The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Johnson & Johnson to Pay $572M in Opioid Ruling

    In a landmark decision yesterday, an Oklahoma judge ruled that the pharmaceutical giant must pay the state for its aggressive marketing campaigns’ role in fueling an opioid crisis that has claimed 6,000 lives over two decades. It’s the first time a court has held a drug company responsible for mass opioid deaths, giving plaintiffs in around 2,000 other lawsuits hope that they might succeed in wresting compensation from manufacturers.

    How significant is this victory? While it sets a crucial precedent, the amount awarded falls short of the $17 billion Oklahoma sought — and is only enough to finance a year’s worth of resources in the state’s anti-opioid fight.

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    Report: Brazil Will Reject Amazon Rainforest Aid

    Suggesting that French President Emmanuel Macron worry about “his home and his colonies,” a top adviser to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro told local media his country would reject the $22 million pledged by G-7 nations to fight Brazil’s forest fires. “Thanks, but maybe those resources are more relevant to reforest Europe,” said Onyx Lorenzoni, Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, adding a jab about this year’s blaze at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

    Would that money have helped? Perhaps the brightest part of the weekend’s G-7 summit, that amount — meant to finance firefighting planes — has nevertheless been described as “chump change.”

    Don’t miss OZY’s Special Briefing on the global meetup.

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    Trump’s Mixed Signals on China Stoke Trade Volatility

    “We are on Mr. Trump’s Wild Ride.” That’s how one Florida toy manufacturer described President Donald Trump’s apparent about-face on his threats to punish China with more tariffs. Yesterday, U.S. stocks advanced more than 1 percent — just days after the Dow and the S&P 500 sank on news he’d hike duties on $550 billion in Chinese imports. Officials in Beijing have also been left guessing what Trump’s next move might be in a trade war one analyst said has “more plot twists than a Quentin Tarantino movie.”

    What are the consequences? While Trump says that’s just his style, experts suggest his unpredictability is eroding confidence among Chinese officials that he’s capable of negotiating a deal free of political intrigue.

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    Hong Kong’s Lam Remains Defiant After Weekend Violence

    Embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam spoke out Tuesday for the first time since another weekend of violent protests gripped China’s semi-autonomous territory. While claiming she’d met with protesters as part of her pledge to launch a dialogue, Lam also said the government won’t meet their demands — which include the full withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill, as well as an independent investigation into a police crackdown on demonstrators.

    Is a state of emergency on the way? Lam didn’t directly answer whether her government would declare one, but said authorities should consider “all laws” in their attempt to stem the violence.

  5. Also Important…

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the U.S. would need to withdraw its sanctions on Tehran before any potential meeting with President Trump. Authorities in Beijing have formally arrested a Chinese Australian writer who’s been held since January, and charged him with espionage. And Thailand has released images of King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s new female consort, a 34-year-old major general, firing a weapon in combat fatigues and preparing to jump out of a plane.

    #OZYfact: Nearly half of Hispanic, African American and Asian students are likely to avoid crowded places or go out less often in order to feel safer. Read more on OZY.

    OZY is hiring! We’re looking for an ambitious journalist to cover business and finance through unique, analytical and globally minded write-ups. Check out our jobs page and read the description here.


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    Indonesia Unveils Location of New Capital

    As it sinks further into the sea and struggles with crippling traffic, Jakarta will cede its place as the island nation’s capital to an as yet unidentified city in the province of East Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. By announcing the move yesterday — which was met with mixed reactions — President Joko Widodo made good on a pledge delivered shortly after his reelection in April. While East Kalimantan will be Indonesia’s new political center, Jakarta will remain its economic hub.

    Is it unusual to move a capital city? Egypt and South Korea are attempting to ease pressure on their current capitals through similar moves, while the capitals of Australia and Brazil were both essentially built from scratch.

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    Boeing’s Woes Are Helping High-Speed Rail Get On Track

    The global aviation industry has lost $4.1 billion since the Boeing 737 MAX was grounded after two crashes that left over 300 dead. But rail services in the U.S. have spotted the silver lining, OZY reports, with train companies racing to grab some of that market. Flight anxiety is a boon for emerging high-speed rail firms, particularly in the densely populated Northeast corridor and in California.

    Is rail here to stay? Amtrak says demand has never been higher, in part thanks to passengers’ concerns over their carbon footprints, while investors are happy to jump on board.

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    Scientists Race to Save the Northern White Rhino

    The entire species, which is down to just two surviving females, might receive a new lease on life. After the last northern male rhino died last year, researchers in Italy used its frozen sperm to successfully fertilize seven eggs extracted from the living females. While success isn’t guaranteed, researchers say the eggs are in better shape than those from a recent southern white rhino trial. One activist called it a “historic day” for the species.

    Why does it matter? Whatever scientists learn from this assisted reproduction procedure could be applied to other species facing extinction.

    Don’t miss OZY’s profile of the man challenging Kenya’s “big conservation lie.”

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    Harvey Weinstein Trial Postponed After Fresh Indictment

    The disgraced Hollywood mogul’s sex crimes trial, due to begin Sept. 9, has been rescheduled for January after two more charges were brought against him. Prosecutors say the new indictment was necessary to let Sopranos actress Annabelle Sciorra testify about her claim that Weinstein raped her in her Manhattan apartment in 1993. He pleaded not guilty during Monday’s arraignment.

    Why add another indictment now? It’s seen as insurance to help prove the most serious charge Weinstein faces, predatory sexual assault, which requires at least two victims — and carries a more severe sentence.

    Don’t miss OZY’s original series about #MeToo going global.

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    Williams Trounces Sharapova at US Open

    “It’s an incredibly tough draw.” So said tennis superstar Serena Williams of meeting longtime rival Maria Sharapova in yesterday’s first-round matchup at New York’s Arthur Ashe Stadium. Williams, who handily defeated the Russian 6-1, 6-1, is eyeing a 24th Grand Slam title. The 37-year-old sparked controversy in last year’s tournament by calling the umpire a “cheat” and a “liar” in her loss to upstart Naomi Osaka — who was among the 24,000 fans watching the match, along with boxer Mike Tyson and actor Alec Baldwin.

    How competitive is the Williams-Sharapova rivalry? While it’s drawn plenty of attention since their first meeting in 2003, Williams has won 19 out of 21 matches.