies World Leaders With Exit From Iran Deal

    Now what? That’s what President Donald Trump’s European allies are asking themselves after his announcement yesterday that the U.S. is withdrawing from the nuclear agreement with Iran, which Trump derided as “a horrible, one-sided deal.” After the president pledged to reimpose tough economic sanctions on Tehran, the leaders of the U.K., France and Germany expressed “regret and concern” in a joint statement. Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani suggested his country would seek to save the deal by negotiating separately with its European, Russian and Chinese signatories.

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    Michael Cohen Received Payments From Russia-Linked Firm

    Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels, claims that the shell company that President Trump’s personal attorney used to pay Daniels $130,000 in hush money also received payments last year from sanctioned Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. Avenatti posted a document on Twitter alleging Cohen’s company, Essential Consultants, received around $500,000 from Columbus Nova, a U.S. investment firm linked to Vekselberg, who has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. A New York Times investigation corroborated Avenatti’s disclosure, while Columbus Nova confirmed it hired Cohen but denied Vekselberg’s role.

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    Oil Prices Jump After US Reneges on Iran Pact

    The big news is good business. At least that’s the case for oil producers after global prices for the commodity rose to their highest levels since 2014. Analysts say President Trump’s controversial decision to reimpose economic sanctions on Iran — which became a major crude exporter after sanctions were lifted two years ago — could significantly cut Tehran’s export capacity. They also believe Washington’s confrontational policy toward Iran risks stoking broader tensions in the Middle East, which could further force oil prices upward.

  7. Torture Questions, Iranian Umbrage and Angry Subway Riders

    Know This: The Senate Intelligence Committee is questioning CIA director nominee Gina Haspel, with testimony expected to focus on her role in since-outlawed torturing of terrorism suspects. Shouting “Death to America,” lawmakers in Iran burned a paper U.S. flag in Parliament Wednesday in response to President Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal.  And Doug Ford, the leading candidate for the premiership of Ontario, has admitted that actors were paid to attend a recent debate, but denied his campaign’s involvement.

    Read This: Fielding angry tweets from New York City’s subway riders isn’t easy — but someone’s got to do it. Meet the people behind the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Twitter accounts.

    Talk to Us: This year, OZY is going Around the World on a year-long tour to visit every single country, and we’d love for you to get involved. Where in the world are you when you read OZY? Send us pictures — they might make it onto — and tell us what rising stars, new trends, music and food we should be writing about. Or even pitch us a story! Get in touch at


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    Travelers Help Revive the ‘Capital of the Arctic’

    More investment in Arctic Norway has meant better facilities for adventurous travelers and environmental researchers streaming through Tromsø, the region’s gateway. It’s also delivered the city of 75,000 from socioeconomic malaise. A hot spot for whale-watching, Tromsø is easily accessible by sea or air, and its new role as a local travel hub has contributed to a cultural renaissance of sorts. Now, the so-called “capital of the Arctic” must adapt to manage its growth — though the resilience of its locals means that won’t be too difficult.

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    Google Unveils New Advances to Assistant

    Use your words. The digital helper, positioned as a rival to Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, will boast six more voice options, including singer John Legend’s. Google also debuted Duplex, a feature that lets Assistant make phone calls to schedule appointments (or call the landlord about that past-due rent check) using natural-language improvements — like “um” pauses — to sound more convincingly human. Another advance demonstrated on Tuesday at the company’s annual developer conference was an algorithm to teach kids manners, sparking jokes that Assistant might also give them “The Talk.”

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    South Georgia Island Declares Victory Over Invasive Rodents

    They’ve sniffed them out. The remote uninhabited island in the southern Atlantic Ocean had suffered from an infestation of rats and mice, linked to the 18th century arrival of sealing and whaling ships, which threatened the native bird population. But after the world’s largest rodent eradication project — some 330 tons of poisoned bait were dispensed across the island from helicopters over several years — the area has been declared pest-free. Next, researchers will survey bird life on the island, which has reportedly exploded since the death of their predators.

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    Cannes Film Festival Opens With Red Carpet Selfie Ban

    Move along, please. Guests arriving to one of the world’s leading movie events on Tuesday were welcomed by a big red sign warning them against taking selfies or other photos on the red carpet. Eagle-eyed security guards monitored the area for infractions — a move which reportedly dampened the otherwise festive atmosphere. Meanwhile, Palme d’Or jury president Cate Blanchett was praised for gracefully fielding tough questions on gender issues and the #MeToo movement, admitting that positive change for women in the industry is coming, but won’t “happen overnight.”

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    USA Taekwondo Faces Class-Action Sex Abuse Lawsuit

    The suit, filed Friday, alleges that the U.S. Olympic Committee ignored dozens of complaints against taekwondo champions Jean and Steven Lopez. The brothers have been accused by 48 women, including minors, of rape and sexual assault dating back to 1996. Jean, the Team USA coach, has already been banned from the sport, while Steven — a five-time world champion — has been temporarily suspended pending investigation. The USOC was sued in February over its handling of complaints against disgraced gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, and has promised to reform.