The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Trump Faces Blowback Over Syria Reversal

    President Donald Trump drew rebukes from key Republican supporters with his announcement that he’d withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged Trump to “exercise American leadership,” noting that a pullout would only serve the interests of the Syrian government and its backers, Russia and Iran — and possibly even ISIS. That prompted Trump to warn Turkey that he’d “totally destroy and obliterate” its economy if Ankara did anything “off limits,” presumably against U.S.-backed Kurds.

    What are America’s friends thinking? As OZY reports, dumping longtime Kurdish allies might make others, such as Israel or Saudi Arabia, think twice before relying on Trump’s loyalty or foreign policy pledges.

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    US Blacklists Chinese Firms Over Uighur Camps

    Claiming they’re “implicated in human rights violations and abuses,” the U.S. Commerce Department has added 28 Chinese government agencies and tech firms to a trade blacklist for their alleged role in repressing the Muslim minority group. Hundreds of thousands of Uighurs are believed to be held in what Beijing calls “vocational training centers” aimed at weeding out extremism. But critics say they’re more like internment camps — part of a broader crackdown that also includes widespread surveillance.

    What effect will the blacklist have? It will likely further complicate already strained trade talks between the U.S. and China.

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    Dems Fire Off More Subpoenas in Impeachment Probe

    U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and acting White House budget director Russell Vought are the latest administration officials facing subpoenas from House Democrats probing President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. The officials have until Oct. 15 to produce requested documents. Meanwhile, Democrats are said to be considering masking the identity of the whistleblower during his testimony in order to prevent congressional Republicans from exposing him.

    What’s the White House strategy? While Trump has continued his rhetorical offensive — claiming to “thrive” on the attention from the inquiry — top aides appear to be struggling to communicate a more coherent message.

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    Hong Kong Drops Bid for London Stock Exchange

    Ahead of a Wednesday deadline to make a formal offer, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) ended its high-profile attempt to buy its British counterpart. That’s because London Stock Exchange Group executives were reportedly unmoved by the $36.4 billion unsolicited offer, which would have been game-changing for both operations. The ongoing turmoil in Hong Kong also didn’t help.

    What’s next? HKEX will need to wait six months before making another offer, but for now investors seem relieved it didn’t boost its leverage to make the major purchase — sending shares up by as much as 2.7 percent.

  5. Also Important…

    The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments today in two cases pertaining to labor protections for LGBT workers. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has refused to rule out asking China for help quelling protests in a worst-case scenario. And South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker issued a tongue-in-cheek “official apology” to China after their show was virtually blocked from the internet there.

    #OZYfact: In 1935, nearly 90 percent of voters in the unclaimed region of Saarland opted to join Nazi Germany. 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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    Climate Protesters Arrested Across the Globe

    Nearly 300 people were detained in London yesterday for participating in Extinction Rebellion protests, as the British-founded group continues to demand government action to mitigate climate change. Dozens of activists in the U.S. and Europe were also arrested for taking part in similar demonstrations, while protesters in New York captured attention by dousing Wall Street’s charging bull statue in fake blood.

    What’s next for the movement? Extinction Rebellion organizers are expecting activists in 60 cities to hit the streets over the next two weeks. 

    Check out OZY’s original series, The New Frontiers of Climate Change.

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    Pakistani Women Are Fighting for Workplace Equality

    Pakistan’s massive garment industry, dependent on women working from small factories inside homes, has the widest gender pay gap in Asia — but change is on the way, OZY reports. Workers are seeking better conditions and higher wages, and in a male-dominated society, those demands aren’t limited to the factory floor: Unions are finding themselves powerful enough to push back against gender norms and victimization from law enforcement.

    Is it working? On the heels of well-conceived campaigns that have sprung up across the country, Sindh province has already instituted minimum wages and social security benefits for home-based workers.

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    Saturn Surpasses Jupiter With Most Moons

    The International Astronomical Union announced Monday that another 20 moons have been discovered orbiting Saturn — meaning the ringed planet now boasts 82 natural satellites, overtaking Jupiter’s 79. The tiny new moons, measuring about 3 miles in diameter, were spotted by researchers using the Subaru Telescope atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea. They suspect 100 even smaller moons could soon be discovered.

    What are the new moons called? Astronomers have announced a public contest to name them, but there won’t be a Moony McMoonface: Proposed monikers must fit Saturn’s lunar theme of giants from Norse, Gallic and Inuit mythology.

    Check out OZY’s story about America’s new “space mountains.”

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    Swedish Royals Strip Kids of Official Status

    Yesterday King Carl XVI Gustaf and his wife, Queen Silvia, removed the official titles of five of their seven grandchildren. While they’ll still be part of the extended royal family, the decision — which doesn’t apply to the children of Crown Princess Victoria, heir to the Swedish throne — affords them more private freedoms and releases them from official royal duties. It also means they won’t receive taxpayer-funded benefits.

    How unusual is this? It mirrors a move by Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, who opted not to give their new son, Archie, an official title, signaling that they want to preserve his privacy.

    Don’t miss OZY’s Immodest Proposal to forbid photos of Baby Archie.

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    US Politicians Slam NBA for Appeasing China

    Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle criticized the league yesterday for “kowtowing” to China after Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey tweeted — then deleted — his support for protesters in Hong Kong. The NBA released a statement to reassure Beijing that his comments didn’t reflect the views of the league, which has worked hard to court Chinese fans. Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke called the statement “an embarrassment” for prioritizing money over democratic values.

    What’s at stake for the NBA? In China, lots of money from sponsorships and media deals. Meanwhile, the league risks sabotaging its carefully cultivated socially conscious image at home.