The Presidential Daily Brief


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    U.S. Heat Kills Six, Continues Today

    More than half of the United States is steaming in heat blamed for six deaths that won’t let up until tonight. Four of the deaths took place in Maryland, where Baltimore’s thermometers hit 100 and high humidity made it feel like like 122. In Arkansas, former New York Giants offensive lineman Mitch Petrus, 32, died Thursday of heat stroke after working outside in 92-degree temperatures.

    How bad is it? As U.S. temperatures are expected to ease off Monday, they’re forecast to soar in Europe. Across the Northern Hemisphere, July’s expected to be history’s hottest month.

    OZY explains how trees have joined the fight against climate change.

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    Seized Tanker Wasn’t in Iranian Waters, Hunt Says

    Iran’s seizure of its Stena Impero oil tanker was in Omani waters in the Strait of Hormuz, in “clear contravention of international law,” British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said. He earlier warned of “serious consequences” if Iran doesn’t resolve the crisis. Iran released video Saturday of its helicopter-borne Revolutionary Guards rappelling onto the ship Friday. On July 4, Royal Marines captured an Iranian tanker for allegedly shipping oil to sanctioned Syria. Meanwhile, British shipping, which Hunt said “will be protected,” has been warned away from the strait. 

    Could this mean war? A U.S. intelligence official said Iran’s not looking for a fight, while U.K. officials say they’re pursuing a diplomatic solution.

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    Protesters Mass in Moscow After Candidates Barred

    Estimates ranged between 10,000 and 20,000 demonstrators who rallied in Moscow Saturday to demand that disqualified office seekers be approved to run for Sept. 8 city legislative elections. Election authorities claim some 30 candidates — mostly opponents of President Vladimir Putin — can’t run because many of the required 5,000 signatures they gathered were invalid. Unlike last weekend’s smaller demonstration, during which authorities detained 25 people, this gathering had city approval.

    Could this make a difference? The economy and corruption have hurt Putin’s approval ratings lately, but it’s unclear. “We will show them this is a dangerous game,” said opposition leader Alexei Navalny, vowing an even bigger rally next weekend.

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    Cross in Hand, They Oppose Duterte’s Deadly Crusade

    The drug war in the Philippines has claimed an estimated 20,000 lives, compelling some members of the Catholic Church to rebel against nightly killings of unarmed men. Jun Santiago — a missionary, journalist and activist — is leading the charge by supporting survivors, aiding protests and documenting extrajudicial executions. The work is so dangerous that Santiago’s friends say, half in jest, that he’s destined for sainthood.

    Is the Church supporting activists? Not enough, according to rights groups. President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened and smeared bishops and priests, intimidating the church’s most senior leaders to keep silent.

    OZY reveals which country loves Trump the most.


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    Why This Bank Is a Political Barometer for Ukraine

    One of Ukraine’s key achievements after its 2014 revolution was cleaning up its notoriously corrupt banking sector — particularly the nationalization of PrivatBank, owned by shadowy oligarch Igor Kolomoisky and featuring a balance sheet missing $5.5 million. Now that comic Volodymyr Zelensky, first vaulted to fame by Kolomoisky’s network, is president, some are wondering whether he’ll help his alleged patron by creating a political climate enabling Kolomoisky to claw back his fortunes and influence.

    How will Zelensky act? He says he won’t interfere in Kolomoisky’s favor, but the real indicator will be the Cabinet he appoints following this weekend’s parliamentary elections, in which Zelensky’s party is expected to win big.

  6. Also Important…

    A female suicide bomber has killed eight people in northern Pakistan in an attack claimed by the Pakistani Taliban. Hong Kong authorities have tightened security as tens of thousands of demonstrators mass today after a large cache of explosives was found with protest leaflets. And British Airways and Germany’s Lufthansa have suspended flights to Egypt, citing a security threat.

    In the week ahead: On Monday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan visits the White House. Britain’s Conservative Party plans to announce on Tuesday its leadership election results, expected to make Boris Johnson prime minister. And former special counsel Robert Mueller is to testify before House committees Wednesday.

    OZY is hiring! We’re looking for an experienced podcast producer to guide ambitious storytelling. Check out our jobs page and read the description here


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    Florida Man Reads About Himself, and Weeps

    “The biggest question I get is: What were you thinking?” The answer from one of memedom’s most prominent citizens is always, “I wasn’t.” Thus spake “Florida Man” — he who graces headlines describing meme-worthy antics. That includes “Florida Man Wearing Crocs Gets Bitten After Jumping Into Crocodile Exhibit,” which inspired a Washington Post reporter to visit Brandon Hatfield, 24, who was serving time for his drug-fueled reptilian rampage.

    Isn’t it funny? Of course, but Hatfield and other “Florida Men’s” misadventures often have a tragic backdrop: an inescapable cycle of poverty, addiction and jail that is hardly laughable.

    Flashback with OZY to discover 1930s memes lampooning Hitler.

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    ‘That’s One Small Step’ That Few Could Have Authored 

    A half-century ago this weekend, Neil Armstrong needed to convey the gravity, if you will, of the feat he was performing while millions around the world listened: “That’s one small step for a man — and one giant leap for mankind.” It’s a poetic line humanity has committed to memory, with or without the “a” that journalists omitted.

    Could others have done better? They tried. A pre-flight Esquire piece, which mocked astronauts’ workaday chatter, elicited suggestions from celebrities, including sci-fi author Isaac Asimov: “[Rocket pioneer Robert] Goddard, we are here.” None, however, outdid the actual lunar utterance.

    OZY retraces where Armstrong’s voice was first transmitted.

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    Germans Want to Save the Planet, but How?

    Almost three-quarters of Germans are worried about the impact of climate change on the planet’s future, surveys show. That fear is prompting changes in households across the country moving sustainability very much into the mainstream. Business is noticing the change too, with sales for bikes and e-bikes soaring and carbon offsets increasingly popular. But it’s not enough when individuals are far ahead of public policy. 

    What options are out there? Elected officials are noticing, even to the point that Bavaria’s prevailing conservative party, the CSU, adopted the green manifesto of the fringe Ecological Democratic Party.

    OZY looks at a radical energy-saving solution.

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    When an Indie Darling Fails to Produce

    As American songwriter Sufjan Stevens began rising to fame in the mid-2000s with two celebrated albums focused on Michigan and Illinois, his promoter had an idea: Do the other 48 too. That gave way to a widely publicized effort that got indie fans excited — but never materialized. Stevens himself acknowledged that it was a marketing gimmick, but the myth kept growing.

    He could still decide to do it, right? While it seems unlikely, his former publicist points to the artist’s two box sets of Christmas tunes and says, “You never say never with Sufjan.”

    Check out OZY’s profile of India’s queen of the blues.

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    MMA Is Fighting for a Place In India

    Mumbai is famous for many things, but mixed martial arts isn’t one of them. A fast-growing and dedicated fan base is changing that. Fight nights in the city and across India are popping up and the world is taking notice. British and Singaporean promoters are dipping their toes in the potentially giant market, with local television backing the bets. Governing body All India MMA Federation says 18- to 35-year-old Indians are leading the charge.

    Will India back a champion? With the wider community equating the sport with “human cockfighting,” acceptance is hard-won, but enterprising promoters are devoting years of training to develop young competitors.