The Presidential Daily Brief


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    UK, US: Iran Tried to Intercept British Tanker

    British and U.S. officials say several boats belonging to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards attempted to stop the vessel as it entered the Strait of Hormuz yesterday, but were chased away by the Royal Navy’s HMS Montrose. A U.K. government spokesman urged Iran, which denied the incident took place, “to de-escalate the situation.” The episode occurred nearly a week after Tehran vowed retaliation for the British seizure of an Iranian tanker, allegedly delivering oil to Syria, off the coast of Gibraltar.

    What’s next? Wednesday’s alleged confrontation could draw international support for the U.S. effort to form a naval coalition to guard commercial shipping around the Gulf.

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    Acosta Defends Role in Epstein Plea Deal

    Amid calls for his resignation and demands that he testify before Congress, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta stood by his handling of a decade-old sex crimes case that resulted in financier Jeffrey Epstein’s lenient plea deal. Acosta claimed that aiming for a sentence tougher than the 13 months Epstein served would have been “a roll of the dice.” He blamed Florida state prosecutors for seeking a single charge that might’ve let Epstein walk free — though a former state attorney insisted Acosta’s federal office could have filed its own charges.

    How else is pressure mounting? Another woman has accused Epstein of raping her when she was 15, months after approaching her outside her New York City school.

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    Report: ICE Preparing Nationwide Immigration Raids

    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will reportedly begin arresting thousands of undocumented migrants across at least 10 major cities Sunday with the goal of enforcing deportation orders. The New York Times cited two current and one former homeland security officials saying family members arrested together would be sent to family detention facilities when possible. The report follows a recent pledge by President Donald Trump that such an operation would start “fairly soon.”

    Are border crossings on the rise? They’ve actually declined from a 13-year high in May, while arrests fell 29 percent last month.

    Check out OZY’s feature on Mexico’s own migrant crisis.

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    US to Probe French Tax on Tech Giants

    The Trump administration has ordered trade officials to investigate a proposed 3 percent tax on revenue generated within France by major tech companies. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said yesterday the tax — which is expected to be approved today and could raise around $450 million this year — “unfairly targets American companies,” since giants like Amazon, Google and Facebook would all be affected.

    Why does it matter? The spat could spark a broader debate over how the internet economy should be taxed, though analysts say France is the only European country that’s come close to introducing such a measure.

  5. Also Important…

    The U.S. Justice Department is believed to be investigating Deutsche Bank over its alleged involvement in Malaysia’s 1MDB fraud scandal. Residents in Louisiana are bracing for a potential tropical storm that could turn into a hurricane by Friday. And Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft has touched down on the Ryugu asteroid — its second successful landing in a complex mission to collect samples.

    #OZYfact: While 30 percent of Americans are married to a person of a different religion, only 10 percent of Democrats and Republicans have crossed the political aisle to wed. Read more on OZY.

    Want a trip for two to New York? Enter here for a chance to win two VIP OZY Fest tickets, airfare, hotel stay and more.


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    This Skull Fragment Could Alter the Human Narrative

    New high-tech analysis of a hominin skull fossil found in a Greek cave decades ago has led researchers to classify it as the oldest Homo sapiens remains ever discovered in Europe. The finding, published in the journal Nature, suggests the skull dates back 210,000 years. That’s 150,000 years earlier than the widely accepted estimate of when the earliest humans migrated from Africa to Europe.

    What does the discovery teach us? If it’s correct — and some paleoanthropologists are skeptical — it could make scientists reassess theories about ancient human migration. 

    Don’t miss this OZY story about the scientist using new gene-editing technology.

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    Digital Banks Are Disrupting Latin America’s Financial System

    While banks have enjoyed decades of monopolistic control in Latin America, a fast-growing group of digital institutions is now threatening their dominance, OZY reports. At these new banks — part of a fintech industry that grew 66 percent from 2017 to 2018 — doing business means quick taps on a smartphone rather than hours in line at a local branch. Mounting distrust of old-school financial institutions could help boost acceptance among clients and regulators alike.

    How big is the market? Only around 50 percent of Latin Americans have bank accounts, giving new players plenty of room to shake up the region’s stodgy financial system.

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    South Korea Under Fire for Treatment of Gay Soldiers

    Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has called on South Korea’s military to “stop treating LGBTI people as the enemy.” In a report released Thursday, the organization detailed what it says are instances of violence and harassment against gay soldiers rooted in a law criminalizing sex between men in the military. That law, Amnesty says, “creates an environment where discrimination is tolerated, and even encouraged.”

    What’s the bigger picture? South Korea is currently reexamining the nature of its mandatory military service, with recent court rulings supporting conscientious objectors and politicians pledging to shorten service times.

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    Is CNN Taking Coverage Tips From Fox News?

    In an ongoing push to use data analysis to stay ahead of the competition, CNN is not only monitoring trending news stories, but specifically watching what its rival is covering. A company Slack channel reportedly lists stories with a fox emoji next to any online items the conservative network covered but CNN didn’t. No other competitors were highlighted — which observers say suggests CNN is pushing to emulate Fox’s most-read content.

    Will it copy Fox’s style? Don’t count on it: A CNN spokesman dismissed Fox’s online programming as “an alarming strategy I call the ‘the daily bikini.’”

    Read OZY’s profile of the American media expert fighting fake news.

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    USWNT Uses World Cup Victory Parade as Platform

    “We have to be better.” So said co-captain and soccer icon Megan Rapinoe in her speech at New York’s City Hall yesterday during her team’s ticker-tape celebration in Manhattan. In between dancing on floats and sipping champagne, team members took to social media to push for fair compensation. Drowned out by chants of “equal pay” from the crowd, U.S. Soccer Federation President Carlos Cordeiro responded, “We hear you.”

    But will anything change? Earlier this week, Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, floated a bill that would ban federal funding for the 2026 men’s World Cup until soccer’s governing body agrees to equal pay.