The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Us china shutterstock 1131501650

    Trump Threatens China With Fresh Tariffs

    Irked by the stalemate in trade negotiations with Beijing, President Donald Trump announced yesterday that Washington would slap a 10 percent tariff on an additional $300 billion in Chinese imports Sept. 1. Also fueling his frustration is China’s alleged foot-dragging on stopping fentanyl shipments and buying more U.S. agricultural goods as promised. The new levy — coming after the enactment of a 25 percent tax on $250 million in goods — would include products as diverse as smartphones and sneakers.

    What’s next? Beijing’s likely to retaliate, further rattling markets that skidded on Thursday’s news, although Trump could withdraw his threat if talks progress.

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    Saudi Arabia Lifts Travel Restrictions Against Women

    In another loosening of its strict social codes, a decree approved by Riyadh’s Cabinet will allow Saudi women to travel abroad independently without a male guardian. Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.S. — the first woman to hold the position — said the move was “history in the making,” though it remains unclear when it’ll go into effect. Women aged 21 and older, the government announced, will be able to apply for passports “like all citizens.”

    How else is Saudi Arabia reforming? Besides finally allowing women to drive last summer, the country has also greenlit movie theaters and concerts.

    Don’t miss OZY’s True Story about Saudi women burning rubber.

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    Tokyo Ratchets Up Trade Dispute With Seoul

    “We won’t be defeated by Japan again.” So said South Korean President Moon Jae-in today after Japan struck his country from a “white list” of 27 nations with preferential trade access. His government responded in kind, the latest salvo of a trade spat rooted in decades-old animosity. Earlier, Japan restricted several key supplies South Korean companies use to make semiconductors after Seoul demanded reparations for wartime laborers conscripted during Tokyo’s occupation of Korea.

    What are the global ramifications? Experts say a slowdown in chip and display production “could weigh on the market” while also stifling private investment in South Korea.

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    Key US-Russian Arms Pact Falls Apart

    A new arms race appears to be underway as 1989’s Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between Moscow and Washington ends today. The U.S. has accused Russia of violating the pact, which kept the European continent free from such weapons for years, by developing a new cruise missile — a claim backed by NATO. Analysts say both sides are prepared to compete, with the U.S. already developing at least three kinds of medium-range missiles, although they’re designed for conventional warheads.

    Has the world become more dangerous? All eyes are now on the larger New START treaty, the last limit on the world’s two biggest nuclear arsenals, which expires in 2021.

  5. Also Important…

    North Korea is believed to have launched another two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast Friday. At least four people were wounded when six small bomb blasts hit Bangkok during a regional security meeting featuring top diplomats from around the world. And a granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy died yesterday, reportedly from an overdose, at the family’s Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, compound.

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

    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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    Dutch Civil Servants Cast Doubt Over Burqa Ban

    After 14 years of debate culminating in a new law last June, restrictions against Muslim veils, along with face-covering masks and helmets, went into effect yesterday in public buildings and transit vehicles in the Netherlands. But some police officers, hospital workers and public transport employees are saying they won’t enforce it. Breaking the law will cost about $165, though unlike a similar rule in France, burqas and niqabs are still allowed to be worn on the street.

    How many women will be affected? Out of a population of 17 million, only 200 to 400 — though far-right politician Geert Wilders is already arguing for a further ban on headscarves.

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    Facebook Targets Arabic Influence Campaigns

    The social network took action yesterday against two unrelated operations — one based in Saudi Arabia and another traced to two marketing firms in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates — for spreading propaganda across the Middle East. It removed 476 accounts and 246 pages that were spreading messages to a combined 13.7 million followers vilifying their rivals or supporting those countries’ roles in regional conflicts.

    Is Facebook getting better at fighting misinformation? While the company’s chief of cybersecurity policy claims that’s the case, he also says the “ongoing challenge” requires better tech, more employees and closer cooperation with authorities.

    Read this OZY feature about what life after Facebook might look like.

  3. Mexico

    Why Wealthy Mexicans Are Looking Abroad

    A year after his landslide victory, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador enjoys 70 percent support — but his anti-business rhetoric has spooked the wealthy and middle class. More than $4.5 billion has left the country’s bank accounts since the election, OZY reports, while other indicators suggest many Mexicans want to leave. His “rescuing” of the distressed state-owned oil company and labeling of wealthy business owners as “rapacious” has some comparing Mexico’s new paradigm to Venezuela’s ill-fated revolution.

    What do experts say? Despite AMLO’s promises to boost employment and prompt a 4 percent annual growth rate, most expect the economy to grow no more than 1 percent this year.

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    Katy Perry, Label to Pay $2.78M for Ripping Off Riff

    Following its ruling earlier this week that the pop star copied from Christian rap track Joyful Noise, a Los Angeles jury on Thursday decided what to award the lawsuit’s plaintiffs. Since her song Dark Horse earned the singer nearly $3 million, Perry will be expected to pay $550,000 of the overall damages herself. In an attempt to lower its liability, Capitol Records, which reaped big bucks from the No. 1 hit, argued that high costs kept profits down. 

    How is Perry responding? Her legal team is expected to challenge the verdict, arguing that “a reasonable jury” couldn’t have concluded her music wasn’t original.

    Check out OZY’s story about stretching the limits of country music.

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     MLB Suspends Eight for Bench-Clearing Brawl

    Six players and two team managers were hit with suspensions ranging from two to 10 games yesterday, two days after a fight broke out between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds. Pirates pitcher Keone Kela got the worst ban for inciting the free-for-all with a pitch “intentionally” thrown perilously close to Reds batter Derek Dietrich’s head. It was the largest brawl-based suspension since a Dodgers-Diamondbacks clash in 2013.

    What’s next for the players? The six players have appealed and can play until their cases are heard, but managers have no such recourse.