The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Rays of Light Emerge After Friday’s Trade War Storm

    It’s possible that China and the U.S. could put Friday’s dueling tariff declarations — plus President Donald Trump’s “order” for American companies to abandon China — behind them. Visiting France for the G-7 summit, Trump admitted having “second thoughts” about his threats, and yesterday Chinese Vice Premier Liu He said his country “firmly” opposes the escalation and seeks “calm” negotiations.

    What’s next? Trump says Beijing has offered to restart negotiations, which apparently cheered investors as U.S. stock futures rose after a precipitous global market slide that began on Friday.

    Read OZY’s Donald Dossier on why Greenland still matters.

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    G-7 Leaders May Be Near Deal to Tackle Amazon Fires

    Despite diminished expectations of concordance among the world’s major economic powers in Biarritz, France, host President Emmanuel Macron is optimistic about plans to help cope with the thousands of fires ravaging the Amazon rainforest. Macron told journalists “there’s a real convergence” on the issue, which threatens one of the planet’s best defenses against climate change.

    What else happened? Macron shocked many by inviting Iran’s foreign minister to the sidelines of the gathering, prompting President Trump to say he was forewarned and “respected” the move, adding, “We’re looking to make Iran rich again.”

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    Arrests, Pro-Democracy Protests Continue in Hong Kong

    Amid the 12th week of anti-government tensions, police used warning shots, water cannons and tear gas to curb the latest unrest that led to 36 arrests, including that of a 12-year-old. A government statement warned that “the escalating illegal and violent acts” could “push Hong Kong to the verge of a very dangerous situation.” Meanwhile, China’s state media asserted Beijing’s “responsibility to intervene.”

    How is China retaliating? Facing one of the gravest threats to its authority in years, China has reportedly been detaining journalists, lawyers and diplomats and inspecting their phones at its border with Hong Kong.

    OZY explains Hong Kong’s linguistic battle.

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    Australia Aims to Block Terrorists’ ‘Glory’

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government will cut access — at least temporarily — to websites that let terrorists “glorify their crimes” by hosting extremist content during attacks, such as the livestreamed New Zealand mosque massacre in March. Speaking in France at the G-7 summit, Morrison outlined plans to crack down on known havens for extremist content, like 8chan, and perhaps even mainstream platforms like Facebook.

    What are the downsides? First, there’s a concern about broadly banning sites harmlessly used by others. And it might not work: Those with virtual private networks could easily bypass a national ban.

  5. Also Important…

    Conservative former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh, who recently declared that President Trump needs to be punched “in the face every single day,” has announced he’ll challenge the incumbent for the GOP nomination. A small plane and a helicopter collided in midair over Spain’s Mediterranean island of Majorca yesterday, killing seven people. And Iran says it has sold the oil aboard a tanker being pursued by the U.S. that was recently released by Gibraltar after being seized in July for allegedly violating sanctions against Syria.

    #OZYfact: Suspicious Minds, Elvis Presley’s final No. 1 (and comeback) hit, turns 50 this month. Read more on OZY.

    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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    Report: Trump Proposed Nuking Hurricanes

    He’s asking the tough questions. That’s one aide’s take on President Trump’s reported suggestions during briefings that U.S.-bound hurricanes might be diverted with the help of well-placed nuclear blasts. “His objective is not bad,” the aide told Axios of Trump’s proposal that “we drop a bomb inside the eye of the hurricane and it disrupts it.”

    So it’s not a good idea? Aside from the possibility that it wouldn’t change the storm’s trajectory, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration noted: “The released radioactive fallout would fairly quickly move with tradewinds and cause devastating environmental problems.”

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    ‘They Shut It Down’ on TV — Then ICE Did It IRL

    In a legal fight with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a nonprofit says it has exposed how a TV show can alter U.S. immigration policy. In the current season of Orange Is the New Black, a migrant in detention cautions a fellow inmate about calling the real toll-free National Immigration Detention Hotline, warning that if “Big Brother” finds out, “they shut it down.” Two weeks later, the hotline was disabled, according to Freedom for Immigrants, the nonprofit operating the service.

    What’s being done about it? Last week the group sent ICE a cease-and-desist letter signed by members of Congress and OITNB cast members, seeking restored access.

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    Floating Pumice ‘Island’ Could Revive Great Barrier Reef

    Soon after a couple sailing to Fiji posted on social media that a giant pumice raft was floating toward Australia, scientists said that it could aid the climate-ravaged Great Barrier Reef. NASA said the raft — with stones as big as basketballs and covering 58 square miles, roughly the size of Washington, D.C. — likely formed after an underwater volcano erupted near Tonga.

    How can it replenish the reef? Scientists say the “island” could drift for more than seven months and by the time it reaches the reef it will be teeming with organisms the coral needs.

    This OZY piece asks if polygamy could save coral.

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    Is Bosnia Becoming a Saudi Foothold in Europe?

    The money trail suggests Riyadh is serious: Its investment in the Balkan nation has tripled since 2007. In 2017 it poured $22 million into development projects and in 2018 it spent $42 million on Bosnian arms. But not everyone welcomes the cash. Despite having the world’s highest youth unemployment rate, OZY reports, many young Bosnians are concerned that Saudi influence on society will outstrip any economic benefits.

    Why the concern? The money comes with strings attached, such as banning alcohol and pork in new shopping malls, leaving Bosnia’s more liberal Muslims worried about the growing influence of Wahhabism, Saudi Arabia’s prevailing ultraconservative Islamic sect.

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    Andrew Luck Quits, Stunning Indianapolis Colts

    After passing for 4,593 yards and 39 touchdowns last season, the NFL’s 2018 comeback player of the year endured boos during a preseason game when news leaked that he was retiring. Plagued by injuries to his shoulders, ribs, abdomen, kidney, calf and ankle, the 29-year-old quit just as fans envisioned their team in Super Bowl contention. In an impromptu press conference after the game Luck called the decision “the hardest of my life.”

    Does he owe the Colts a refund? While he could be forced to relinquish $24.8 million under his current contract, NFL sources say the league reached a settlement that’ll let him keep the money.

    Read OZY’s take on how the tide is turning for college football.