The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Mueller Declines to Clear Trump of Obstruction

    In his first public commentary since the release of his Russia report, special counsel Robert Mueller said his team did not determine whether President Donald Trump committed a crime — and added that Justice Department rules prevented him from filing charges, anyway. In doing so, Mueller hinted it was up to Congress, where Democrats are torn over whether to launch impeachment proceedings against Trump, to establish any wrongdoing. Trump, meanwhile, remained largely out of public view yesterday.

    What will Democrats do? They’re considering whether to subpoena the outgoing special counsel, who’s already said he doesn’t want to testify.

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    Israel Faces Election After Coalition Talks Fail

    Following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failure to cobble together a new right-wing ruling coalition ahead of a midnight deadline, lawmakers voted to dissolve Parliament. That means Israel will face general elections on Sept. 17 — the first time in the country’s history that voters will return to the ballot box because a prime minister failed to form a government.

    What’s next for Netanyahu? While he’ll remain in power at least until the elections, becoming Israel’s longest-serving prime minister in the process, he still faces charges in three different corruption cases.

    Don’t miss OZY’s Special Briefing on Israel’s recent elections.

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    Seven Dead After Tourist Boat Sinks in Budapest

    Hungarian police say they’ve launched a criminal probe into a collision last night between a sightseeing boat carrying 35 people and another vessel on the Danube River in central Budapest. Seven South Korean tourists have been confirmed dead and 21 people are missing after the double-decker ship sank amid strong currents intensified by heavy rain. 

    What’s the outlook for the rescue effort? While South Korean President Moon Jae-in ordered officials to muster whatever resources they could, emergency crews have warned the river could complicate their work by carrying any survivors far downstream.

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    Gulf Preps for Summits on Regional Tensions

    Ahead of emergency summits in Mecca this week, Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf called on Muslim nations to meet the recent attacks on Gulf oil assets — allegedly or openly by Iran-backed groups — “with all means of force and firmness.” Meanwhile, Qatar’s prime minister is expected to attend one of the get-togethers in the first high-profile meeting since Riyadh and its allies enforced a blockade against Doha two years ago.

    Why does it matter? The talks could serve to smooth out tensions over Qatar, and even position the small gas-rich state as a mutually acceptable mediator between Tehran and the U.S. and its allies.

  5. Also Important…

    The Taliban says it’s made progress in talks with Afghan officials in Moscow, but that more discussions are still needed. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa unveiled a new cabinet Wednesday in which half of all ministers are women — a historic first. And hospital officials in San Diego revealed yesterday that the world’s smallest surviving baby, who weighed 8.6 ounces at birth, has been released after five months of care.

    #OZYfact: The proportion of U.S. young adults identifying as something other than entirely gay or entirely straight went up 17 percent between 2015 and 2018. Read more on OZY

    OZY Fest is back! Join OZY in New York’s Central Park July 20-21, where some of the biggest names and boldest thinkers — from John Legend and Trevor Noah to Stacey Abrams and Malcolm Gladwell — will help make this year’s OZY Fest the most memorable yet. Click here to get your early bird tickets.


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    Social Snoop Says He IDed 100k Women on Porn Sites

    A Germany-based user of social platform Weibo is claiming that he’s successfully identified tens of thousands of women on adult websites by cross referencing social media photos and using facial recognition. He’s offered no evidence for his claim, but the idea has gone viral, with experts holding up the possibility as an example of potential legal and ethical problems with facial recognition technology. 

    What does the future hold? Both machine learning experts and feminist advocates warn that existing AI could be used to target and harass people. Another problematic technology: Deepfakes, where AI swaps unrelated faces onto porn performers’ bodies.

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    Surprise Unemployment Bump Stings Germany

    The number of Germans unemployed rose by 60,000 in May to 5 percent, the first spike in five years and a sharp contrast to the predicted decline of 8,000. While the Federal Labor Agency attributed 50,000 of the unemployed to a statistical reclassification, the change may also be tied to international trade concerns, including the U.S.-China standoff. Despite the rise, Germany still enjoys one of Europe’s lowest jobless rates.

    Is that a warning sign? Business confidence has fallen to its lowest level in four years, and some fear that economic woes in Germany could ripple across the European Union.

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    Ugandan Women Face Modern-Day Slavery

    Female migrant workers in Gulf states, typically hailing from Africa or South and Southeast Asia, have reported instances of abuse for years. But Ugandan women are now in a particularly precarious position, OZY reports. With droughts deepening poverty at home, women and girls  — some of whom are falsely promised jobs — are being sold at public markets, sometimes for as little as $14. Worse still, more than a dozen have died unnatural deaths in the Middle East over the past year.

    What’s being done about it? While law enforcement agencies say they’ve launched some investigative efforts, the Ugandan government’s shown few signs of cracking down.

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    New Zealand to Spend $1.2B on Mental Health

    The snake-free nation has unveiled its first-ever Wellbeing Budget, which also provides a massive infusion of cash for battling child poverty and reducing domestic violence. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the “game-changing” new funding proves that governments can “be both economically responsible and kind.” Overall, New Zealand is planning for $16.7 billion in new spending over the next four years.

    Will more money help? Experts say the new budget is an important step, but they’ve also raised questions over key logistics — such as the need to hire droves of new counselors and social workers.

    Read this OZY feature about how Tennessee is tackling its mental health problem.

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    Caster Semenya Appeals IAAF Ruling

    The South African runner and two-time Olympic champ, 28, has turned to Switzerland’s top court to challenge this month’s ruling requiring her to take hormone suppressants if she wants to compete as a woman in global events. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) successfully argued in a lower court that Semenya, who has heightened levels of testosterone, has an unfair natural advantage against competitors. Now the Swiss Federal Tribunal will consider whether that decision violated Semenya’s “fundamental human rights.”

    When will she run again? Semenya refuses to take testosterone-lowering drugs, meaning she’ll likely be barred from defending her 800-meter title at September’s world championships.

    Don’t miss OZY’s Newsmaker profile of Semenya.