The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. department of labor shutterstock 630435077

    US Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta Resigns 

    Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta resigned amid mounting criticism against his decision not to prosecute wealthy hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein in 2008. At the time, Acosta was serving as the US attorney in Miami, where he oversaw an agreement that allowed Epstein to forgo federal charges of sex crimes. The resignation comes just days after Epstein was arrested again under accusations of sex-trafficking girls as young as 14.

    Who will replace Acosta? After President Donald Trump praised Acosta as a ‘great’ Labor Secretary, the White House announced that Acosta’s deputy Pattrick Pizzella will assume the position. 

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    Trump Backs Down Over Citizenship Question

    Abandoning his bid to add the controversial query to the 2020 census, President Donald Trump instead ordered federal agencies to gather citizenship data from official records. The decision caps a contentious 19-month effort by the administration, which was dealt a setback last month when the Supreme Court essentially ruled the White House couldn’t add the question without stronger justification. Despite that, Trump had vowed to continue his quest.

    What’s next? The issue is still making political waves, with the Democrat-led House voting next week on whether to hold Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Attorney General William Barr in contempt for ignoring subpoenas related to the administration’s effort.

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    South Korea, Japan Descend Further Into Tech Spat

    After Japan accused South Korea of sharing sensitive technology with North Korea, Seoul responded today by suggesting that the United Nations — which imposed sanctions prohibiting such transfers — should investigate Japan’s claim. Citing security concerns, Tokyo last week placed strict controls on exporting materials for tech components to South Korea, which denies violating sanctions. The feud may also complicate U.S. efforts to denuclearize the peninsula.

    Can this be resolved? The trading partners’ representatives are conferring in Tokyo today about the dispute, which is reportedly linked to animosity that goes back to Japan’s World War II occupation of Korea.

    Check out OZY’s Special Briefing on the new Asian Tigers.

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    Sudan Military Foils ‘Coup’ Attempt Ahead of Transition

    Two days before both sides in Sudan’s political crisis were set to sign a transition agreement, the country’s military leadership said it foiled an attempted takeover and arrested at least 16 officers. The announcement, broadcast on state television, came as the Transitional Military Council and the civilian opposition were hashing out the details of the power-sharing deal, which is aimed at breaking the political deadlock that followed ex-President Omar al-Bashir’s ouster in April.

    Could this derail the deal? Observers weren’t surprised by the coup attempt and expect the sides to go ahead with the agreement, calling it “absolutely a step forward.”

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    Louisiana Preps for Tropical Storm Barry

    “This is a life-threatening situation.” So said the National Hurricane Center as Tropical Storm Barry — the first U.S. storm of the season — creeps toward the Gulf Coast, threatening up to 20 inches of rain. Some residents in the Pelican State are evacuating ahead of its arrival late Friday or early Saturday, while a hurricane warning is already in effect. The NHC has particularly warned of dangerous storm surges.

    How bad could it get? Parts of Louisiana are already dealing with unusually intense flooding, and experts say it’s the first time a tropical storm will hit when the Mississippi River’s water level is twice as high as normal.

  6. Also Important…

    President Trump has sharply criticized Facebook’s proposed digital currency, Libra, claiming it would have “little standing or dependability.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent public bouts of shaking are reportedly pushing some within her party to wonder whether she should transfer power to her protégé sooner. And at least 37 people were injured yesterday when an Air Canada flight experienced severe turbulence and was forced to make an emergency landing.

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

    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.


  1. shutterstock google

    Google Employees Listen to Users’ Recorded Conversations

    After a Belgian contractor leaked 1,000 audio recordings from Google’s Assistant device, the tech giant said it’s “conducting a full review” of the incident. But it acknowledged that contract employees around the world listen to about 0.2 percent of conversations between users and devices like Google Home in order to improve speech technology. The company maintains that it seeks to protect user privacy.

    Is Google’s policy problematic? While it’s common to use humans to improve artificial intelligence-based technology, critics say neither Google nor rival Amazon, which produces Alexa, has been transparent about its collection and storage of data.

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    Germany Targets ‘Extremist’ Identitarian Movement

    Yesterday Germany’s domestic intelligence agency announced that it would put the far-right Identitarian movement under strict surveillance after deeming its ideology extremist. Officials said the pan-European group, with 600 members in Germany, has “passed beyond the stage of suspicion,” and is clearly aiming to exclude and violate the human dignity of people not of European origin.

    Are they neo-Nazis? While Identitarians reject associations with Nazism and have so far avoided the violence linked to neo-Nazis, their flags are often seen at far-right rallies.

    Ready this OZY feature about the European far-right’s obsession with paganism.

  3. people in love

    Do Men Really Like Monogamy Less Than Women?

    Assumptions about male sexual appetites often lead people to believe that men are more likely to be in polyamorous relationships. Yet one recent study found that women are significantly more comfortable with nonmonogamy than men, OZY reports. Though it defies conventional wisdom, that finding isn’t out of the blue: Men are traditionally seen as sexually possessive while women are thought to be better at communication, which is vital to polyamorous arrangements.

    Is this research conclusive? Not quite: It oversampled LGBTQ participants — and there’s significant overlap between the queer and poly communities.

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    R. Kelly Arrested, Indicted on Federal Charges

    The disgraced R&B performer was detained in Chicago last night on a 13-count sex crime indictment, reportedly focusing on child pornography and obstruction of justice. Earlier this year, state prosecutors in Illinois filed a series of sexual assault charges against the 52-year-old, who pleaded not guilty and posted bail. It wasn’t immediately clear when he’ll face a judge.

    How did Kelly get here? After being acquitted in a child pornography case a decade ago, a series of investigative reports as well as a recent Lifetime documentary series helped revive allegations against him.

    Read this OZY True Story about the anatomy of a sexual assault.

  5. tennis shutterstock 125840186

    Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer to Meet at Wimbledon

    Despite having played one another 39 times in their careers — most recently at last month’s French Open, where Nadal, now 33, emerged victorious — they’ll face off in a Wimbledon match today for the first time since 2008. That showdown, which Nadal also won, was hailed as a sporting event for the ages. But observers say the All-England Club is Federer’s domain, where the 37-year-old is aiming for his 21st Grand Slam title.

    Why does it matter? Today’s match could have a lasting impact on both players’ legacies, helping settle the debate over which is the greatest tennis player of all time.