The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. toni morrison shutterstock 103839842

    Nobel Prize Winner Toni Morrison Dies at Age 88

    Morrison’s publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, announced her death Monday night at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York. The widely acclaimed writer and Ohio native became the first Black woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1993. That accolade came five years after Beloved, her heart-wrenching novel about a mother’s choice to kill her baby to save her from slavery, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. 

    What will she be most remembered for? As a literary phenomenon, Morrison broached taboo experiences of Black women, who she considered her target audience. 

  2. trump not smiling shutterstock 1276349395

    Trump Decries Bigotry, But Skirts Gun Control

    Denouncing white supremacy and warning about the threat of “racist hate,” President Donald Trump blamed video games, mental illness and the internet for this weekend’s deadly shootings in Texas and Ohio. But he avoided addressing claims from critics that his combative and racially charged rhetoric has fueled intolerance. Nor did he propose gun control measures, as Democrats and some Republicans have demanded — and as Trump had earlier tweeted, linking weapons purchase background checks to immigration reform.

    What’s next? As campaign season heats up, observers will be watching whether Trump reverts to divisive electioneering after stepping briefly into the role of national healer.

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    China Currency Spat Ratchets Up Trade War

    Chinese state media has accused Washington of “deliberately destroying international order” after it designated Beijing as a currency manipulator yesterday. The move followed the White House claiming China had weaponized the yuan by allowing it to slump under the key benchmark of 7 to the dollar, making Chinese goods cheaper abroad and U.S. imports more expensive in China. In today’s afternoon trading, Asian stock indexes swooned, but cut losses to less than 1 percent.

    What about trade talks? Some analysts say the latest round of tit-for-tat, beginning with President Trump’s threat last week of new tariffs on Chinese goods, means China has “given up” on negotiating.

  4. venezuela protest flag shutterstock 747177115

    US Freezes All Official Venezuelan Assets

    In a fresh escalation of tensions with the crisis-ridden Latin American country, President Trump announced yesterday that he’d expand sanctions against Venezuela into a total economic embargo. Effective immediately, it freezes government assets and bans American entities from doing business with the Venezuelan government. Only Cuba, North Korea, Syria and Iran already face such embargoes.

    Why does it matter? While it spares the private sector by avoiding an all-out trade embargo, the order may also be aimed at Venezuelan allies such as China and Russia — which risk their U.S. assets being frozen if they continue dealing with Caracas.

    Check out OZY’s Special Briefing on Venezuela’s crisis.

  5. North korea shutterstock 148621262

    Pyongyang Fires More Missiles as US-Korea Drills Begin

    For the fourth time in two weeks, North Korea has reportedly launched two short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, a day after the U.S. and South Korean militaries began joint exercises. Pyongyang has long criticized such drills, which are designed to be defensive, as preparation for war. Meanwhile, the United Nations claims that North Korea has stolen some $2 billion through cyberattacks on banks and cryptocurrency exchanges to fund its weapons program.

    Are nuclear negotiations doomed? The Hermit Kingdom could still break its promise to Washington by testing long-range and nuclear munitions, but some say the recent launches aren’t enough to prevent talks.

  6. Also Important…

    China has warned pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong not to “to play with fire.” European Union diplomats have reportedly been told that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is preparing for a no-deal Brexit and will not attempt to renegotiate the withdrawal deal. And Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has sold about $2.8 billion worth of company shares in the past week.

    #OZYfact: Black carbon’s warming effect on the climate is as much as 1,500 times more intense than that of carbon dioxide. 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.


  1. War on terror shutterstock 324965885

    What Arab Regimes Learned From America’s War on Terror

    Along with armor and aircraft, Washington has also exported a rhetorical weapon to Middle East. After the September 11 attacks, local allies — wary of inviting U.S. troops — became low-key surrogates, vowing to monitor terror groups and insurgents. But with a generational shift in leadership, the “war on terror” has become something else: Nowadays, OZY reports, the term is used to justify fighting local enemies and silencing dissidents and critics, while sending some activists into hiding. 

    What does that mean for global peace? Experts worry that such crackdowns have the potential to worsen grievances and stoke extremism, fomenting more terror upon which to wage “war.”

  2. dollars shutterstock 165014249

    US Federal Reserve Eyes Real-Time Payments

    The central bank announced yesterday that it’s creating FedNow, an inter-bank system that would allow quick, round-the-clock payments of up to $25,000. The Fed claims it’ll be “ubiquitous, safe and efficient,” and unlike real-time transfer services like Venmo, it won’t be a “closed-loop” that requires the same app on both ends.

    When will money start moving? The new service is expected to be available in banks by 2024, and will help both consumers and small businesses avoid expensive check cashing services, high-cost borrowing and other fees.

    Don’t miss OZY’s Special Briefing on the Fed’s recent interest rate hike.

  3. woman lab science shutterstock 329432669

    Is a Skin Cancer Vaccine on Its Way?

    So far, the nano-vaccine has been tested on mice at Tel Aviv University, where it was observed preventing melanoma and slowing the progression of the aggressive skin cancer — even when it had spread to the brain. The apparent breakthrough “opens the door to a completely new approach,” said lead researcher Ronit Satchi-Fainaro, whose team believes such nano-vaccines could be developed for other types of cancer.

    When might the vaccine hit the market? It would take at least 10 years to bridge the gap between treating mice and developing the vaccine for humans, Satchi-Fainaro estimated. 

    Read this OZY feature about how your genes could cure cancer.

  4. japan flag shutterstock 1069917221

    Japanese Officials Clash Over ‘Comfort Women’ as Art

    An artistic representation of Japan’s painful history has sparked a free speech debate in the central Aichi Prefecture. Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura demanded that a sculpture representing “comfort women” forced into sexual servitude during World War II be removed from a local art festival. But Gov. Hideaki Omura says that’s an unconstitutional curb on free expression. Oddly enough, Omura himself closed the exhibit, concerned about safety after the festival was threatened over the sculpture.

    Why is the art so controversial? The mayor says hosting the statue effectively recognizes South Korea’s claims of sexual slavery — a bitter disagreement that’s recently harmed the two nations’ trade relations.

  5. soccer shutterstock 187224827

    MLS Won’t Punish Player for Decrying Gun Violence

    Following a mid-game, microphone-grabbing outburst Sunday by Philadelphia Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya, Major League Soccer has decided not to punish him. Given pro sports leagues’ aversion to political expression, some expected the team captain would be disciplined for saying, “Hey Congress! Do something now! End gun violence!” It came on the heels of two weekend shootings that left 32 people dead. “It’s a shame it’s seen as a political (statement),” said Bedoya, who was named MLS Player of the Week yesterday.

    Why does it matter? Observers suggest that by refusing to punish Bedoya, MLS has tacitly acknowledged that his comment merited the attention.