The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Turkish Forces Move Against Kurds in Syria

    Following its incursion into northeastern Syria late Wednesday, accompanied by airstrikes and artillery shelling, the Turkish military continued its advance today into Kurdish-held territory. The move has attracted global condemnation, but President Donald Trump — who withdrew U.S. troops from the area to make way for the assault — only called it “a bad idea.” He also appeared to criticize the Kurds, America’s allies in the fight against ISIS, saying, “They didn’t help us in the Second World War.”

    Does this change the regional balance of power? OZY analyst John McLaughlin writes that Washington’s exit from Syria implies that the Middle East no longer matters, and leaves U.S. rivals Russia and Iran as kingmakers.

  2. German Police Probe Synagogue Attack

    Authorities in Halle, Germany, say the 27-year-old gunman whose assault on a local synagogue yesterday left two dead was motivated by anti-Semitism. Dozens of worshipers were celebrating Yom Kippur inside as the suspect — who’s now in custody — tried to break through the doors but failed, leading him to gun down one woman at an adjacent cemetery and another person at a nearby kebab shop. He reportedly posted a 35-minute livestreamed video of the attack.

    What else do we know? More people could have been hurt: Besides the gunman’s failure to enter the synagogue, his weapon jammed twice and allowed people to flee.

  3. US-China Trade Talks Are Back On

    Once again, senior Chinese and American negotiators are facing off in Washington today in a bid to end the crippling trade war their countries are waging against one another. But experts aren’t too optimistic about the first meeting between the two sides since July: Rather than expecting a full agreement, they’re simply hoping for a “cessation of hostilities” at best.

    What’s next? If officials fail to see eye-to-eye again, virtually all Chinese exports to the U.S. — worth more than $500 billion — will be taxed by Dec. 15.

    Read OZY’s Acumen about the trade war’s effect on public opinion in both countries.

  4. Democrats Plot Impeachment Course Around Hurdles

    Following an official refusal from the White House to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, congressional Democrats are pressing ahead with their probe. They could fire off fresh subpoenas as early as today, though some say that runs the risk of appearing too eager to move quickly, rather than to investigate thoroughly. Meanwhile, Joe Biden — still a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination — announced his support for impeaching his top critic.

    What’s the dilemma Democrats are facing? They’re grappling with a White House legal strategy that’s using executive privilege, such as blocking officials from testifying, to an unprecedented degree.

  5. Also Important…

    Apple has once again scrapped an app from its online store that allows protesters in Hong Kong to track police movements. President Trump says two captured British ISIS militants have been transferred out of Syria and into “a secure location controlled by the U.S.” And two Rugby World Cup matches in Japan have been canceled as Super Typhoon Hagibis approaches.

    #OZYfact: People in the Asia-Pacific region are nearly twice as likely as those in Europe and North America to say they’d consider co-living in shared accommodations. 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. UK Admits Botching Face Detection Software

    Despite knowing it might not work on some ethnic minorities, the British government deemed a new facial recognition system for passport photos “sufficient to deploy” in 2016. According to documents released by the Home Office, authorities knew the system was spotty when processing people with “very light or very dark skin,” but decided to launch it anyway.

    What do the glitches mean for users? If the technology can’t recognize someone’s features — such as when it mistook a Black man’s lips for an open mouth — it warns that the picture doesn’t comply with guidelines, which could jeopardize passport applications.

    Don’t miss OZY’s Fast Forward about China turning to robotic policing.

  2. Chinese Tourists Cut Back on Holiday Travel

    Dubbed “Golden Week,” the national holiday from Oct. 1-7 is a major travel period in a country with few personal vacation days. But thanks to tougher economic times, locals didn’t travel as much in 2019: This year’s 7 percent growth in domestic tourism during that period was slower than in the past two years. Meanwhile, growth in retail and food and beverage sales was also down, from 10 percent in 2018 to 8.5 percent this year, while border crossings fell 15 percent from last year.

    Why does Golden Week matter? Analysts say it’s a good barometer for Chinese consumption, which is an increasingly important driver of economic growth.

  3. Looking for Love? Blockchain Will Help

    A new wave of dating apps are using blockchain’s distributed ledger to offer services that commit to transparency and safety. By verifying users with the help of artificial intelligence, they’re weeding out fraudsters and serial senders of unsolicited penis pics, OZY reports. Besides tapping into a growing global dating app industry that’s already worth $2 billion a year, they’re also filling a clear need: In 2017, The FBI received 15,000 complaints of love scams totaling $210 million.

    Are these apps the future? Topping Tinder’s 1.6 billion swipes per day won’t be easy, especially since the most sophisticated services come with a price tag, meaning the audience might stay niche.

  4. Matt Lauer Fires Back Against Rape Accusation

    The ex-Today show anchor is facing another claim of sexual misconduct after a former colleague said he raped her in his hotel room during the 2014 Winter Olympics. While Lauer admitted to having an affair with Brooke Nevils, he called her “a fully enthusiastic and willing partner.” But that differs from what Nevils told Ronan Farrow in his new book, Catch and Kill, where she alleged Lauer forced himself on her when she was too drunk to consent.

    How is the industry reacting? Lauer’s former co-host Ann Curry said she believes Nevils, while Jennifer Aniston said she drew inspiration from the Lauer saga for her new TV show about a male anchor fired for misconduct.

  5. Iran Will Allow Women Into Soccer Games

    “We’re not going to turn our eyes away from this.” So said one FIFA executive, describing how soccer’s governing body will make sure that Iran keeps its pledge to allow women into games. Breaking a decades-long effective ban, more than 3,500 women purchased tickets for today’s World Cup qualifier in Tehran. The change comes just weeks after the death of 29-year-old Sahar Khodayari, who set herself on fire while being prosecuted for sneaking into a stadium disguised as a man.

    Is this a turning point? Some aren’t buying it: Citing the stadium’s 78,000-seat capacity, watchdog Amnesty International called the token number of tickets for women a “publicity stunt.”