The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Ethiopian Plane Crash Sparks Grief, Questions

    Investigators haven’t yet determined what sent an Ethiopian Airlines flight plunging to the ground Sunday, killing all 157 aboard. But the tragedy has already raised questions about the Boeing 737 Max 8 — the same plane involved in last October’s Lion Air crash in Indonesia. Just like that doomed journey, yesterday’s flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi crashed shortly after takeoff. Both Ethiopia and China have grounded all their 737 Max jets in response.

    What do we know about the Max 8? Boeing has sold more than 350 of the newest model of its single-aisle airliner, its best-selling jet ever, since 2017.

    Read OZY’s Flashback about the plane crash that shook South Africa.

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    Indonesian Suspect in Kim Jong Nam Murder Freed

    Malaysian authorities have dropped a murder charge against Siti Aisyah, the 27-year-old woman accused of killing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s half-brother in the Kuala Lumpur airport in 2017. The country’s attorney general reportedly said good relations between Indonesia and Malaysia were partially responsible for the decision. Vietnamese suspect Doan Thi Huong remains behind bars, but both maintain they’re innocent.

    Who was Kim Jong Nam? Once considered a potential future leader of North Korea, Kim became estranged from the family and publicly spoke out against the dynasty while living abroad.

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    Reports: Trump Will Seek New Border Funding

    He’s on a budget. When he unveils his 2020 federal spending plan today, President Donald Trump is expected to request $8.6 billion for new barriers along the southern border while proposing a $2.7 trillion cut in nondefense spending over the next 10 years. Democrats and reportedly even some Republicans expressed skepticism Sunday over his plan.

    What’s the next step? Democrats say the president’s budget has “no chance in the House,” suggesting there may be another shutdown fight before the Oct. 1 deadline to agree on funding.

    Don’t miss OZY’s latest Donald Dossier on the probe into Trump’s kids.

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    US-Backed Forces Continue Final Push in Syria

    The Syrian Democratic Forces have mounted another assault on the village of Baghouz in eastern Syria — the last ISIS holdout in that country. Yesterday, an SDF spokesman tweeted that the U.S.-backed militia is prepared to “finish what is left in ISIS hands.” Sunday’s attack reportedly involved airstrikes on the group’s weapons depots.

    How long will this offensive continue? Observers say the SDF has taken “an incremental approach” to liberating Baghouz in order to allow civilians to flee and ISIS supporters to surrender.

    Check out this OZY opinion piece on why Syria remains a tinderbox.

  5. Also Important…

    Venezuelans are growing increasingly worried after a widespread blackout there entered its fourth day yesterday. Tesla has announced that it’ll boost the prices of its higher-end electric cars by around 3 percent in order to keep more retail locations open. And a jaguar attacked a woman who attempted to snap a selfie with the creature at an Arizona zoo.

    #OZYfact: Oyster leaf grows along rocky Northern coasts in Scotland, Canada and Scandinavia — but has slowly made its way to the wider world. Read more on OZY.

    We’re listening! OZY’s launching a series about love stories — and we want to hear yours. If you’ve found yourself in an unconventional or intriguing romantic situation, send an email to and tell us all about it!


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    Canada’s Churches Are Disappearing

    Can they keep the faith? A Canadian building preservation group estimates that 9,000 religious spaces will be closed, sold or demolished during the next decade — representing around one-third of the country’s houses of worship. “It is going to hit everybody,” said a project leader from National Trust for Canada, which says the loss would impact the cultural fabric of communities.

    Why the downward trend? Observers say depopulation in rural areas and increasing secularization in cities are drawing members away from church.

    Check out OZY’s feature on the political clash over Ukraine’s churches.

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    Russians Rally Against Internet Restrictions

    Chanting slogans like “Hands off the internet” and “No to isolation,” thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Moscow yesterday to decry a new bill they believe will tighten state control over the web. Supporters say the measure would create a “sovereign internet” free from foreign cyberthreats, but activists claim it’s part of an ongoing crackdown on opposition politics.

    Is the internet politicized in Russia? Sites like YouTube — visited by 82 percent of 18- to 44-year-old Russians — have become an increasingly important rallying point for opposition activists, especially while traditional media tends to toe the state line.

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    Thailand Is Gripped by Massive Inequality

    Lurking behind the country’s sunny beaches is a disturbing reality: According to one recent analysis, the top 1 percent of Thailand’s population owns a staggering 67 percent of its wealth, OZY reports, making it the most unequal country in the world. Experts say the disparity is rooted in an export-fueled economic boom beginning in the 1990s that funneled the benefits straight to cities, leaving the rural poor to struggle.

    What’s the government doing about it? Facing an election this month — the first since a 2014 coup — the ruling military junta was quick to dispute that statistic, while opposition groups say the problem is only getting worse.

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    A Third Alleged R. Kelly Tape Surfaces

    A Pennsylvania man, now working with high-profile attorney Gloria Allred, said he found the footage while clearing out an old box of VHS tapes. Gary Dennis said the video appeared to show the R&B star “sexually abusing underage African-American girls.” Dennis says he has no connection to Kelly and does not know how the tape ended up in his possession. Allred has reportedly given it to the authorities.

    What legal consequences is Kelly facing? Prosecutors charged him last month with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four victims — three of whom were under 17.

    Read this OZY True Story about staring down a sexual assault.

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    US Cyclist Kelly Catlin Dies at 23

    The Olympic silver medalist, who won three consecutive world titles with the U.S. women’s cycling team, committed suicide Friday, according to her father. In addition to professional road and track cycling, Catlin was a computational mathematics graduate student at Stanford. She recently wrote that her busy schedule made her feel like she needed “to time-travel to get everything done.” She added, “The truth is that most of the time, I don’t make everything work.”

    Are U.S. suicides on the rise? It appears so: In 2017, the rate rose to 14.5 deaths per 100,000 — a 4 percent increase.