The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Trump Pushes Unity in Independence Day Address

    Some of those worried that President Donald Trump would use yesterday’s Fourth of July celebration in Washington, D.C., as a campaign event may have been relieved: His “Salute to America” address focused on the country’s accomplishments and “truly extraordinary heritage.” His rain-streaked speech — the first Independence Day address by a president at the National Mall in nearly seven decades — also lavished praise on the military.

    How did critics respond? Some still slammed Trump for a display of military might that included tanks and jets, which one activist said “hijacked our national holiday and turned it into a celebration of him.”

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    UK Seizes Iranian Oil Tanker, Boosting Tensions

    London has descended into a diplomatic spat with Tehran after British Royal Marines impounded the Syria-bound vessel yesterday in Gibraltar. An Iranian official described the move — a first for Europe following a 2011 ban on oil shipments to the war-torn country — as “a form of piracy.” Meanwhile, U.S. national security advisor John Bolton called the seizure “excellent news.”

    Why does it matter? Some experts suggest that such a high-profile act is aimed at showing that Europe is serious about keeping Tehran in check as it struggles to keep the 2015 nuclear deal alive.

    Check out OZY’s Special Briefing on President Trump flexing his military muscle.

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    Sudanese Military, Opposition Reach Power-Sharing Deal

    An African Union mediator announced today that both sides have agreed to split control over a sovereign council that will rule Sudan for at least three years. The presidency of the 11-seat body will rotate between the Transitional Military Council and the alliance of opposition groups that helped force out ex-President Omar al-Bashir in April. The two camps also agreed to jointly investigate the violent clashes that left scores dead last month.

    Will the agreement hold? While protesters cautiously celebrated the deal, others expressed skepticism that the military would stick to its end of the bargain.

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    Hong Kong Students Reject Talks With Authorities

    Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s invitation to sit down with university students in the protest-ridden semi-autonomous territory was decried as “just a public relations stunt.” Some student leaders complained of the closed-door nature of the meetings, while others said they wouldn’t talk until their demands — to completely withdraw a controversial extradition bill and investigate the recent use of force against demonstrators — were met.

    Is Lam on her way out? Probably not: Observers say the only realistic replacement would be a hard-liner, which would further inflame protests, while China may be wary of drawing attention to its opaque selection process for chief executive.

  5. Also Important…

    Analysts are awaiting the U.S. government’s jobs report today to see what it reveals about the longest economic expansion in the country’s history. Malaysian authorities have charged the producer of Hollywood hit The Wolf of Wall Street with embezzling millions of dollars from state coffers. And Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai has reportedly sued one of his wives, Princess Haya, after she allegedly fled to London.

    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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    Southern California Hit by Biggest Earthquake in Years

    Residents of communities as far away as Las Vegas and northern Mexico felt the rattle of yesterday’s magnitude 6.4 temblor, centered some 125 miles northeast of Los Angeles. Observers say it was the largest rooted in Southern California in two decades, and the most intense in nearly five years. But despite the magnitude and scale of the earthquake, no deaths, serious injuries or major damage to infrastructure has been reported. “It just kept feeling like you were in a boat,” one eyewitness said.

    Is more movement coming? Seismologists have warned locals to expect more aftershocks, or even another significant quake.

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    Could This Major Mideast Oil Zone Be Back in Business?

    Neighboring nations Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are on the cusp of reopening a contested but lucrative neutral oil zone on their shared border. No oil has been pumped from the area following their 2014-2015 diplomatic spat, but resuming output could boost the economies of both countries: It can produce up to 500,000 barrels a day, or about as much as OPEC-member Ecuador.

    Is it a done deal? Both sides are working out the technical details in preparation for a final phase of negotiations, though previous talks have fallen through at the last minute.

    Check out this OZY Flashback about the murder of a Saudi princess.

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    Report: Massive Reforestation Could Slow Global Warming

    Planting 2.2 billion acres of trees is “the top climate change solution in terms of carbon storage potential,” according to a new study published in Science. The research suggests that a huge global initiative to plant 1.2 trillion trees — an area roughly the size of the United States — could remove 205 gigatons of carbon dioxide in the next century. That’s about two-thirds of the carbon humans have generated since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

    Is there room for all those trees? Researchers propose restoring former forests, and have released a planning tool showing the most viable locations.

    Read OZY’s feature about why storing data in space could help fight climate change.

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    ‘Stolen’ King Tut Head Sold at UK Auction 

    The sculpted 11-inch stone head of Tutankhamen sold yesterday at Christie’s to an unknown buyer for nearly $6 million, sparking an outcry from Egypt, which maintains the treasure was stolen. During the auction, several protesters gathered outside the London auction house with signs reading, “Egyptian history is not for sale.” But the head of Christie’s antiquities department defended the sale, arguing that it’s impossible to trace the history of ancient artifacts. 

    What will Cairo do now? Egyptian authorities have vowed to lobby for the return of the item, as well as other treasures claimed during colonial occupation.

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    The Future of Esports Is in College Arenas

    Major universities like Marquette, Ohio State and the University of California are among nearly 200 U.S. colleges that now have active esports programs and even competitive varsity teams. Many offer scholarships totaling roughly $15 million per year. And some are going a step further, OZY reports, investing millions on high-tech, multipurpose esports arenas that are helping legitimize gaming in the world of college athletics, as well as lure prospective students.

    Is that a winning tactic? As the popularity of the billion-dollar esports industry skyrockets, once-hesitant parents are seeing it as a viable career option for their kids — one that pays for an otherwise expensive education.