The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. saudi arabia iran shutterstock 750446368

    Saudi Arabia Points Finger at Iran for Attack on Saudi Aramco

    Saudi Defense Minister Turki Al-Malki said the attack on the kingdom’s oil facilities last weekend was “unquestionably” sponsored by Iran, yet he stopped short of saying that it was launched from Iranian soil. Although the Houthis — a Shiite militia at war with Riyadh in Yemen — claimed responsibility for the attack, Al-Malki said there was no way 18 drones and seven cruise missiles could’ve been launched from their direction. 

    How has Trump responded? By ordering more sanctions on Tehran, which denies the attack. Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence says a military strike is still possible. 

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    Israel’s Top Parties Deadlocked After Vote

    After yesterday’s unprecedented repeat election — and with results still being counted — the parties of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and rival Benny Gantz appear neck-and-neck. With neither poised to secure a majority, both pledged to launch coalition talks to form a government. The results could make a political kingmaker out of former Netanyahu ally Avigdor Lieberman, who’s already demanded that any potential partners commit to more liberal, secularist policies.

    When will Israel finally get a government? Once the president taps a party leader to form one, they’ll have six weeks to do so.

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    Trump to Revoke California’s Right to Regulate Emissions

    President Donald Trump is expected to rescind California’s authority to set stricter air pollution standards for vehicles — the latest salvo in a showdown between the White House and the nation’s most populous state. Local authorities have already promised to fight the move in court. Meanwhile, 13 states and the District of Columbia have said they’d adopt California’s standards as the federal government rolls back environmental regulations.

    What does this mean for carmakers? They can expect prolonged uncertainty amid the legal battle, which could split the U.S. auto market and force them to tailor products on a state-by-state basis.

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    Saudis Seek to Calm Fears Over Oil Supply

    Oil prices dipped Wednesday after Riyadh pledged that production would return to normal within weeks following Saturday’s attacks on two Saudi facilities. Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said the kingdom, which typically pumps up to 12 million barrels per day, had restored 50 percent of production lost after the incidents. He added that Saudi Aramco’s highly anticipated initial public offering — planned for sometime in the next 12 months — is still on track.

    What’s next? Officials are expected to unveil fresh evidence today backing up speculation that Iran was behind the attacks.

    Check out OZY’s Special Briefing on the latest oil turmoil.

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    Impeachment Hearing Leaves Democrats Frustrated

    Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski made life difficult yesterday for Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee during the panel’s first impeachment inquiry. Throughout his combative testimony, the staunch Trump ally sidestepped questions and refused to say anything about his interactions with the president that wasn’t already detailed in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. “He’s filibustering,” said Democratic chairman Jerrold Nadler.

    Why does it matter? Tuesday’s hearing revealed how difficult it will be for Democrats to deliver on calls from their base to impeach Trump.

  6. Also Important…

    The U.S. abortion rate has fallen to its lowest level since 1973, when the procedure was legalized nationwide. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Wednesday that the risk of a no-deal Brexit is “very real.” And former Backstreet Boy Nick Carter has taken out a restraining order against his brother Aaron over his “increasingly alarming behavior.”

    #OZYfact: Up to 57 percent of Americans have received a surprise medical bill. 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.


  1. pro edward snowden demonstration shutterstock 160092779

    US Sues Edward Snowden Over New Book

    The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit yesterday against the infamous former CIA and NSA employee for violating non-disclosure agreements in his new memoir, Permanent Record. The government claims Snowden, an intelligence analyst who leaked details of U.S. surveillance programs at home and abroad, should have submitted his book to his former employers for clearance before publishing it. But his lawyer says Snowden didn’t believe they would review it “in good faith.”

    What happens if Snowden loses the case? His memoir would remain for sale, but all proceeds would go to the very government he spoke out against.

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    Toyota, Supplier Invest $800M in Texas Factories

    The Japanese carmaker announced Tuesday it would spend $391 million to upgrade its assembly plant in San Antonio — part of a broader plan to invest $13 billion in the U.S. over five years. While the cash injection is expected to boost the factory’s competitive edge, it won’t create any new jobs. But through a separate $400 million investment, Toyota supplier Aisin AW will hire 900 workers by 2023 at a new San Antonio auto parts plant.

    How will Toyota improve efficiency? It says it will use “various advanced technologies” on the assembly lines building Tundra and Tacoma pickups.

    Don’t miss OZY’s Flashback about how Chevrolet ruled Uzbekistan.

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    India Clamps Down on Kashmir’s Mosques

    Secular India has historically avoided inflaming religious tensions in its conflict with Kashmir. But things have changed since New Delhi’s revocation of Kashmir’s special status last month, OZY reports: Now, clerics are being monitored and arrested on suspicion that they’re using their mosques to spread “anti-India” sentiment. Experts say the government is blurring the line it once maintained between religion and security practices.

    Could this strategy backfire? While it hasn’t yet provoked a violent response, analysts warn long-term detentions could risk fueling widespread anger as Muslims feel increasingly under attack.

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    Colleagues Mourn Journalism Legend Cokie Roberts

    “Cokie was a giant.” That’s how CNN anchor Jake Tapper described the award-winning reporter, who died of cancer Tuesday at age 75. He was among many journalists and public figures — from ex-President Barack Obama to actress Jamie Lee Curtis — to offer moving tributes to the former NPR and ABC reporter. One columnist wrote that Roberts “made the public square a better place.”

    How will she be remembered? Besides establishing a reputation as a tough reporter and a keen observer of U.S. politics, she also helped pave the way for a generation of women in journalism.

    Read OZY’s profile of the female news anchor fighting Bulgaria’s brain drain.

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    Cancer Survivor Swims Into History Through English Channel

    Sarah Thomas became the first person to swim the English Channel four times nonstop, covering a total distance of 130 miles. The 37-year-old Colorado native began her historic swim early Sunday and left the water in Dover 54 hours later after overcoming sleep deprivation, fatigue and a jellyfish sting on her face. Thomas planned the marathon swim before undergoing chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation for an aggressive form of breast cancer last year, and she dedicated her record to fellow cancer survivors.

    What’s next for Thomas? Relaxation, following celebratory champagne and chocolate: “I’m really just pretty numb,” she said, “but I feel just mostly stunned.”