The Presidential Daily Brief


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    US-China Trade War Begins in Earnest, Could Last Years

    At midnight, 25 percent U.S. tariffs on more than 800 Chinese products went into effect, as did China’s corresponding duties on 545 American-made goods. Rather than backing away from what’s now considered a full-blown trade war, President Donald Trump threatened to target all Chinese imports, amounting to $500 billion worth of products per year. Meanwhile, retaliatory tariffs from China and the EU are directly targeting industries that support Trump, like farming, which could dampen enthusiasm for his trade policy in the heartland as midterm elections approach.

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    EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Resigns After Scandal-Ridden Tenure

    President Trump tweeted yesterday that he’d accepted the resignation of Pruitt, whose list of controversial moves includes allegedly using government funds to purchase a $43,000 soundproof phone booth, enlisting an official aide to help his wife get permission to open a Chick-fil-A restaurant, and sidelining EPA personnel who defied him. The former Oklahoma attorney general is the subject of 13 federal investigations. OZY’s Daniel Malloy writes that interim chief Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, may not be any kinder to the environment than his predecessor.

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    Former Thai Navy SEAL Dies During Cave Mission

    As oxygen levels drop in the flooded cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped for nearly two weeks, rescuers are delivering emergency oxygen tanks by diving through floodwaters. But last night a former Thai navy SEAL ran out of oxygen and died during his mission, highlighting the dangers of the rescue operation that’s mobilized over 1,000 people. His funeral will reportedly be sponsored by the Thai king. Rescuers continue to pump water out of the cave, hoping to allow the group to leave without diving equipment.

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    Japan Executes Cult Leader Responsible for Sarin Attack

    Shoko Asahara, leader of the doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo, was hanged this morning for masterminding a 1995 sarin nerve gas attack on Tokyo’s subway that left 13 dead and more than 6,000 ill. Six other cult members were also put to death, and six more await the punishment. Originally founded as a yoga school, Aum attracted tens of thousands of followers in Japan and Russia with an eclectic mix of Buddhist, Hindu and apocalyptic Christian teachings. The cult has disbanded, though several splinter groups remain.

  5. Small Families, Hungry Lions and the PDB Quiz

    Know This: As America’s birth rate dips, the most common reasons adults gave for not having as many children as they wanted were financial. Plans to fly a giant balloon depicting President Trump as a baby over London during his visit to the U.K. next week have been approved. At least two rhino poachers have been eaten by lions at a South African preserve. And today, OZY’s Around the World campaign takes you to Croatia: Find out why the country’s seen a boom in tourism from Game of Thrones fans.

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

    Watch This: Tune in tonight to PBS for Breaking Big, OZY’s latest TV show exploring the secret sauce behind successful people. Host Carlos Watson sits down with Jason Aldean to find out how he broke through, and broke big.


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    Trump Reportedly Gifting Kim Jong Un ‘Rocket Man’ CD

    It’s lonely out in space. South Korean media reported that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, while visiting Pyongyang, brought the North Korean leader a letter and a present from President Trump: a CD of Elton John’s Rocket Man, signed by Trump, referencing the president nicknaming Kim “Little Rocket Man” during a low point in their relationship. Kim reportedly told Trump he had never heard the song during their meeting last month, prompting the gift. Pompeo’s visit is an attempt to hold Kim to promises made during that summit.

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    Facebook Was Awash With Fake News About Mexican Election

    What did they know and when did they know it? Digital marketing firm Victory Lab boasted of using 4,000 fake local news pages to push misleading stories ahead of last weekend’s election, including negative stories about politicians — commissioned by their own campaigns — that were used to accuse opponents of foul play. But while Facebook reportedly knew about those activities, it waited months while a business partner produced a report on the company before deleting Victory Lab’s pages, raising questions about the social network’s commitment to battling fake news.

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    Spiders Use Electric Fields to ‘Fly’

    That spidey sense is tingling. New research published in Current Biology indicates that spiders largely use electricity to glide through air with their silk — a process known as “ballooning” where they can travel thousands of miles and sometimes reach heights of three miles above Earth. In the lab, spiders were able to ascend when electric fields were present but descended when they were turned off. Although wind plays a role, the new research explains how spiders soar in calm weather. Researchers hope the findings will help them study other ballooning insects.

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    TV Host and Political Commentator Ed Schultz Dies at 64

    The former MSNBC host and radio personality died of natural causes at home in Washington, D.C., yesterday. Schultz started as a sports broadcaster in Fargo, North Dakota, before hosting a conservative radio talk show in the 1990s. He later swung left as a progressive voice for MSNBC’s The Ed Show, and in 2016, Schultz joined RT America. Deflecting criticism of the Russian-owned network, he said, “I am going to speak the truth no matter what.” RT America’s editor remembered him as “an unconditional patriot of his country.”

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    Fourth OSU Wrestler Says Rep. Jim Jordan Knew of Abuse

    Another former Ohio State University wrestler has accused the congressman of knowing about alleged sexual abuse by team doctor Richard Strauss during Jordan’s time as an assistant coach. The athlete said Jordan was in the locker room when Strauss’ groping was discussed, though the congressman has denied any knowledge of the incident. Meanwhile, President Trump has come out in support of the Republican representative: “I don’t believe them at all. I believe him,” the president said aboard Air Force One. OSU opened an investigation into Strauss in April.