The Presidential Daily Brief


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    As Dems Dig In, White House Scrambles for Strategy

    “Everybody’s just absolutely thrilled.” That’s how one insider reportedly described the mood within the White House as Democrats ramp up their impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. But while Republicans don’t seem prepared to ditch him, others believe there’s little administration consensus about how to weather this political storm. Meanwhile, House Democrats are determined: They’ve subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the first in what’s likely to be a series of other requests.

    What about voters? Recent polls have found that support for impeachment has increased — but also that public opinion is evenly split.

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    Afghan Vote Marked by Security Fears, Low Turnout

    For the fourth time since the Taliban was toppled in 2001, voters in Afghanistan hit the polls yesterday to elect a president. But the violence promised by the militant group manifested in attacks on polling stations — and only one in five voters turned out. Incumbent President Ashraf Ghani’s considered to be the frontrunner, but at least some of the country’s 9.6 million voters don’t seem enthusiastic about any of the 18 candidates. “All of them have been so disappointing,” said one security guard. Preliminary results are expected Oct. 17.

    Is there a silver lining? Despite the chaos and corruption that’s plagued Afghanistan, some say voting is the most effective way “to show the Taliban we are not afraid of them.”

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    Will China Let Hong Kong Spoil Its Anniversary?

    The Communist Party will mark its 70th anniversary Tuesday by showing off its military and economic prowess. But the protests in semi-autonomous Hong Kong show the “Chinese dream” isn’t universally celebrated within the borders of the People’s Republic. Once again, weekend demonstrations there were broken up with tear gas. Meanwhile, a University of Hong Kong survey has revealed that the number of local residents who identify as Chinese has fallen to a record low.

    What’s at stake? Broadcasts of demonstrators desecrating symbols of Beijing’s power could make the temptation to reimpose order irresistible — especially for a government that thinks nothing of banning pigeons during its observance of a national holiday.

    Read OZY’s look at WeChat’s propaganda potential.

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    Move Over, Greenback: Here Comes Official Crypto

    Since World War II, it’s been all about the Benjamins. The supremacy of the U.S. dollar as a stable global currency has survived the briefly formidable euro, among many other threats. But now, the central banks of the world are entertaining the idea of their own digital-only currencies. That could mean person-to-person transactions in minutes, or even seconds, with little or no fees — a revolution that could leave the greenback behind.

    Which currency could break the ice? The People’s Bank of China is aiming to launch a digital version of the yuan by early next year, promising to facilitate trade, especially with developing nations.

  5. Also Important…

    Kurt Volker, the U.S. special envoy for Ukraine who’d become ensnared in Washington’s whistleblower controversy, abruptly resigned yesterday. A U.S. federal judge has blocked a Trump administration rule allowing authorities to detain migrant children for an indefinite period of time. And hundreds of thousands of Canadians joined a nationwide climate strike yesterday.

    In the week ahead: On Sunday, Austrians will head to the polls in parliamentary elections that could vault ex-Chancellor Sebastian Kurz back into power. Major League Baseball playoffs begin Tuesday, with 10 teams slotted to face off. And on Thursday, each Alaskan who filed online will receive a $1,606 dividend check from the state’s Permanent Fund.

    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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    How Pigeons Can Help Humans Survive Climate Change

    There’s no need to trek into the wilderness to observe mysterious wildlife — because the future of biology may be lurking in the dumpster. Urban biologists are increasingly tracking the adaptation of city-dwelling animals for useful clues about evolution. Recent studies of fish, rats, pigeons and other ubiquitous urban animals have identified the development of features as complex as the ability to survive toxic waste.

    Why does it matter? Experts say that by understanding how animals absorb the environmental hits humans regularly dish out, we’re better prepared to cope with a rapidly warming climate.

    Don’t miss this OZY feature about Europe’s sea of plastics.

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    Why It’s Good to Cry at Work

    Crying at the office is often seen as an indicator of incompetence. Surprisingly, a recent survey of some 3,000 people revealed that a tragic 80 percent have wept at work. But culture writer (and admitted crybaby) Lizzy Hill argues that vocational crying is actually good business — and a response to what one sociologist calls the “tyranny of positivity,” where “happy” employees are loath to call out bad ideas or toxic scenarios.

    How can bosses profit from workers’ tears? They’re a crucial resource, one psychologist says, and should prompt employers to probe the causes and collaborate with upset employees to solve them.

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    This Funnyman Wants His Country Gone

    “Countries don’t make sense.” So says Colombian comic Santiago Rivas Camargo, explaining his obsession with ending Latin America’s nation-states as we know them. After all, their borders were drawn by colonial powers, which Rivas believes has led to a “crisis of meaning” among the region’s modern nations. He’s part of a trend of comedians who’ve taken up a serious political mantle, OZY reports, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the co-founder of Italy’s 5-Star Movement, Beppe Grillo.

    What makes Rivas different? In contrast to some comics-turned-politicians, he rails against populism and says it’s important to understand when humor merely masks the truth.

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    Airline Window Shades Are Tearing Us Apart

    Frequent flyers know it all too well: An airplane neighbor closes or opens a window shade, unfairly denying other passengers’ right to either sunlight or glare-free screen time. This window-seat decision can affect both digital devotees and lovers of natural light and high-altitude vistas — and it’s the latest thing since seat reclining to make travelers want to toss their drinks at each other.

    Can light and dark coexist? One columnist believes it’s possible: Open-shade glare can be tolerated with brighter but energy-sapping screen settings, which is why extra battery power, or a charging port, could help bridge the divide.

    Check out OZY’s Special Briefing on Thomas Cook’s epic travel disaster.

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    Serious Ballers Say Real Men Eat Veggie Burgers

    Avoiding meat was once considered unmanly, but a cadre of NBA stars — including Kyrie Irving and JJ Redick — are helping to change that. And it’s not just the allure of free stocks in California food startup Beyond Meat, which dazzled after going public this year: CEO Ethan Brown has been passionate about vegetable protein since his days as a college basketball player, despite the grief he received during team outings to McDonald’s.

    Are these simply paid endorsements? The players seem to be true believers, insisting they’ve upped their game by avoiding meat while still being able to scarf down tasty patties that “bleed” when grilled.