The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. iranian missiles shutterstock 681421708

    US Ratchets Up Pressure on Iran After Saudi Oil Attacks

    After Saudi officials unveiled what they claimed was evidence that Iran was behind last weekend’s incidents, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — in Saudi Arabia for talks with the crown prince and defense minister — called the attacks “an act of war.”  Pompeo toned down his rhetoric on Thursday when he swore to build a coalition against Iran that is ‘aimed at achieving peace.’ Foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, vows that Tehran won’t hesitate to defend the country if attacked. 

    What’s next? Observers are wondering whether Iran’s president and foreign minister will appear at the U.N. General Assembly in New York next week, since they’ve yet to secure U.S. visas but have been tentatively welcomed by Trump.

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    Ousted Tunisian Dictator Ben Ali Dies at Age 83

    The man who once ruled Tunisia with an iron fist, Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, passed away on Thursday from prostate cancer. His autocratic rule and extravagant lifestyle compelled Tunisians to rise up against him, triggering the Arab Spring in 2011. Ben Ali died in Saudi Arabia, where he lived in exile after fleeing Tunisia. 

    How will he be remembered? As a brutal autocrat who ran a police state. But Tunisians have moved on from his rule, having just completed their second democratic election since the Jasmine Revolution. 

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    Canada’s Trudeau Apologizes for Brownface Photo

    Just weeks away from a general election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he’s “deeply sorry” for donning brownface makeup at a 2001 costume party. Obtained by Time magazine, the yearbook image depicts Trudeau — then a 29-year-old teacher in Vancouver — dressed as Aladdin for an Arabian Nights-themed school gala. The 47-year-old progressive, who’s seeking another term Oct. 21, also admitted to wearing a blackface costume for a high school talent show.

    Could this sink the prime minister? The signs are bleak: Beyond multiple accounts of cultural insensitivity, Trudeau was also mired in a political scandal earlier this year.

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    Fed Cuts Rates Again Amid Financial Warning Signs

    “We don’t know.” That’s how Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell described the U.S. central bank’s confidence in whether it’ll need to continue cushioning the economy from a global slowdown — right after unveiling the second interest rate cut in two months. Bank officials were split over whether the quarter-percent reduction was the right move, while Powell suggested more cuts could follow.

    What’s the major challenge? Since the economic dangers of Trump’s trade war with China are out of its control, the Fed has few other options to try to keep the economy humming.

    Don’t miss OZY’s Special Briefing about the next global recession.

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    Tokyo Court Clears Japanese Execs Over Fukushima Disaster

    A district court has found three Tokyo Electric Power executives, including ex-chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, not guilty of failing to prevent the March 2011 triple meltdown. Prosecutors claimed the men knew the risks posed by massive tsunamis — like the one that washed over the plant following a magnitude 9.0 earthquake — but the judge said they wouldn’t have been able to implement preventative measures, anyway. It was the only criminal case stemming from the disaster.

    Is this chapter now closed? Not exactly: It could be several more decades before the company spots and scraps all the melted fuel from the reactor cores.

  6. Also Important…

    At least 30 civilians were killed late Wednesday when an Afghan security operation — backed by the U.S. — accidentally targeted farmers instead of ISIS militants. Warning of an “epidemic” of youngsters vaping, India banned the sale of e-cigarettes yesterday. And Indonesia’s legislature is poised to pass a criminal code featuring a raft of new restrictions, including bans on insulting the president and on unmarried couples living together.

    #OZYfact: Each year, the world produces a staggering $62.5 billion in e-waste. Read more on OZY.

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


  1. oshawa gm shutterstock 1440460370

    Hundreds of Canadian Auto Workers Affected by US Strike

    Thanks to the United Auto Workers strike south of the border, 1,850 employees at the General Motors plant in Oshawa, Ontario, have been told to stay home as the company shuttered a pickup truck assembly line Wednesday. A union official said the strike has disrupted the shipment of automotive parts to Oshawa, adding that the entire plant could be shut down later this week.

    Will the Canadians be compensated? GM must continue to pay full salaries in Oshawa because the plant is closing at the end of the year, but employees at other Canadian factories might soon see layoffs.

    Read this OZY profile about the Indian store worker fighting for the right to sit.

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    How Diversity Mandates Block Female Medical Research

    Hoping to level out a historical bias toward using male test subjects — which led to gaps in research into women’s health — North American scientific institutions introduced an equal gender requirement. But researchers now say work in vital fields like pregnancy, postpartum depression and menopause struggles to get funding when it doesn’t include male subjects, OZY reports. Instead, private companies are sponsoring and supporting their own studies.

    How many people does it affect? Women make up more than half the population, but researchers say less than 10 percent of studies focus on female-specific issues.

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    Man Who Accused Kevin Spacey of Sexual Assault Dies

    The anonymous accuser, a massage therapist who alleged he was forced to grab the actor’s genitals twice during a massage at a private Malibu residence in 2016, has died, according to a court notice filed by Spacey’s attorney. No further details were provided. Despite the actor’s objection that the plaintiff’s identity was shielded — “John Doe” filed the case — a federal judge had allowed it to proceed.

    What about other misconduct cases? Criminal charges against Spacey in another case were recently dropped after the accuser, a teenage busboy, stopped cooperating.

    Check out OZY’s original series on #MeToo going global.

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    Will North Korea Build Its Own Bitcoin?

    A North Korean official claims Pyongyang is “in the very early stages” of creating its own cryptocurrency to sidestep international sanctions, adding that foreign companies have signed contracts to develop blockchain systems there. If confirmed, it wouldn’t be the Hermit Kingdom’s first brush with the technology: State-sponsored hackers are believed to have collected more than $2 billion in digital currency to pay for its weapons program.

    Can Pyongyang really do it? Experts say there’s “absolutely no doubt” it has the expertise to build its own cryptocurrency, though similar cases — like Venezuela’s failed Petro coin — show it won’t be easy.

  5. felipe rivero vazquez

    Pittsburgh Pitcher Felipe Vazquez Admits to Statutory Rape

    The Pirates All-Star was arrested Tuesday on felony charges and confessed that he “had sex, but not really” with a 13-year-old girl in August 2017. According to a criminal complaint, Vázquez said the sexual encounter in his car — while parked in the teen’s Pennsylvania driveway — was brief, and that he’d previously exchanged explicit images and texts with the girl. Those were later found by the victim’s mother, who then called police.

    What’s next for Vázquez? He’ll face charges in Pennsylvania before being extradited to Florida, where the incident was reported.