The Presidential Daily Brief


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    US Stands Aside as Kurdish Allies Face Turkish Fighters

    American troops working alongside Kurdish fighters in Syria had long prevented Ankara from attacking those groups, which bore the brunt of the effort to defeat ISIS. But now the White House says U.S. forces “will no longer be in the immediate area” when Turkey, which considers the YPG militants terrorists who aid Kurdish separatists inside its borders, moves against them. The decision came after a call between President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

    What’s Turkey’s aim? It reportedly wants buffer zone across its border with Syria in which to fight “terrorist elements” while resettling Syrian refugees in their homeland.

    Don’t miss this OZY story on Syria’s next big export.

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    Second White House Whistleblower Surfaces

    A second anonymous intelligence worker has come forward and been interviewed by the inspector general, according to attorney Mark Zaid, who also represents the initial whistleblower. President Trump has argued the original complaint — about a phone call in which he pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden — was “totally inaccurate.” But Zaid says the new whistleblower has firsthand knowledge of some of the allegations in that complaint, which observers say is likely to strengthen House impeachment efforts.

    How has Trump reacted? His personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani tweeted that it “means nothing” and is part of an “orchestrated” Democratic Party campaign.

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    Iraq Struggles to Respond to Deadly Demonstrations

    The toll rose Sunday to more than 100 killed and 6,000 injured in Baghdad and several southern Iraqi cities during street protests over unemployment and corruption. Demonstrations began at the end of September after the demotion of a beloved general who fought to defeat ISIS, and supporters say he was ousted for standing up to Iran-backed militias. The government has cracked down on protests with curfews, censorship and violence, further angering protesting youth.

    Will demonstrations continue? It’s likely, but the year-old government of Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi has promised reforms, while world leaders are urging restraint.

    Read this OZY feature on Iraq’s underground club scene.

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    HSBC Expected to Lay Off Up to 10,000 Employees

    As part of its new interim chief’s cost-cutting drive, HSBC Holdings is reportedly planning to cut some 4 percent of its 238,000 employees worldwide. The layoffs — expected to be heaviest in Europe, where revenues aren’t as strong as in Asia — would come after 4,700 job cuts announced this summer in the context of “an increasingly complex and challenging global environment.”

    Is this part of a larger trend? HSBC joins other European banks such as Deutsche Bank, Societe Générale and Barclays, which have been slashing workforces amid low interest rates and weak investment banking revenue.

    Don’t miss this OZY piece on Vietnam’s illicit cash flows.

  5. Also Important…

    Kansas City police have arrested one suspect and are seeking a second gunman in a shooting that killed four people and injured five early Sunday. Britons are outraged after the wife of a U.S. diplomat fled the U.K. after allegedly causing an accident while driving on the wrong side of the road, killing a 19-year-old on a motorcycle. And French President Emmanuel Macron says that EU leaders will know by the end of the week whether it’s possible to agree on a new Brexit deal.

    #OZYfact: One of America’s first nursing homes also harbored a serial killer who contributed to 48 deaths there over five years. 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.


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    Israelis Discover Early Bronze Age Metropolis

    Archaeologists have excavated a 5,000-year-old “cosmopolitan and planned city” around 30 miles north of modern Tel Aviv. The Israeli Antiquities Authority said yesterday that the early Bronze Age city was exceptionally large for its time, accommodating some 6,000 inhabitants. The ruins include homes, streets, squares and a drainage system, as well as what researchers believe was a temple with the bones of sacrificial animals.

    What can be learned from the site? Dating from the time of the first Egyptian pharaohs, the discovery upends assumptions about how the region was urbanized.

    Check out this OZY feature about the pushback against sketchy antiquities.

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    Are Democrats Losing Indian Americans?

    A special relationship between President Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi threatens to derail a long tradition of bipartisan support for India from American legislators. Several prominent Democrats declined invitations to appear with Modi at a Texas stadium last month, with one calling it a “photo op” for Trump. Now they’re less shy about criticizing New Delhi, OZY reports, expressing concerns over Hindu nationalism and revocation of Muslim-majority Kashmir’s special status.

    How important is the Indian American bloc? While its 4 million voters aren’t terribly significant, it’s the country’s wealthiest ethnic group, donating $2 billion to Democratic candidates and $1 billion to Trump in this election cycle.

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    Apple Reverses Ban on Hong Kong Protest App

    Just days after the App Store removed — which tracks protests and police around Hong Kong — the tech giant has reversed its decision. Critics said the initial ban was Apple caving to demands from mainland China, where it earns $3 billion monthly, while the company said it was regulating an app that encouraged illegal activity. The app’s creators argue that it fosters safety by helping people avoid dangerous areas.

    What’s the upshot? It is a big win for pro-democracy protesters, but it may come at the expense of Apple’s bottom line in China.

    Read this OZY piece on the unlikely winner of the Hong Kong crisis.

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    Ginger Baker, Cream’s Fiery Drummer, Dies at 80

    The co-founder of the iconic group and one of history’s most influential drummers has died, his family announced yesterday. The London native maintained that Cream was a jazz band and he “never played rock,” but his percussion innovations paved the way for hard rock and heavy metal and contributed to world music. Baker was also famously difficult to get along with, changing bands nearly every two years.

    How will he be remembered? In 2016, Rolling Stone listed Baker as the third best drummer of all time, while musicians today say his style shaped every major drummer in some way.

    Don’t miss this OZY feature about photographing Ringo Starr.

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    Raiders Bring Cracking ‘American Football’ to London

    The NFL wants to expose Britons to gridiron glory by shipping regular season games across the pond, so league execs must be pleased with Sunday’s contest. Playing in Tottenham Hotspur’s London soccer stadium, the Raiders bested the favored Bears 24-21. After Oakland posted a 17-0 halftime lead, Chicago seemed to take control with 21 unanswered points in the third quarter, until the Raiders scored midway through the fourth to seal the win.

    How did Oakland survive? With much help from rookie tailback Josh Jacobs, who gained 123 yards in 26 carries and two touchdowns.

    OZY charts the NFL’s falling stars.