The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Hong Kong Arrests Activists, Prohibits Weekend Rally

    Before another weekend of planned protests, police in the semi-autonomous territory arrested pro-democracy organizers Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow on suspicion of inciting unauthorized demonstrations. Activist Andy Chan was detained at the airport while traveling to Japan and accused of rioting. Meanwhile, a major Saturday march was called off after authorities refused to sanction it — but that may not deter protesters angered by the government’s attempts to stifle dissent.

    Why is this weekend significant? It marks the five-year anniversary of Beijing’s decision to effectively orchestrate Hong Kong’s elections, a move activists consider “totally unacceptable.”

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    Florida Hunkers Down for ‘Monster’ Hurricane Dorian

    “It’s going to hit very hard, and it’s going to be very big.” That’s how President Donald Trump described the rapidly evolving storm, which could become a Category 4 — with winds up to 140 miles per hour — when it hits the Sunshine State on Labor Day. While experts say its course remains unclear, with no evacuations ordered despite Gov. Ron DeSantis’ declaration of a state of emergency, locals have been stockpiling food and goods in anticipation.

    How will the Federal Emergency Management Agency handle it? An official said Dorian will likely cause major damage, but the agency is “prepared for a big response.”

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    Boris Johnson Seeks to Accelerate Brexit Talks

    Still taking heat for his move to suspend Parliament for five weeks, which critics say is aimed at pushing through his Brexit strategy, the British prime minister urged both his country and the European Union to “step up the tempo” on withdrawal talks. To achieve that goal, the British government says it’ll hold twice-weekly meetings in Brussels next month ahead of the Oct. 31 deadline.

    What could his opponents do? Rebel Conservatives and opposition lawmakers have only days to make a plan to prevent a hard Brexit — but observers say their cooperation could produce a “strange political rainbow” that reshapes British politics.

    Don’t miss OZY’s Special Briefing on the push to fulfill campaign promises.

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    James Comey Rebuked Over Leaked Memos

    In a long-anticipated report released yesterday, the U.S. Justice Department’s inspector general concluded that the former FBI director violated agency policy when he leaked his memos on the private conversations he had with President Trump. But the report also found that none of the information Comey shared, which eventually lead to special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, was classified. Department officials say they won’t prosecute him.

    How have Comey’s critics taken the news? Some say it proves the “sneaky, leaky” former FBI chief resorted to disingenuous tactics to pursue a political vendetta under the cover of patriotic duty.

  5. Also Important…

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found more than 900 cases of mumps in adult migrant detention centers across the country over the past year. Protests continued to ravage the Indonesian region of Papua yesterday as demonstrators set buildings on fire and police used tear gas to disperse them. And a new United Nations draft report warns that warming oceans and rising sea levels seriously threaten fish populations.

    Try This: Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB Quiz.

    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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    There Is No ‘Gay Gene,’ Study Finds

    In a massive new study published yesterday in the journal Science, an international team of researchers said they discovered a number of genes that influence sexuality. But so does a person’s environment, making it “effectively impossible” to predict sexual behavior based solely on genetics. The survey of 470,000 mostly White British people of both sexes did, however, link same-sex sexual behavior with genes responsible for smell, male baldness and risk-taking.

    How comprehensive was the survey? Experts say it’s limited because of its focus on people of European ancestry, but also noted that “it’s at least a first step.”

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    Huawei Joins China’s A.I. ‘National Team’

    Amid trade tensions with the United States, China has named telecom giant Huawei, as well as video surveillance firm Hikvision Digital Technology, as two new additions to the nation’s artificial intelligence initiative. Since the start of the effort in 2017, Beijing has assembled a total of 15 private companies and research institutions to develop AI projects that will help close the technological gap with the U.S. by 2030.

    What’s the bigger picture? China has focused on integrating facial recognition into citizens’ daily lives, leading to increasing levels of widespread surveillance.

    Read this OZY piece on the hidden PR disaster that led to Huawei’s crisis.

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    Indian Kids Are Arranging Marriages for Mom and Dad

    In India, where 88 percent of marriages are arranged, remarrying has long been frowned upon. But that’s slowly changing: Thanks to shifting cultural norms, adult children of widowed parents — as well as staff at old-age homes and nonprofits across the country — are arranging meetups and creating online profiles for lonely loved ones, OZY reports. With people living longer than ever before, the realities of modern life are increasingly trumping the conservative traditions of yesteryear.

    What’s driving the trend? Taboos over remarrying are slowly disappearing as India ages, leading to more open conversations about loneliness and mental health.

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    Tokyo Ranked World’s Safest City for Third Straight Year

    The Safe Cities Index 2019, released by The Economist, again ranked Tokyo as the safest city, followed by Singapore and Osaka. The report lauded the Japanese capital’s “low crime levels” as well as its “infrastructure designed to withstand natural shocks and low risk of computer malware.” Researchers credited Japan’s low inward migration and low birth rate, which help a metropolis like Tokyo maintain “relative safety.”

    Is Asia the safest continent? Not necessarily: The study underscored the huge gaps in safety standards there, and suggested that urbanization leads to further challenges in countries with fast-rising populations such as China and India.

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    Arrest Warrant Issued for NBA Star DeMarcus Cousins

    The Los Angeles Lakers center is wanted in Alabama on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, filed Thursday after his ex-girlfriend — also the mother of his 7-year-old son — sought a restraining order. She reportedly gave local police a recording of an altercation with Cousins in which he threatened to “put a bullet” in her head. The NBA released a statement saying it would conduct its own investigation.

    What’s next? Even if the league suspends Cousins, it may not affect his playing time: He’s expected to miss the entire 2019-2020 season after tearing his ACL this month.

    Read this OZY Fast Forward about Afghanistan’s sports revival.