The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. russian power grid operators st petersburg shutterstock 487127041

    Report: Pentagon Hackers Targeted Russia’s Power Grid

    The New York Times reported Saturday that Washington has gone on the cyber-offensive against Moscow, planting software enabling potential disruptions of Russian electric power systems. The report follows Tuesday’s declaration by John Bolton, the president’s national security adviser, that America is expanding digital targeting to warn Russia and other cyber-aggressors, “you will pay a price.”

    Did President Donald Trump OK this? He called the Times story “NOT TRUE” and a “virtual act of treason.” It says he authorized the offensive digital operations, and Trump recently said “you can believe” a February account of a U.S. cyber-attack that disabled a Russian troll factory to protect 2018 midterm elections.

  2. hong kong extradition protest bridge shutterstock 1424222204

    Hong Kong Protesters Return, Demanding Leader’s Ouster

    Two days after Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam indefinitely suspended a proposed extradition law that potentially allowed China’s central government to arrest people in its semi-autonomous territory, protests resumed today. Thousands of demonstrators are now calling for Lam’s removal and the permanent withdrawal of the extradition bill. 

    Where is this headed? Since Britain handed over its colony to mainland China in 1997, citizens haven’t directly elected their leaders, but they’ve enjoyed freedom of expression and assembly — using those rights to protect the city’s autonomy. The current struggle is seen as holding the line against Beijing’s increasing influence.

    Check out OZY’s profile of Carrie Lam.

  3. Oman gulf tanker pompeo vidcap us state department

    Trump Blames ‘Nation of Terror’ Iran for Tanker Blasts

    On Thursday, two oil tankers bound for Asia from the Persian Gulf were crippled by explosions in the Gulf of Oman. After that, the facts aren’t so certain, with America offering a video it says shows Iranians removing a probable limpet mine from the side of one tanker to conceal evidence of their involvement. “You know they did it because you saw the boat,” insisted President Trump. Media reports also indicate Iran may have detained crew members. 

    Why is this significant? Many see it as an escalation of tensions between Tehran and Washington, including European nations that have called for restraint, fearing military action could follow.

  4. filmmaker franco zeffirelli wikimedia commons

    ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Director Franco Zeffirelli Dies at Age 96

    Generations of 20th Century schoolchildren no doubt picture the Florentine auteur’s 1968 Oscar nominee when they think of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers. Franco Zeffirelli, who died Saturday at home in Rome, also directed Mel Gibson as Hamlet and dramatized St. Francis of Assisi in Brother Sun, Sister Moon.  A closeted gay man who became an ultraconservative Italian senator late in life, Zeffirelli was the illegitimate son of a fashion designer and drew from his wartime youth in 1999’s Tea With Mussolini.

    What else was he known for? Over four decades, he directed numerous popular operas — criticized for their extravagance — at New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

  5. donald trump campaigning shutterstock 386608537

    Trump to Launch 2020 Campaign Tuesday

    Four years after his now-famous entrance down a Trump Tower escalator, President Trump will do it again Tuesday in Orlando, Florida: launch his 2020 presidential campaign. But nobody thinks it’s a lark, and Democrats plan a rebuttal.

    What’s different this time? Details large and small, reportedly including an obsessive eye on branding, with tight controls on things like type fonts and images. What it won’t get, Trump said Friday, walking back a Wednesday statement, is “inaccurate” campaign dirt from other nations without notifying the FBI.

    Read this OZY op-ed about Trump’s reelection chances.

  6. refugee shutterstock 347894915

    The Unthinkable Refugee Camps of the Future

    With no end in sight to the stream of refugees from crisis-torn countries to the developed world, few governments have found tolerable solutions to manage the influx. But political scientist Eric Kaufmann believes he has an answer: welcome every single newcomer, but keep them in closed camps as refugees, not as permanent settlers. Though controversial, Kaufmann argues that separating new arrivals from the host society would boost broader acceptance while also better guaranteeing their safety and security.

    Will the idea take off? Walled-off camps seem unlikely for now — but could gain greater currency if crises around the globe continue rearranging the world’s population.

  7. morocco desert shutterstock 211854958

    One Moroccan Oasis Shows the World What’s Coming

    Halim Sbai’s family has a long connection with their local oasis in southern Morocco. His ancestors once fended off French colonizers, and now he faces a global foe in climate change. His town of M’Hamid El Ghizlane is undergoing the rapid destruction the rest of the world can expect as climate change deepens. Water is drying up, and Morocco’s farmers — nearly 40 percent of the country’s labor force — are feeling the stress.

    How will Morocco survive? The country is developing renewable energy, but impact is minimal compared to rich nations’ CO2 output. Meanwhile, around 36 percent of Moroccans are considering a new life abroad.

  8. Also Important…

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, has admitted to misusing state funds and has agreed to pay a $15,000 fine. Authorities in the Dominican Republic are investigating whether a spate of mysterious U.S. tourists’ deaths may be linked to antifreeze-laced bootleg liquor. And cash registers at U.S. Target stores are working again after an “internal technology issue” shut them down yesterday, causing long checkout lines nationwide.

    In the week ahead: With two top candidates disqualified and one arrested in the U.S. in a drug investigation, Guatemala holds presidential elections today. The military trial of of Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher, accused of murdering a young militant detainee in Iraq, will begin Monday in San Diego. And on Wednesday, the embattled U.S. Federal Reserve board is expected to issue a statement that it’s amenable to an interest rate cut this year. 

    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.


  1. hacking shutterstock 356278754

    Want to Learn How Online Trolls Work? Buy One

    With social media disinformation now seemingly a staple of global politics, Alphabet-owned Jigsaw decided last year to find out how accessible such campaigns really are. The firm found that a cool $250 buys more than 700 Russian-language tweets from two dozen Twitter accounts attacking — in this case — an anti-Stalin civic group, proving just how disturbingly low the entry barrier is.

    But did Jigsaw cross the line? Critics weren’t crazy about the experiment, suggesting the negative effects of stirring the political pot may have outweighed the benefit.

    Read OZY’s feature on how governments are fighting fake news.

  2. senator mike johnston

    Does This Centrist Democrat Have a Chance in 2020?

    Mike Johnston had his work cut out for him when he was appointed to a Colorado Senate seat in 2009. His constituents were mostly poor, Black and Hispanic, and he was a privileged White man from the ski resort town of Vail. Despite the odd drive-by outside his office, Johnston introduced charter schools to educate kids and reduce crime. Now, the Harvard and Yale grad is running for the U.S. Senate, where he hopes to unseat Republican Cory Gardner.

    Does he have a chance? Now 44, Johnston is leading nine would-be Democratic challengers and has raised more money — drawing comparisons to presidential hopeful Joe Biden. 

  3. crusader stained glass shutterstock 122932558

    Whose Crusades Were They, Anyway?

    Since the rise of post-9/11 Islamophobia, the Crusades have enjoyed a renaissance. But it’s not the carefully researched historical series of medieval military campaigns and the occupation of the Holy Land that are going viral. Social media has seen a proliferation of fanciful nostalgia, especially among far-right history buffs, for a time when Christians vanquished marauding Muslims with divine help, writes Christopher Tyerman in a new book, The World of the Crusades.

    What’s different about his version? For starters, Europe of the Middle Ages was home to a great many Muslims, so the divide wasn’t as stark as many believe, and the campaigns were more political than religious.

  4. whale shutterstock 548729362

    Death of a Whale Promises Rare Scientific Insight

    After a 40-ton whale was found dead in the waters off Cape Cod, a team of scientists from Boston University raced to study the fresh carcass of Vector, a female humpback they’d been tracking since 1984. Among the organs extracted were its ears, needed to understand how and what the leviathans hear.  

    What do the scientists hope to achieve? Whales use their sensitive hearing to navigate, so understanding their aural mechanics could enable scientists to send sound alerts to warn humpbacks of nearby danger — like sometimes fatal naval submarine detection sonar.

    Read OZY’s look at killer whales ranging into the Arctic.

  5. Team USA win shutterstock 300889232

    US Soccer’s Women Actually Win. Why Are Men Paid More?

    The side seems destined to win this month’s World Cup while simultaneously calling foul on the patriarchy. The team is suing U.S. Soccer, arguing that they’re attracting more revenue than male players, who are paid an approximate annual minimum of $50,000 while the women’s minimum is $16,538. U.S. Soccer says the jobs can’t be compared, they’re so different.

    Are they really? Absolutely. Since the women don’t lose as much as their male counterparts, they play more matches and bring home more trophies. Now players are waiting for a federal court in Los Angeles to set a trial date.

    OZY looks at Team USA’s odds in France.