The Presidential Daily Brief


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    State Dept. Official Details Trump's Ukraine 'Demands'

    In testimony released yesterday, the State Department's top Ukraine official said President Donald Trump pushed Kyiv to "initiate politically motivated prosecutions" against his Democratic rivals. More specifically, George Kent told congressional investigators last month that Trump wanted to hear Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy publicly implicate Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton. However, Kent clarified that he wasn't privy to firsthand accounts of any such conversations.

    What's next? Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is reportedly the latest official to have been subpoenaed in the impeachment inquiry against Trump — though he'll likely refuse to show up.

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    US, China Agree on Tariff Rollback — Maybe

    Negotiators from Beijing and Washington have agreed to phase out tariffs if they're able to strike a trade deal — but apparently not everyone's on board. White House insiders are reportedly split over the American end of the bargain, with Trump's senior trade adviser claiming, “They’re just negotiating in public." Experts, meanwhile, warn there's still plenty of time for talks to fall apart.

    How hard have tariffs hit? In September alone, U.S. importers paid a record $7 billion in taxes, while third-quarter economic growth dipped below 2 percent for the first time since 2017.

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    Hong Kong Tensions Rise After Protester's Death

    China's rebellious semi-autonomous territory is facing another weekend of volatility after the death today of a 22-year-old demonstrator who fell from a parking garage during protests earlier this week. Critics are demanding an investigation into how Chow Tsz-Lok fell during a police crackdown involving tear gas. In response to his death, hundreds of illegally masked protesters marched through central Hong Kong Friday demanding "revenge."

    Are the protests getting more dangerous? Given the low number of fatalities in the months-long movement, each death carries the potential for a major escalation.

    Don't miss OZY's Special Briefing on Hong Kong's face mask ban.

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    'Unprecedented' Bushfires Ravage Australia

    "Your life is at risk." That's what the Rural Fire Service told residents in Australia's southeastern state of New South Wales, where more than 1,000 firefighters are battling 17 emergency-level bushfires. Images from the region show otherworldly orange skies as another several dozen blazes rage out of control. The RFS described the situation as reaching "uncharted territory."

    What should local residents do? Officials are encouraging many to simply hunker down and seek shelter, since evacuating via fire-ravaged roads could prove even more dangerous.

  5. Also Important...

    Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has suggested that he'll run for the Democratic nomination for president. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has ordered his Cabinet to draft economic stimulus measures. And Brazil's top court has reached a decision that could lead to the release of jailed ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

    Try This: Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB Quiz.

    OZY is hiring! We’re looking for an analytical and globally minded tech 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. Italian Auschwitz Survivor Placed Under Police Protection

    Paramilitary police have been assigned to protect Liliana Segre, an 89-year-old Italian senator who says she receives up to 200 hate messages per day after pushing Parliament to approve a committee to combat anti-Semitism and racism. Several right-wing parties abstained from the vote, stoking fear among the country's minorities. Segre, who was deported to Auschwitz at 13, was among only 25 Italian children who survived the concentration camp.

    What's the broader public response? Segre's chief of staff says she gets "vastly more messages of support," while Italian officials expressed their solidarity with her.

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    Billionaires' Wealth Falls for First Time Since 2015

    Last year, the world’s richest citizens saw some $388 billion of their collective wealth evaporate, the first loss in three years. In particular, Chinese tycoons, who now number 48 fewer than in 2018, fared the worst, according to the new UBS and PwC Billionaire Insights Report. Meanwhile, the U.S. now boasts 89 tech billionaires — 19 more than the previous year.

    Why the drop? Analysts say a stronger dollar and shakier equity markets, partly riled by political upheaval around the world, have forced "a natural correction" in the billionaire boom.

    Check out OZY's profile of Chile's gaffe-prone billionaire president.

  3. Rome Really Wasn't Built in a Day

    New analysis of 12,000 years of ancient genetic data reveals that the Italian city witnessed two massive waves of migration, with the first starting nearly 9,000 years ago and the second spanning the Bronze Age. Writing in the journal Science, an international team of researchers describes the diversity found in DNA from 127 skeletons at 29 archaeological sites around Rome, including evidence of increased migration from North Africa and the Near East as the Roman Empire expanded.

    Why does it matter? Genetic evidence fills in gaps in historical records and shows how Rome was a cultural melting pot even several millennia ago.

  4. Study: LGBTQ Representation Hits All-Time High on TV

    According to a new study by the advocacy group GLAAD, the percentage of recurring LGBTQ characters on prime-time American shows has jumped to 10.2 percent, surpassing the organization's goal for 2020. Among the characters attracting the spotlight are Ruby Rose's Batwoman and Cobie Smulder's bisexual Stumptown character. TV's increasing diversity is also seen in FX's Pose, which has the biggest LGBTQ cast ever for a scripted show.

    Is there room for improvement? GLAAD, which hailed the progress, wants to see 20 percent representation by 2025, while also ensuring half of those characters are people of color.

    Read this OZY True Story about getting jailed for being gay.

  5. Can Western Cash End South Korea's Esports Dominance?

    Asian teams have long ruled esports, with South Korea — which established a national gaming infrastructure two decades ago — becoming particularly dominant. But with major investments in recent years, teams from Europe and North America are hoping to bridge that gap, OZY reports. They attracted an estimated $4.5 billion in cash last year alone, though analysts say that probably won’t pay off for another few years.

    What else is needed? Observers say a more robust amateur system that gives players a clear path to going pro is the next crucial step for North America, already the world's largest esports market.