The Presidential Daily Brief

important

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    Tensions Spike in US-China Trade Tussle

    President Donald Trump’s top trade adviser accused China yesterday of reversing course on negotiations, raising fears that Washington’s economic showdown with Beijing is far from over. The “erosion in commitments by China,” as Robert Lighthizer described them, led Trump to announce that tariffs on a range of imports will increase from 10 percent to 25 percent on Friday.

    How is China responding? Beijing confirmed Tuesday that Vice Premier Liu He is heading to Washington this week — a sign, some analysts say, that President Xi Jinping is eager to resolve the dispute.

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    Myanmar Frees Jailed Reuters Journalists

    In a mass presidential amnesty of 6,520 prisoners, reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo walked out of prison today after spending more than 500 days behind bars. They were convicted of violating the country’s Official Secrets Act, though critics claim they were targeted for reporting on the military’s crackdown against Rohingya Muslims. “I can’t wait to go to my newsroom,” said Wa Lone.

    Could this ease international criticism of Myanmar? While watchdogs commended the government’s move, they also said media freedom remains restricted — a particularly pressing concern ahead of next year’s national election.

    Read OZY’s profile of the media mogul changing African broadcasting.

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    Legal Battle Looms Over Trump’s Taxes

    U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has rejected a request by congressional Democrats to release President Trump’s tax returns, saying in a one-page letter to the House Ways and Means Committee that it “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.” The move will probably lead to a drawn-out legal battle that could take months or even years to resolve in federal court.

    What’s next? Committee Chair Richard Neal said he’d “consult with counsel” about what to do, while the House Judiciary Committee could vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt tomorrow for failing to provide the unredacted Mueller report.

    OZY asks: Should rich people’s tax returns be made public?

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    Turkish Officials Order New Istanbul Vote

    The opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) is crying foul after Turkey’s electoral board overturned its recent success at the ballot box in Istanbul, where CHP member Ekrem Imamoglu was declared mayor last month. The March 31 race handed the CHP a narrow victory over President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party, which filed a complaint alleging “irregularities.” A new vote will be held June 23.

    Why does Istanbul matter? The country’s largest city is the powerhouse of an economy that’s currently in recession — as well as a potential bellwether for Erdoğan’s broader grip on power.

  5. Also Important…

    Qatar has announced that it’ll send $480 million in humanitarian and social aid to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The U.S. has begun to return to Malaysia some $200 million in seized assets from a corruption scheme involving the 1MDB state fund. And voters in Denver will decide today whether to decriminalize “magic mushrooms.”

    #OZYfact: The global cannabis market is expected to hit $80 billion in the next 11 years. Read more on OZY.

    We’re listening! OZY has launched 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 lovecuriously@ozy.com and tell us all about it!

intriguing

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    UN Report: 1 Million Species Face Extinction

    According to a comprehensive new study on biodiversity, one-eighth of Earth’s plant and animal species are at risk of disappearing, some within decades. Over 450 experts from 50 countries contributed the report, which found that humans, whose population has more than doubled since 1900, extract 60 billion tons of natural resources annually. One researcher warns we’re “eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”

    What can be done? Experts are pushing a “local to global” focus, saying issues like runoff and freshwater conservation are just as important as setting national-level climate goals.

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    Bank Workers’ Strike Halts Beirut’s Stock Exchange

    The market suspended operations Monday thanks to a strike by employees of Lebanon’s Central Bank that began over the weekend. Workers are protesting potential austerity measures that would significantly reduce their salaries and state benefits. But Prime Minister Saad Hariri has pledged to implement the measures in a bid to unlock an $11 billion loan to reduce the country’s sky-high national debt.

    What does the austerity bill include? Among other measures, it proposes cutting salaries for public officials by as much as 50 percent, as well as reducing pensions for retired military personnel.

    Check out this OZY story about Lebanon’s waste warriors.

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    Artificial Intelligence Keeps College Students in Class

    AI and predictive analytics tools are helping U.S. universities fight what once seemed like intractable problems, OZY reports. Concerns about registration, housing and financial aid — often significant hurdles for struggling students — could be addressed with just a few clicks. And predictive tools could identify students who need additional support, potentially helping to reverse declining graduation rates.

    How serious is the problem? Nearly half of U.S. college students don’t complete their degree in six years, while graduation rates for minorities, low-income learners and first-generation students are even lower.

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    Game Developers Stage Walkout Over Forced Arbitration

    More than 100 Riot Games employees walked out of work yesterday to protest the company’s attempt to force sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits into arbitration. This week, the studio behind League of Legends — home to a culture of sexism and harassment, according to a 2018 investigation — said it would allow new workers to opt out of forced arbitration. But staffers are demanding an end to the practice for all “past, current, and future Rioters.”

    Is this a trend in the tech world? Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Uber and Lyft have all either ended forced arbitration or have committed to doing so.

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    Tiger Woods Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom

    Calling Woods a “true legend,” President Trump honored the 43-year-old in the White House Rose Garden yesterday. Fresh off his Masters win, Woods is now on par with Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Charles Sifford, all of whom received the honor. The award acknowledges his comeback after a largely unsuccessful decade tainted by scandal and hampered by injuries.

    How does Woods stack up against the others? Presidents are free to choose who earns the country’s highest civilian honor — but when it comes to numbers, Woods trails Nicklaus by three major tournament wins.

    Read OZY’s feature about esports at the driving range.