The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. suicide bomber shutterstock 659397292

    Scores Perish in Kabul Wedding Hall Bombing

    In one of Afghanistan’s deadliest assaults on a civilian target, a suicide bomber amid celebrants young and old detonated Saturday night at a crowded wedding hall, killing 63 and wounding 182. The hall was in a neighborhood populated by the country’s Shiite Muslim Hazara minority. Such venues are one of the few places city residents can socialize — separated by gender — and weddings have largely escaped Afghanistan’s regular attacks.

    Who’s responsible? The Taliban, which is currently negotiating with U.S. officials to end the 17-year conflict, called the carnage “forbidden and unjustifiable,” leading to speculation that Islamic State militants may have engineered the bombing.

    Read OZY’s Newsmaker profile of Washington’s Afghan-American peace envoy.

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    Epstein Hanged Himself, NYC ME Concludes

    The sleeping guards; the broken hyoid neck bone; the canceled suicide watch. Such details clouded the Aug. 10 death of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein in New York City’s federal Metropolitan Correctional Center. But on Friday New York City Chief Medical Examiner Barbara Sampson tried to put conspiracy theories to rest, saying the accused sex trafficker hanged himself, reportedly with a bedsheet while kneeling.

    Will this put suspicion to rest? Not likely, considering the deceased’s connections to princes and presidents. There are still four federal investigations into the death, and three of Epstein’s lawyers said they were “not satisfied” with the ME’s conclusions.

    Read OZY’s Special Briefing on the Epstein affair.

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    Fears of Tiananmen Hover Over Hong Kong

    Will they be “settled or crushed”? Those are the choices for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrations, predicts one analyst, before China’s National Day on Oct. 1. After nearly three months of unrest in the semiautonomous territory, Chinese troops have massed nearby, but protesters say they’re not intimidated. Demonstrations continued Saturday with thousands of black-clad teachers showing support for their student activists. Hongkongers say they’ve seen it all before, with Beijing misreading citizens’ sentiment.

    How might the worst happen? Analysts believe everything’s interconnected: If trade talks and China’s economy don’t improve, the chance of intervention grows.

    OZY examines the link between trade and the protests.

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    Rep. Tlaib Refuses Israel’s ‘Humanitarian’ Invitation 

    Her grandmother doesn’t want it. That’s one reason Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib said she won’t be visiting her West Bank relations on the “humiliating” condition that she refrain from politics. The offer followed Israel’s allowing the Palestinian-American and fellow Muslim congresswoman Ilhan Omar to come for a fact-finding mission, then barring them after President Donald Trump tweeted that Jerusalem’s permission “shows great weakness.”

    What are Israelis saying? Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri tweeted that Tlaib was acting out of “hate for Israel,” while opposition leader Yair Lapid said the ban boosted those boycotting Israel while alienating Democrats. Even the pro-Israel AIPAC lobby, he said, “is against us.”

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    When ‘MS-13’ Is Just a Deportation Excuse

    Laura Peña thought there was something odd about the case of Carlos, an asylum-seeker separated from his two children at America’s southern border because he’d been flagged as a Salvadoran MS-13 gang member. A former Immigration and Customs Enforcement attorney, Peña defended Carlos pro bono and got other lawyers to help. Six months and $100,000 later, Carlos’ family was reunited after the government mysteriously acquiesced. 

    What’s the big picture? Peña learned Carlos was matched to a U.S.-Salvadoran gang members’ list, but ICE refused to disclose any corroborating evidence, suggesting that other listed migrants could be deported on faulty evidence they can’t defend themselves against.

  6. Also Important…

    Some 100,000 pro-democracy demonstrators marched peacefully in Hong Kong today. A fire in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, has devastated a slum neighborhood and destroyed 2,000 shacks. Some 1,200 left- and right-wing protesters converged in Portland, Oregon, Saturday, prompting President Trump to tweet that balaclava-wearing Antifa (“anti-fascist”) activists may be designated as a terrorist organization.

    In the week ahead: Michael Drejka is set to go on trial Monday in Florida on a manslaughter charge in a so-called “stand your ground” shooting death. On Tuesday, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis is scheduled to visit President Trump at the White House. And on Friday, Samsung’s Note 10 smartphone will go on sale.

    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.


  1. peter fonda on chopper motorcycle shutterstock 33840781

    ‘Easy Rider’ Peter Fonda Dies at Age 79

    He’ll always be the hippie drug entrepreneur who discovered the nation on his chopper motorcycle. But Peter Fonda, who died Friday in Los Angeles, enjoyed a half-century both behind and in front of the camera after 1969’s Easy Rider, for which he helped write the screenplay to earn an Oscar nominations. He also picked up a 1997 nod as the star of Ulee’s Gold.

    How is he being remembered? As a member of an iconic Hollywood family — the son of actor Henry Fonda — the world looked to his actress sister, Jane. “He was the talker of the family,” she said. “He went out laughing.”

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    How Black Americans Awakened a Sleeping Constitution 

    This month, America commemorates the arrival of the continent’s first African slaves 400 years ago. As part of that, journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones examines how the struggles that accompanied and followed slavery actually helped realize some of the nation’s ideals. African-Americans struggled and sacrificed for their rights until they were at least acknowledged to apply to all citizens. Some of America’s best freedom fighters, one scholar says, were slaves.

    Why does it matter? The country’s founding documents speak of freedom and equality, but early America was arguably a forced-labor-financed “slaveocracy.” Disenfranchised groups, from minorities to women to ex-convicts, are inheritors of Black Americans’ progress.

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    This Wall Street Plaintiff Is Pushing #MeToo Boundaries

    Jess Ravich was Sara Tirschwell’s boss and ex, and she agreed to sleep with him. That was the only way he’d supply her investment fund with clients, she alleges. Ravich denies coercion and the firm TCW Group has refused to settle Tirschwell’s $30 million suit alleging gender discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination. The case is threatening to become Wall Street’s first big #MeToo-era case to go to trial.

    Isn’t this like other harassment cases? No, because it’s not alleging that Ravich assaulted Tirschwell. Rather it delves into the murky legal territory of whether an employer’s coercive success merits punishment.

    Watch OZY’s Breaking Big on a Fox News anchor’s #MeToo contribution.

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    Does the Climate Apocalypse Need a 12-Step Program?

    Her name is Laura and she’s anxious about climate change. Alcoholics Anonymous inspired Laura Schmidt’s Good Grief Network, but it deals with a much different problem, OZY reports. Attendees work through 10 steps, rather than 12, coming to terms with global warming and what it will mean for their world. Schmidt’s program has taught over 250 attendees how to process their grief about the predicted ecological catastrophe. 

    Could it help solve the problem? A former mentor of Schmidt’s says if enough people can work through their anxiety, it could create the critical mass needed to radically combat what’s ailing the planet.

  5. Brain

    When 150,000 Implants Zap Human Brains, Issues Arise

    A half-century after neurophysiologist José Delgado stopped a bull from charging by clicking a remote, doctors are revisiting invasive electronic brain stimulation. The modern, safer version, called deep brain stimulation, has proved to be effective for movement disorders such as tremors; 150,000 patients have had the devices implanted. Researchers are also testing DBS’ potential to treat chronic pain, epilepsy and even Alzheimer’s disease.

    What are the risks? A few patients’ personalities have changed, becoming aggressive or even suicidal, notes Oxford moral philosophy researcher Jonathan Pugh, who adds that there’s a danger of “brainjacking,” in which hackers control the implanted devices.

    Check out OZY’s podcast on neurotechnology that might delete depression.

  6. jay z shutterstock 19761655

    Did Jay-Z Sell Out Colin Kaepernick’s Movement? 

    When Jay-Z spoke with Colin Kaepernick about the deal he struck with the NFL, a source reportedly said the conversation didn’t go well. Why? Perhaps because the billionaire rapper is providing the league with what Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid called a “Black face” to obscure that Kaepernick hasn’t been offered an NFL contract since he knelt during the national anthem in 2016.

    How does this affect team owners? Critics fear that they’ll point to the deal with Jay-Z, which requires them to donate money to causes that players care about, to avoid questions about excluding the quarterback — or supporting racially divisive politicians.