The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Puerto Rico’s Embattled Governor to Resign

    Amid popular protests rooted in a text message scandal, but which grew into a widespread repudiation of political mismanagement in the U.S. territory, Ricardo Rosselló has announced that he’ll step down Aug. 2. “I’m overjoyed,” one protester said. “We did it.” Rosselló, who acknowledged that he’d “heard the demand of the people,” will be the first governor of Puerto Rico to resign. Secretary of Justice Wanda Vázquez will succeed him.

    Does this mean change for the island? Observers say Puerto Rico’s future leaders should be wary of a newly emboldened citizenry, with one activist warning that people aren’t “sitting in front of their TVs anymore.”

    Check out OZY’s profile of San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz.

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    Mueller Testifies Before Congress

    Special counsel Robert Mueller is currently on Capitol Hill to testify in back-to-back congressional hearings on his Russia probe. But it’s unclear whether Mueller’s testimony — which the former FBI director has promised wouldn’t exceed the scope of his 448-page report — will provide the political fuel Democrats are seeking as they probe suspected misdeeds by President Donald Trump and rally against his reelection.

    Why does it matter? Even if Mueller doesn’t provide any new insights, observers say his appearance could provide a key, plain-English voice to an unwieldy heap of legalese.

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    Boris Johnson to Form New Cabinet

    After Queen Elizabeth II’s official appointment of the former London mayor as British prime minister today, he’ll assemble what insiders say will be a diverse government designed to “truly reflect modern Britain.” Whatever its demographic make-up, the Cabinet’s expected to be heavily populated with Brexiteers. Meanwhile, President Trump said of Johnson, “He’s tough and he’s smart.”

    What about Brexit? While European leaders have warmly congratulated Johnson, analysts say it shouldn’t be confused with a willingness to substantially renegotiate a withdrawal deal.

    Don’t miss OZY’s Special Briefing on Britain’s future under Johnson.

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    Disputed Claims Follow Asian Air Confrontation

    A day after South Korean fighter jets fired hundreds of warning shots at a Russian reconnaissance plane on a joint Russian-Chinese patrol, Seoul said Moscow expressed regret over the incident and blamed it on a technical glitch. But Russia’s defense ministry later reportedly sent South Korea a document saying no airspace violation had occurred, while the Russian embassy in Seoul says it “did not make an official apology.”

    What’s the takeaway from Tuesday’s showdown? Experts claim it represented an attempt by Beijing and Moscow to test a budding military alliance through which they’ve already flexed their muscles with war games.

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    Feds Launch Antitrust Probe of Tech Titans

    The U.S. Justice Department has opened a wide-ranging investigation into whether tech giants like Amazon, Facebook and Google have stifled competition and innovation or “otherwise harmed consumers” with their formidable clout. Yesterday’s announcement came just as federal authorities are expected to approve a settlement in which Facebook will cough up $5 billion in penalties for mishandling user data.

    How politicized could this probe get? Both Democrats and Republicans will be watching closely, but for different reasons: While 2020 Democratic hopefuls have called for greater regulation of tech firms, Republicans claim Silicon Valley mutes conservative voices.

  6. Also Important…

    Voting 90-8, the Senate confirmed former Raytheon executive Mark Esper as the new U.S. secretary of defense, ending the position’s longest-ever vacancy. Europe is suffering through another record-breaking heat wave this week. And Nissan could reportedly cut more than 10,000 jobs around the world as its profits drop.

    #OZYfact: The current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is the second-worst on record. Read more on OZY.

    OZY is hiring! We’re looking for a creative, organized and ambitious social media manager to engage and expand our online audience. Check out our jobs page and read the description here.


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    Social Media’s Become Skittish About Political Advertising

    U.S. presidential candidates have spent more than $25 million advertising online this year — but not in Maryland or Washington state. That’s because the states’ stringent campaign transparency laws have discouraged Facebook and Google from running political ads, OZY reports. Part of a multi-state movement to fight digital foreign election influence, they’re at the extreme end of legislation that policy experts say could snowball, raising free speech questions. For now, they’re social media black holes on the electoral map.

    Are these laws constitutional? A federal court has already blocked the Maryland law, arguing it may not be the “least restrictive” way to curb foreign meddling, but the platforms’ bans remain.

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    Brain Scans Suggest ‘Havana Syndrome’ Was Real

    New research has lent legitimacy to complaints of dizziness, balance difficulty and cognitive impairment by employees of the U.S. Embassy in Havana after speculated “sonic weapon” attacks prompted staff reductions there. While they don’t identify a suspect, scans of 40 people exposed to unusual sounds or vibrations in Cuba’s capital showed brain structure and connectivity that appears altered.

    Does this solve the mystery? No: Aside from the scientifically controversial weapon theory, experts have suggested everything from concussions to insect mating calls to explain the so-called “Havana syndrome.”

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    Migration to Russia Hits Ten-Year High

    A fresh analysis of government data shows that more migrants arrived in Russia during the first four months of this year than during the same period over the last decade. Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Tajikistan contributed the most immigrants, while 2019’s total through April — about 98,000 migrants — is nearly double that of the same period in 2018, which ended with a record post-Soviet low.

    Why does it matter? The surge may be a good sign for President Vladimir Putin, who’s planning to battle Russia’s declining population by welcoming up to 10 million Russian-speaking foreigners by 2025.

    Check out OZY’s feature on Eastern Europe’s fire fatality problem.

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    TV Network Plans Epstein, R. Kelly Follow-Up Shows 

    Lifetime is doubling down on its investigative efforts by starting work on Surviving Jeffrey Epstein, a project documenting the string of sex trafficking and abuse allegations against the New York financier. It’s also planning to capitalize on its hit docuseries about the disgraced R&B performer by planning the four-part, Surviving R. Kelly: The Aftermath.

    Are TV shows about scandals Lifetime’s new lifeblood? It seems that way: It’s also announced work on a TV adaption of the college admissions drama that ensnared dozens of wealthy parents, including Hollywood celebrities.

    Read this OZY story about the TV show tackling Bulgaria’s brain drain.

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    Boxer Maxim Dadashev Dies of Fight-Related Injuries

    Four days after suffering serious brain trauma during a grueling Friday fight against Puerto Rican boxer Subriel Matias, the Russian junior welterweight died yesterday at a Maryland hospital. Trainer Buddy McGirt stopped the fight after the 11th round despite insistence from the 28-year-old contender to continue. “What could I have done differently?” McGirt later asked, adding that “everything was fine” during training.

    What did doctors do? In a bid to reduce brain swelling, they’d placed the St. Petersburg native in a medically induced coma. Meanwhile, the Russian Boxing Federation is investigating the circumstances around Dadashev’s fatal fight.