The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. US Envoy: Trump Withheld Ukraine Aid for Biden Probe

    The acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, reportedly told congressional investigators yesterday that President Donald Trump withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine until Kyiv dug into political rival Joe Biden. Taylor's explosive testimony is said to have focused on his mounting alarm over the alleged “irregular, informal” diplomatic back-channeling — as well as on the transactional approach to relations with Ukraine, as described to him by Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the EU.

    Why is his testimony valuable? Observers say Taylor's recollection, supported by contemporaneous notes, amounts to the most detailed rebuttal of White House claims that Trump did nothing wrong in his dealings with Ukraine.

  2. With US Gone, Russia and Turkey Strike Deal Over Syria

    After meeting for six hours yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, agreed to jointly control a swath of formerly Kurdish-held territory in northeastern Syria. According to the proposal, Kurds — once backed by U.S. troops withdrawn by President Trump — now have six days to retreat more than 20 miles away from the Turkish border and back into Syria.

    Why does it matter? It's a victory for both leaders: While Erdoğan gets a Kurd-free buffer zone, Putin boosts Russia's military profile. Washington, meanwhile, is watching its influence wane in real time.

    Don't miss OZY's Flashback about the day Erdoğan turned on the Kurds.

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    Boris Johnson Weighs Early Election

    The British prime minister was dealt both victory and defeat in Parliament yesterday, as his Brexit deal cleared its first parliamentary hurdle but lawmakers rejected his three-day timeline to fully enact it. Now, Downing Street believes calling an election is the best way forward. The opposition Labour Party apparently agrees, since it means crashing out of the EU with no prior arrangement won't be possible.

    What's next? If an EU-offered extension comes back from Brussels at three months or longer, an election appears likely.

    Read OZY's Special Briefing on why Johnson wants an election so badly.

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    WeWork Is Officially Rescued by SoftBank

    The Japanese holding company will provide a total of $10 billion in emergency financing and share purchases for the troubled co-working firm — leaving SoftBank with an 80 percent stake in WeWork. Controversial former CEO Adam Neumann will reportedly receive more than $1 billion to walk away as chairman and ditch his voting rights. The company's now valued at just $8 billion, down from around $47 billion when Neumann was preparing to take it public.

    How will WeWork straighten itself out? Besides overhauling its corporate governance, the company could lay off up to 2,000 people, or 13 percent of its workforce.

  5. Also Important...

    British police have arrested a 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland after finding 39 bodies in a truck container thought to have originated in Bulgaria. Hong Kong's government has officially withdrawn the controversial extradition bill that sparked months of pro-democracy protests there. And Nike has announced that CEO Mark Parker will step down next year from the world’s biggest sportswear brand.

    #OZYfact: Milwaukee County had the single biggest drop-off in the country of raw votes from 2012 to 2016 — more than 50,000, most of them disaffected Democrats. Read more on OZY.

    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.


  1. Can This New Drug Treat Alzheimer's Disease?

    After abandoning research efforts deemed futile in March, Biotech giant Biogen is trying again. It intends to seek approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a medication that appears to slow the decline of Alzheimer's patients. Two smaller studies had shown no benefit, but a fresh analysis of more data showed the drug, called aducanumab, to be “pharmacologically and clinically active.” Meanwhile, Biogen stock jumped 37 percent on the news.

    Will it be approved? Some analysts say a single positive trial isn't quite convincing enough, while the Alzheimer's Association said it had "never been as optimistic."

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    Vladimir Putin Is Wooing African Leaders

    The Middle East isn't the only region the Russian president's been scoping out lately. The leaders of more than 50 African countries are descending on the Black Sea city of Sochi for a two-day conference aimed at boosting Russian influence on the continent. It's the culmination of what observers say have been years of various bilateral meet-ups and forums, and will be co-chaired by Putin and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, chairman of the African Union.

    What are the Kremlin's objectives? Flexing its soft power muscles at Washington, Brussels and Beijing, it's seeking the kind of strong trade, military and cultural ties it enjoyed during the Cold War.

  3. Women Are Safer When Female Cops Walk the Beat

    Domestic violence is the leading reason Americans call the police. But who picks up makes a difference: More female officers on a police force means domestic violence gets reported more often, OZY finds. Yet while a number of countries have invested in all-female units — with positive results — women make up only 12 percent of local police forces in the United Sates. That's increased just 4 percentage points in 26 years. Even more alarming? In previous studies, 40 percent of male cops have admitted to violent behavior at home.

    How can things change? Researchers say direct intervention by the Department of Justice is the key to boosting equality in policing.

  4. Palestinian Authority Blocks Critical Websites in West Bank

    Activists in the Palestinian territories on Tuesday appealed a court decision to ban 59 West Bank websites. Those sites were blocked earlier this week after a judge in Ramallah ruled that their content threatened "national security and civil peace." Most of the banned web pages were critical of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and linked to his political rivals, including the Islamist group Hamas.

    Could activists win? One Palestinian official has suggested the ruling could be reversed by a higher court.

    Read this OZY story about crowdfunding solutions for Palestine.

  5. MLB to Probe Astros Exec for Taunting Women

    Major League Baseball will investigate comments made by Houston Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman after his team won the American League pennant last week. In the clubhouse, a jubilant Taubman shouted at female reporters, "I'm so f---ing glad we got Roberto Osuna" — the former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher arrested last year on domestic violence charges. Those charges were dropped, but Osuna served a 75-game suspension for violating the MLB's domestic violence policy. Yesterday, the Astros lost Game 1 of the World Series to the Washington Nationals, 5-4.

    Is Taubman walking it back? He disputes the context of his utterance, but said he was "deeply sorry and embarrassed" for using "inappropriate language."