The Presidential Daily Brief


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    US Blames Iran for Tanker Strikes. Is Retaliation Next?

    American officials on Thursday presented a video they say is proof of “unprovoked attacks” by Iran against two tankers damaged by explosions in the Gulf of Oman yesterday. The blasts prompted the ships’ crews to evacuate and left one burning, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cited intelligence agencies’ assessments that Iran was responsible for both attacks. Iran responded by accusing America of “warmongering” and spreading disinformation.

    Does this mean war? The situation has been compared to the Gulf of Tonkin incident that escalated the Vietnam War, as bellicose rhetoric has risen in volume ever since Washington sent warships and bombers to the region last month.

    OZY security analyst John McLaughlin critiques U.S. Iran strategy.

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    Trump’s ‘Warrior,’ Sarah Sanders, to Exit White House

    After negotiating one of Washington’s most difficult jobs — conveying a mercurial president’s mind and moods to the press — Sanders is calling it quits at the end of June. President Donald Trump tweeted farewell to his “wonderful” press secretary, saying she’d “done an incredible job” and suggesting she should run for governor in her home state of Arkansas. Sanders, who only held two briefings in 2019, described the job as something she’d “treasure forever.”

    Why quit now? Fox News’ Neil Cavuto speculated that the timing coincides with fallout from Trump’s interview with George Stephanopoulos, in which the president indicated that he’d take campaign dirt from a foreign government.

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    New Zealand Massacre Defendant Pleads Not Guilty

    Australian national Brenton Tarrant, 28, pleaded not guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and committing a terrorist act in the March mosque massacre in Christchurch. The plea, delivered by his attorney, upset many in the Christchurch High Court, which was filled with dozens of victims’ loved ones. A son of one victim wasn’t surprised, saying the defendant wanted to “play with the families’ lives.”

    When will it be over? Tarrant’s trial is scheduled for May 2020 and could last up to three months, although prosecutors hope it will take as little as six weeks.

    OZY reports on how the massacre played out.

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    Big Business Urges End to Trade War

    Target, Walmart and Costco are among more than 600 signatories to a letter urging President Trump to end the trade war with China. They say they support Trump’s effort to “address unfair trading practices,” but U.S. businesses and consumers end up paying for tariffs. The letter warns, “An escalated trade war is not in the country’s best interest, and both sides will lose.”

    Will the letter work? The push, led by business coalition Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, comes as the U.S. trade representative plans to hold public hearings Monday on the next tariff volley, and ahead of a possible meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit June 28-29.

  5. Also Important…

    The White House is pushing back against a government watchdog’s call for senior adviser Kellyanne Conway to be fired for repeatedly violating federal law by making political comments. Hong Kong activists are planning another mass rally Sunday to protest a proposed law that would allow suspects to be extradited to mainland China. And an Argentinian man has been reunited with his biological family four decades after his parents were “disappeared” by the country’s military dictatorship.

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

    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 for tickets.


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    Toronto Beats Golden State for First NBA Title

    The Warriors, weakened by injuries to stars Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, fell 114-110 to the aggressive Raptors last night in the decisive Game 6. Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam led Toronto with 26 points apiece, rallying behind team superstar and Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who clinched the only Canadian NBA team’s first Larry O’Brien Trophy in the final second of the game.

    Where does this leave the former champs? Soon-to-be free agent Durant, who underwent Achilles tendon surgery yesterday after rupturing it in Game 5, will likely need to skip next season, so lots of dream rosters are being rearranged.

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    New York Ends Religious Vaccination Exemptions

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the waiver out of the state’s vaccination law, abolishing a loophole that allowed parents to not vaccinate their children — a requirement for entering school — on religious grounds. He said that while he respects religious freedom, the public health risk is too large to ignore. Since September, New York state has recorded 854 measles cases, particularly in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, where some parents believe vaccines violate Jewish law.

    Where else is this changing? Celebrities like actress Jessica Biel have come out against legislation in California, also hit hard by measles, that would tighten the rules for medical exemptions.

    Read OZY’s Special Briefing on religious freedoms.

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    How Music Festivals Are Becoming Delicious

    Music and arts festivals are finding that dining options shouldn’t be an afterthought. Food and beverage fests by themselves grew 26 percent last year, according to Eventbrite, and in a recent survey more than half of Americans now consider themselves foodies. Savvy curators at events like Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza have set aside state fair fare for much more exotic eats, from kelp to goat to rolled ice cream.

    What’s the downside? Palate-pleasers don’t come cheap, and festival ticket prices have risen like organic, gluten-free dough. Plus it’s not all healthy, with doughnuts and bacon-based dishes all the rage.

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    Two British Newspapers May Face Probe Over Saudi Links

    U.K. Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright is considering a government investigation into The Independent and The Evening Standard over concerns about bias after Saudi investor Sultan Muhammad Abuljadayel bought substantial stakes in both papers. Abuljadayel has “strong links” to Saudi Arabia’s state-owned Al Ahli bank. The Independent has launched several foreign language sites run by a Saudi publisher, fueling concerns about editorial independence.

    What are the financial implications? A probe would particularly hurt the Standard, which has struggled with ad revenue and recently announced job cuts. A decision is expected by the end of June.

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    Tyson Foods Enters Meatless Battle With Faux Nuggets

    It’s a $1 billion game of chicken — well, something that tastes like chicken. Faced with the rapid growth of the vegetarian “meat” industry, American poultry giant Tyson Foods has launched Raised & Rooted, a brand of meatless and meat-infused products. The line includes entirely fake “chicken” nuggets as well as burgers that are mostly vegetable protein, but include some beef. It claims the burgers have “fewer calories and less saturated fat” than their fake-meat competitors.

    Why now? Fake meat purveyor Beyond Meat went public in May, valued at $1 billion, and since then its stock price has increased fivefold, indicating that investors are bullish on no-bull products.

    Read this OZY feature on the new millennial diet.