The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Iran ‘Seizes Vessel,’ US ‘Downs Drone,’ Raising Gulf Tensions  

    Shortly after Iran reported that it had impounded a mysterious foreign “smuggling” ship, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that an American warship had downed an Iranian military drone. The acts raise tensions in a region where on June 20 Iran shot down a Pentagon drone — nearly sparking U.S. retaliation. Iran, which wouldn’t confirm losing an unmanned aircraft, has threatened to choke Persian Gulf shipping if its 2015 sanctions-lifting nuclear agreement isn’t salvaged. 

    Is this time different? The rhetoric isn’t as bellicose, with Iran’s foreign minister suggesting steps to defuse the crisis, while both sides referred to the seized ship and downed drone as “small.”   


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    House Holds Barr, Ross in Contempt, Kills Impeachment Effort

    Lawmakers voted 230 to 198 in favor of holding Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt of Congress. The two ignored House Oversight Committee subpoenas for documents related to Trump administration efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Wednesday’s vote sets up another legal fight between Congress and the White House.

    Is this a crisis for the administration? It could be worse: Texas Rep. Al Green also introduced an impeachment resolution over President Donald Trump’s recent “racist” comments, but it was voted down 332-95.

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    Arson at Animation Studio Kills 26 in Japan

    Officials said a man set fire to a Japanese animation studio in Kyoto today, leaving at least 26 people dead and dozens injured. Local police reported that he doused the Kyoto Animation offices with gasoline and yelled “drop dead” as he ignited the blaze. Authorities have a 41-year-old suspect in custody and say they also found knives at the scene. So far, the attacker’s motive and connection to the company are unknown.

    What is the studio known for? Founded in 1981, KyoAni has produced popular series including K-OnThe Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Violet Evergarden, which was picked up by Netflix.

    Read OZY’s look at Eastern European fire fatalities.

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    NATO Chief Warns of World ‘With More Russian Missiles’

    With both Washington and Moscow walking away from a Cold War-era treaty banning intermediate-range missiles, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says Europe must face a greater Russian nuclear threat. “Russia has started deploying these missiles again,” he told the Aspen Security Forum Wednesday — including ground-launched cruise missiles that are “mobile, hard to detect [and] can reach all European cities within minutes.”

    What else is NATO up against? The alliance is facing wavering commitment from President Trump, and one of its key members, Turkey, defying the U.S. by obtaining Russian defensive systems.

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    Netflix Subscriptions Drop After Price Hike

    Despite a wealth of Emmy nominations, the streaming giant posted its first subscriber drop in nearly a decade, losing around 130,000 U.S. viewers in the second quarter. International growth was also disappointing, with just 2.7 million new members worldwide, well under the firm’s 5 million forecast, and subscriber numbers were weakest in areas where Netflix raised prices earlier this year. After-hours trading saw shares plummet more than 11 percent.

    Can the company turn this around? Netflix is also bracing to lose two of its most popular shows, Friends and The Office, as rivals prepare to launch their own streaming services.

    OZY asks: Can Apple conquer Netflix?

  6. Also Important…

    Two-thirds of the United States faces a record-breaking and potentially dangerous heat wave this week. New evidence implicates a German inspection firm in falsely certifying a Brazilian dam as safe before it collapsed and killed 300 people in January. And Puerto Rico police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters demanding the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Roselló over leaked messages containing homophobic, misogynistic and violent comments about political opponents and public figures.

    #OZYfact: In 2019, more Chinese students than Northern Irish ones applied to universities in the U.K., accounting for 3 percent of all applications. Read more on OZY.

    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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    Scientists Crush Mosquito Populations in China

    In a study published in Nature, Chinese researchers report that they’ve eradicated nearly an entire population of mosquitoes using a new technique. Over two years, they released 200 million sterilized male Asian tiger mosquitoes on two islands in the Guangzhou metropolitan area with high concentrations of mosquito-spread dengue fever cases. Today the insects have been virtually wiped out and mosquito bites have dropped by 96 percent.

    Could this stop the spread of diseases? Yes, considering the parasitic pests kill more than 700,000 people each year, transmitting everything from Zika to malaria to yellow fever.

    Read OZY’s look at Nigeria’s curbing of HIV’s spread.

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    Report: At Least 40 Million People Are Enslaved

    Ten thousand people would need to be released each day to reach the U.N.’s goal of ending modern slavery — which includes human trafficking, sexual exploitation, forced marriage and forced labor — by 2030. According to a new report from the Walk Free Foundation, most countries don’t even consider forced labor a crime, and only a third ban forced marriage. Meanwhile, in Europe and Central Asia 36 percent of victims are held in debt bondage.

    Are nations making progress? The report praised some, including Nigeria, Ukraine and Ethiopia, for taking positive steps, while singling out wealthy countries like Singapore, Brunei, Hong Kong and Russia for lack of action.

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    Kevin Spacey Sexual Assault Case Dropped

    Massachusetts prosecutors dropped the case against the former House of Cards actor “due to the unavailability of the complaining witness.” The accuser, who was an 18-year-old busboy in a Nantucket bar at the time of the alleged incident, invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination after defense attorneys demanded to see his text messages from the night in question.

    Does this mean Spacey’s off the hook? While this decision stops a landmark #MeToo prosecution, the actor’s career is still hobbled by sexual misconduct accusations from more than a dozen people.

    OZY investigates #MeToo around the world.

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    FaceApp Becomes the Poster Child for Data-Sharing Fears

    The Russian-developed photo-manipulating app, which has gone viral again this week with its aging filter, has prompted outrage and speculation that the metadata it collects from users’ uploads could be shared with the Russian government. Sen. Chuck Schumer has even called on the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate how FaceApp handles its data.

    Should users be worried? Tech experts say that while privacy fears are well-founded, FaceApp’s data collection isn’t unusual compared to the practices of dozens of other popular apps and social media platforms.

    OZY looks at how smaller companies mine your data.

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    We Have Nothing to Fear From Marshawn Lynch

    To some, he’s a punk. To others, Lynch is a punk artist, coolly upending the media narrative with his trademark “I prefer not to” line. Writing for OZY, filmmaker David Shields explains how he became intrigued by the running back who helped the Seattle Seahawks win the 2014 Super Bowl. Shields’ new documentary, Lynch: A History, tries to show how the five-time Pro Bowler embodies Albert Camus’ statement: “The only way to deal with an unjust world is to be so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

    What does Lynch have to say? Not much. The Oakland native is famous for snubbing the media — just as he did Shields.