The Presidential Daily Brief

important

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    Tight Brexit Vote in Parliament Imminent

    Against all odds, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson secured a Brexit deal from European leaders this week. Soon, a rare Saturday sitting of Parliament is expected to vote on the agreement to exit the European Union. The margin, as one journalist put it, is “painfully tight,” so Johnson, unlike his thrice-failed predecessor, Theresa May, has a fighting chance to complete the movement that catapulted him into No. 10 Downing Street.

    What happens first? MPs are expected to vote on an amendment by Conservative Party expellee Oliver Letwin to “withhold support” for Johnson’s plan until passage of all legislation needed for its implementation — possibly forcing another delay past the Oct. 31 departure deadline.

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    A Fraying Alliance on the Potomac

    It’s been a week of notable setbacks for the White House. There was the unabashed Republican repudiation of President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from Syria. Then his acting chief of staff, talking to reporters Thursday to defend hosting the 2020 G-7 summit at a Trump resort, suggested that his boss had withheld aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival. Meanwhile, current and former administration officials defied a White House prohibition against testifying about Ukraine on Capitol Hill.

    What’s come of that? Yesterday, a prominent Republican, former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, “with great sadness,” called for Trump’s impeachment, while a new poll shows a majority of Americans support the House’s impeachment probe.

    OZY’s Donald Dossier explains the Syria factor.

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    Erdogan to Discuss Syria With Putin

    Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to host Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Tuesday in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi. The two leaders will discuss the future of northern Syria following a Turkish offensive against Kurdish YPG fighters last week. Russian-backed Syrian government forces moved into Kurdish-held areas after striking a deal with the embattled Kurdish leadership. The talks will come four days after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Turkey to broker a five-day cease-fire.

    What else is going on? U.S. officials are also studying plans to remove 50 nuclear weapons that are stored in southern Turkey, just 250 miles from the Syrian border.

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    German Motorists Mock Thunberg’s Climate Movement

    They call them “Fridays for Horsepower.” A group of German motorists have banded together to rev their engines in protest of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future. Climate change activists want a CO2 tax and diesel vehicle bans in some inner cities, and these new internal combustion advocates aren’t about to let those things happen. The protests were suggested by Ford mechanic Christopher Grau, who says the idea “struck a nerve” and has picked up 540,000 Facebook followers.

    Are they serious? They are, and unlike many of Thunberg’s young followers, they can vote, so politicians are paying attention, lest Germany develop its own version of France’s Yellow Vest movement.

  5. Also Important …

    Sometimes violent protests in Santiago, Chile, have erupted over a transit fare increase. NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir conducted the first all-woman spacewalk yesterday. And a fifth day of protests by Catalan separatists in Barcelona turned violent Friday night.

    In the week ahead: Tonight the Houston Astros have a chance to clinch a World Series berth by beating the New York Yankees, who trail two games to four in the American League Championship Series. On Sunday, melting glaciers are expected to boost Green party fortunes in Swiss elections. And embattled Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may lose Monday’s Canadian parliamentary contest.

    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.

intriguing

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    The Student Who Saved the Rainforest

    The corporate giant Menara Group planned on turning Indonesia’s indigenous Aru Islands into a sugar cane plant. The project would have destroyed rainforests, generated CO2 and disrupted inhabitants’ sources of income. College student Collin Leppuy appealed to a church minister from a nearby coastal city. In a span of eight months, the two spearheaded a grassroots campaign that generated enough local, national and global pressure to halt Menara’s catastrophic plans.

    What did Menara do next? It obtained land rights in a nearby province, where its scheme to create one of the country’s largest oil palm plantations seems destined to succeed.

    Don’t miss this OZY feature about the Amazon tribes taking on Brazil’s president.

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    Can a Defiant Journalist Stand Up to Rodrigo Duterte?

    Maria Ressa is known as one of Southeast Asia’s leading journalists. Now she’s got a more precarious identity: enemy No. 1 of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. News outlet Rappler, which Ressa launched in Manila in 2012, is under attack from the notoriously foulmouthed leader for its coverage of Duterte’s deadly “war on drugs.” Libel charges and questionable tax evasion allegations could mean decades in jail for Ressa.

    Can the free press prevail? Ressa is facing a court stacked with Duterte allies — including newspaper publishers — but she’s got an international legal team on her side that includes star human rights lawyer Amal Clooney.

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    When Doctor Visits Mean Jail Time

    Across parts of America, debt collection filings are rising along with health care costs. Coffeyville, Kansas, has made a business out of such filings. The judge in the impoverished town doesn’t have a law degree and reportedly kowtows to lawyers collecting unpaid medical bills, which often leads to arrest warrants, and in effect, modern-day debtors prison.

    Why is there so much debt? Most of the debt is from medical care — especially as Kansas opted out of the Medicare expansion under the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

    Don’t miss this OZY piece exploring why 20 million Americans should file for bankruptcy.

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    They’re Making You Laugh — and Squirm — Where You Live

    Dawn Luebbe, who grew to love ‘“stifling laughter” while working with the sketch team at the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York, first met Jocelyn DeBoer in 2011. The two women instantly knew they had found a comedic ally in the other, OZY reports. After moving to Los Angeles, the duo paired up and shot Greener Grass, a short combining Wes Anderson–like quirkiness with a touch of John Waters–style sleaze, set in suburbia gone wrong.

    When can we watch it? The feature-length version of the movie, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, was released in the U.S. on Oct. 18.

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    What Happened to the Homer Epic Postseason MLB?

    It’s the balls, right? That seems to be the consensus explanation for Major League Baseball’s lackluster playoff hitting. Since 2016, the game has experienced an epic run of homers, with many records falling — just like seemingly slammed postseason balls are now dropping into outfielders’ gloves. While MLB-owned ball-maker Rawlings won’t fess up, analytics tell us that the new ball has more drag and travels 4.5 feet less.

    What does this mean for the game? It will disappoint many who live for the long ball (like hitters), but delight fans who’ve pined for the days when the bases in baseball had a purpose.

    OZY asks: Can D.C. break its curse?