The Presidential Daily Brief


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    U.S. President Praises French Counterpart as Aides Slam G-7

    They have “a special relationship.” That’s what President Donald Trump said about his host at the Group of Seven summit at the beach resort city of Biarritz Saturday. But before President Emmanuel Macron had his U.S. counterpart over for lunch, Trump’s aides criticized France’s agenda for leaders of the world’s economic powers as “niche,” like climate change and gender equality, to please a French audience.

    What are they doing today? New British Prime Minister Boris Johnson basked in Trump’s adulation over breakfast before the seven leaders gathered to discuss the threat of a global economic downturn.

    See how OZY’s Donald Dossier connects Greenland with China.

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    The US Economy Hangs on the Next Tweet

    After a week of conflicting presidential statements on America’s economic health, the storm arrived Friday. China announced new tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. goods, enraging President Donald Trump, who announced retaliatory tariffs and asked if Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell or Chinese President Xi Jinping was “the bigger enemy.” American businesses were “hereby ordered,” he further tweeted, to seek “an alternative to China” including “making your products in the USA.”

    What was the fallout? While the president can’t enforce such edicts, the grim global trade signals spooked investors, with the Dow index dropping 2.37 percent.

    Read OZY’s look at how America might borrow to save the economy.

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    Is the World Helpless Against Amazon Fires?

    In one week, 9,507 new fires were detected in the world’s most vital rain forest — the global “lung” that absorbs carbon dioxide and helps counter climate change. That’s 83 percent more blazes than last year, and it’s caused global alarm. Environmentalists blame Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, for encouraging deforestation. In turn, he accused them of arson and chided other leaders for voicing distress over Brazil’s “internal” problem.

    What is Brazil doing about the fires? On Friday, amid international condemnation, Bolsonaro pledged to send troops to battle the blazes, calling it “our duty” to fight “criminal activities.”

    Read OZY’s feature about the scientists leaving Brazil.

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    Project Finds Thousands More Philippines Drug War Deaths

    Authorities say that only 8,500 people have been killed in President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal drug war. But investigative journalists have found that half of the 30,000 reported homicides during that time were connected to illicit narcotics. Hundreds of killings have gone unreported, suggesting that police or contracted hit squads have clandestinely assassinated people not reflected in the records.

    Why does it matter? The International Criminal Court is looking to bring Duterte to account, while Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Indonesia are considering adopting his take-no-prisoners methods.

    Don’t miss this OZY feature about the Syrian regime’s suspected illegal drug trade.

  5. Also Important…

    Israel has admitted bombing targets in Syria, saying it was preventing Iranian drone strikes on its territory. Britain’s Prince Andrew says he did not “see, witness or suspect” any of the sex crimes his late friend, financier Jeffrey Epstein, is suspected of. And police in Mexico have arrested a 22-year-old Minnesota man sought in the killing of his mother and father, former NFL lineman Barry Bennett.

    In the week ahead: The creative and the curious will gather in the Nevada desert today for the nine-day Burning Man festival. U.S. sanctions against Moscow for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain go into effect on Monday. That same day, the U.S. Open tennis tournament begins in Queens, New York.

    OZY is hiring! We’re looking for an analytical and globally minded tech reporter to sniff out today’s most important stories in science, technology and health. Check out our jobs page and read the description here.


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    Why We Let Social Media Hurt Us

    Welcome to the “conditioning zone.” That’s where addicted gamblers endlessly feed cash into slot machines in hopes of a reward that when it comes, usually doesn’t justify the price of playing. Marxist author and broadcaster Richard Seymour argues that Twitter and Facebook are no less purposefully addictive and destructive, but their appeal is more widespread than gambling or heroin. In many cases people perversely court self-destruction, as when popular users try to defend an outrageous tweet.

    Are the algorithms to blame? Not entirely, Seymour writes. Users abet the addiction, ignoring their painful failures while joining digital lynch mobs. Toxicity, he says, is something “users bring to the game.”

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    Nigeria Has Almost Won Its Polio Battle

    Nigeria is one of three countries where polio poses a grave threat, but that’s about to change thanks to a massive grass-roots vaccination campaign that has united traditional northern leaders with a network of vaccine advocates, clerics and 20,000 women. The mediators have been vital in winning the trust of the Muslim state of Kano, where inoculation skeptics once held sway, nurturing 80 percent of the world’s infections.  

    What obstacles remain? Some areas are still under the sway of Boko Haram militants, but even there, combat-ready medics are bringing vaccine drops for young kids. 

    Don’t miss OZY’s True Story about getting paid to “spread” measles.

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    Swimming Upstream Into the Culture War

    Many Muslim women have found the recent burkini boom to be a welcome opportunity to resume a love they gave up as children: swimming. The modest swimwear allows them to observe cultural norms while diving into the ocean or local pool — and a deep cultural divide. American women interviewed by the Huffington Post reported being told their attire is “unhealthy” or prohibited by facility rules. Some of their detractors have even called police or told burkini-clad women, “Go back where you came from.”

    Are they giving up? Not today. Many expressed a determination to assert their right to swim — and pave the way for future generations.

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    Inside the Fight for Spider-Man’s Soul

    With Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige apparently not producing future Spider-Man movies following a dispute with Sony, which owns the superhero’s rights, film critic Caroline Siede extols the split’s advantages. It could actually free Spider-Man for fewer franchise-focused stories and web-slinging outside of Marvel’s constricting Cinematic Universe, where Spidey often operates in Tony Stark’s metallic glimmer.

    What does this mean? Some reports indicate Sony is planning more arachnophilic features starring Tom Holland, who wowed in this summer’s Spider-Man: Far From Home — but if a Marvel-Sony deal concludes as expected, he won’t be appearing with his Marvel-ous comrades.

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    This Guru Is High on Your Life — and Money

    An ayahuasca trip in Peru turned Aubrey Marcus into the millennial Tony Robbins, and he wants you to reach “Total Human Optimization.” The 38-year-old credits that psychedelic experience in 2011 with rethinking his path and motivations. Now Marcus has set himself up as a life coach under the Fit for Service brand. Everyone, he argues, operates below THO while cranky, tired or depressed, but for a few grand, he’ll sell you nutritional supplements and wellness gear to eliminate those humps.

    Is it taking off? Revenue figures are elusive, but celebs such as comedian Joe Rogan are partners or endorsers, a testament, critics say, to Marcus’ entrepreneurial parents and stepmother.