The Presidential Daily Brief


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    White House Aide Details Ukraine Transcript Omissions

    The National Security Council's top Ukraine expert reportedly told congressional investigators yesterday that he tried — but failed — to add key details to the White House transcript of the July 25 call between President Donald Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart. While Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman's account probably won't change how lawmakers view that fateful conversation, observers say it sheds light on the potentially questionable way the White House handled it.

    What's next? Lawmakers will vote tomorrow on making the impeachment hearings public, among other guidelines aimed at allaying Republican concerns over political bias.

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    Boris Johnson Finally Gets His Election

    Following Parliament's approval of his plan for a Dec. 12 snap vote, the British prime minister said he's ready for a formidable electoral fight that could give his Brexit deal a fresh boost. Now confident that a no-deal Brexit is off the table, opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn calls the contest a "once-in-a-generation" opportunity to change the country's direction.

    Will Brexit dominate the campaign? Labour's shadow chancellor said austerity and public service will be major issues — but the fight over leaving the EU is undeniably the overriding question.

    Read this OZY Flashback about one of history's more dubious referendums.

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    Lebanese PM Quits, But Protesters Aren't Satisfied

    Claiming he'd reached a “dead end,” Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned yesterday after nearly two weeks of widespread protests against his government. But demonstrators say his resignation is only the beginning of a broader battle against broken bureaucracy and mismanagement. "I don't think anyone thinks we're done," said one Beirut activist, who sees Hariri as just "part of the problem." Meanwhile, Lebanese security officials were struggling to restore public order.

    What's the mood on the streets? Analysts say the protest movement is quickly shifting from celebration to uncertainty, especially amid Lebanon's crippling economic crisis.

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    Fiat Chrysler Eyes Merger With PSA

    The Italian-American carmaker is in talks with the French owner of Peugeot that could lead to the creation of a global auto giant worth some $46 billion. But negotiations are still fluid, insiders say, and any potential merger likely faces serious political hurdles. Fiat Chrysler walked away from a merger with French rival Renault in June.

    Why combine forces? Facing weakening global demand, auto companies are pooling their resources to stay competitive while facing the challenges of stricter emissions standards and technological advances like self-driving cars.

  5. Also Important...

    Firefighters in California are still battling blazes across the Golden State. AT&T announced it'll price its HBO Max streaming platform at $14.99 per month, more than what any of its rivals charge. And Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg declined an award from the Nordic Council yesterday, saying "the climate movement does not need any more awards.”

    #OZYfact: There's no difference in success rates for male and female basketball coaches. Read more on OZY.

    Check it out! Don't miss this curated package of OZY ghost stories on Flipboard.


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    Twitter to Ban All Political Ads

    Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced Wednesday that his platform will ban almost all political ads starting on November 22. One of the lone exceptions will be allowing ads that encourage voter registration. The move comes after U.S lawmakers recently blasted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for refusing to ban false political ads on his platform. Zuckerberg has defended the decision by arguing that Facebook shouldn't be tasked with regulating free speech.

    How has Dorsey justified the move? By arguing that political reach "should be earned, not bought."

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    UK's Female MPs Stand Up for Meghan Markle

    A total of 72 British lawmakers submitted a letter Tuesday expressing their support for the Duchess of Sussex's legal battle against the press, slamming the invasion of her privacy. The letter also accuses tabloids of evoking "colonial undertones" when writing about Markle, who filed suit against the Mail on Sunday for publishing a private letter to her father, which the newspaper altered.

    Are lawmakers planning further action? While details are scant, they've pledged "to use the means at our disposal" to rein in Fleet Street media excesses.

    Read OZY's Immodest Proposal to forbid photos of Harry and Meghan's infant son.

  3. WhatsApp Suit Goes After Israeli Spyware

    The Facebook subsidiary has sued cybersurveillance firm NSO Group, claiming it hacked users via its encrypted messaging platform in May. The filing alleges that the Israeli company targeted human rights campaigners, activists, journalists and political dissidents, among others, by installing spyware through voice calls. It infected iPhones and Android devices of some 1,400 users. NSO denies wrongdoing.

    Will WhatsApp win? Since U.S. law prohibits only “unauthorized access” to computers, some experts say it will be difficult for the platform to prove it was a victim.

    Don't miss OZY's Fast Forward about the rise of the "granny state."

  4. Climate Change Is Wearing Donors Down

    As extreme weather phenomena increasingly batter nations across South and Southeast Asia, donors are becoming weary and selective — leaving a region especially vulnerable to climate change even more so, OZY reports. Relief funds are receiving less cash, while volunteering has slowed to a trickle. It's not a new phenomenon, with a similar trend having occurred in Africa during the 80s and 90s, but it's taking aim at the world's most populated region.

    What causes donor fatigue? One researcher suggests that increasing access to information about disasters is overwhelming and prompts people to "tune out."

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    Taylor Swift Hasn't Shaken Off Lyrics Suit

    Still claiming Swift and her collaborators copied lyrics from the song Players Gon’ Play by 3LW for her hit Shake It Off, songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler are dragging the pop star back to court. Both songs include “the players gonna play" and “the haters gonna hate." In February 2018, a federal judge dismissed the copyright suit, saying language was conceptually "banal."

    So now what? It's going to a jury, after U.S. Ninth Circuit appeals judges said this week that the lower court didn't establish that the first work wasn't original — a separate issue from creative value.

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    NCAA Supports Player Endorsements — Sort Of

    Following California's approval of a law allowing college athletes to be paid for the use of their names and likenesses, it seems the country's top governing body agrees. In Atlanta yesterday, its Board of Governors announced it would allow such compensation so long it adheres to NCAA principles. That will require writing bylaws that promote fair and balanced competition and not exacerbating "recruiting wars," according to President Mark Emmert.

    Is it a major change? Critics are skeptical, arguing the lack of detail suggests that the NCAA's policy shift is either cosmetic, or won't have any practical effect for years.