The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Top US Envoy Backtracks, Describes Quid Pro Quo

    Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, now says he told a top Ukrainian official this summer that American military aid to Kyiv would resume only if authorities there probed President Donald Trump's Democratic rivals. A potentially serious setback for Trump, Sondland's updated comments, released yesterday, contradict his earlier testimony to impeachment investigators that he wasn't aware of any quid pro quo.

    How crucial is Sondland's new statement? It makes him at least the fourth witness to link nearly $400 million in U.S. cash to political favors from Ukraine.

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    Democratic Election Victories Rattle Republicans

    For the first time in a generation, Virginia's state legislature is now fully controlled by Democrats following Tuesday elections that also saw a Democratic challenger claim victory in Kentucky's gubernatorial race. Both developments are worrying signs for Republicans, who observers say are facing a "suburban revolt" as President Trump becomes further mired in controversy. "It was a rough night," said one political strategist.

    How important are these states for 2020? While neither is a key battleground, both fit into a pattern unfolding across swing states.

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    SoftBank Takes $6.5 Billion Hit From Risky Bets

    Thanks to its high-stakes gamble on beleaguered startup WeWork, as well as profit-starved Uber, the Japanese investment powerhouse today reported a quarterly operating loss of around $6.5 billion. SoftBank's first such hit in 14 years is a reality check for ambitious founder Masayoshi Son, whose plans to launch another $100 billion investment fund may now be in trouble.

    What's next? Analysts say the once wildly successful billionaire — who acknowledged "a problem with my own judgment" — will need to address his risky investment strategy more clearly in the future.

    Check out OZY's original series, Too Big Not to Fail.

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    Mormon Community Reels After Mexico Killings

    Mexican authorities say they've arrested a suspect in the Monday murder of nine American Mormons from a local community just south of the U.S. border. The three women and six children — among them two infants — were ambushed by drug cartel gunmen while traveling in northwestern Mexico. "Innocence is shattered," said one U.S.-based relative.

    Why were they targeted? They're part of a family with deep roots in the region that's had previous run-ins with local gangsters, though a top Mexican official believes their convoy was simply mistaken for a rival cartel.

  5. Also Important...

    Some 11,000 scientists from more than 150 countries have issued a collective statement warning about the "untold suffering" climate change will bring. U.S. safety investigators have found that the self-driving Uber car that killed a 49-year-old woman in Arizona last year failed to identify her as a pedestrian. And a pro-Beijing Hong Kong lawmaker was reportedly stabbed while campaigning Wednesday.

    #OZYfact: The five U.S. states with the lowest racial disparities in prison populations are in the South. Read more on OZY.

    OZY is hiring! We’re looking for a skilled full stack marketer who can help make OZY a household name. Check out our jobs page and read the description here.


  1. Mud Homes Are India's Climate-Friendly Future

    If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third-largest carbon dioxide emitter in the world. That's why builders across India are opting for sustainable alternatives, OZY reports, turning to ancient earthen structures for inspiration. While different geographies call for different natural materials, these architects are united by wanting to feel "close to Earth."

    Could this catch on? Changing construction habits in a country of 1.3 billion people won’t be easy, especially given the popular belief that mud homes aren't sturdy — or distinguished — enough.

  2. AT&T Will Pay $60 Million for Misleading Customers

    The Federal Trade Commission announced Tuesday that it has finally reached a settlement with AT&T over a 2014 lawsuit. Regulators said the company lied about its unlimited data plan by throttling customers' data speed once they hit a certain threshold. AT&T will now pay $60 million for its "bait-and-switch scam" into a fund for 3.5 million customers who were fooled by the misleading advertising.

    Was justice served? Critics say AT&T will continue to operate in a market with little competition, providing the company few incentives to improve its practices.

    Read OZY's feature about why smartphones are many Indians' best friends.

  3. This Human Rights Campaigner Isn't Welcome in Israel

    The Israeli Supreme Court has upheld a government decision to expel Omar Shakir, the local director of Human Rights Watch, for allegedly supporting the pro-Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. The U.S. citizen denies backing BDS and accuses Israel of attempting to muffle criticism of its rights record in the Palestinian territories. Shakir must now leave Israel within 20 days.

    Are judicial sanctions a new trend? The decision comes weeks after the court cited security reasons for imposing a travel ban on an Amnesty International activist of Palestinian heritage.

  4. Sharon Stone Sues Rapper for Repeating Her Name

    The 61-year-old actress has filed a lawsuit claiming that Chanel West Coast, real name Chelsea Dudley, has ruined her image by referencing her dozens of times in a song called Sharon Stoned. The Basic Instinct star says the 31-year-old rapper is trying to capitalize on Stone's "extraordinary level of popularity and fame," thereby exploiting years of hard work.

    What does Stone want? Her suit seeks punitive damages and an injunction on Dudley's future use of Stone's name or image.

    Read OZY's Flashback about the Hollywood mogul who treated women fairly.

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    Australia's Female Soccer Players Score Equal Pay

    Today Football Federation Australia struck a four-year deal with the players' union to split commercial revenues between the women's and men's national teams. The Westfield Matildas and Caltex Socceroos will each receive a 24 percent cut next season, which will increase by 1 percent each year. But while the Matildas will also get a larger share of cash for qualifying for the World Cup, the Socceroos could still rake in far more in prize money.

    How large is that gap? The total prize pool for the 2018 men's World Cup was $400 million, while last year's women's competition offered merely $30 million.