The tech giant has become the second company after Apple to reach a market capitalization of $1 trillion. Launched from founder Jeff Bezos’ garage in 1994 as an online bookseller, Amazon has stunned observers with its skyrocketing profits, amassing some $965 billion in value over the last 10 years. Expanding into everything from video to healthcare, it’s also come close to collapse: “I’ve made billions of dollars of failures,” he said in 2014, adding that a few successes made up for it. The company still faces scrutiny for its approach to taxes and workers’ rights.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The Senate confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee opened on Tuesday with demands from Democrats for a delay to review thousands of new documents. Republicans were hoping to use the session to praise Kavanaugh while Democrats started pressing him on hot button issues Wednesday. He’s so far called the case legalizing abortion – Roe v. Wade – “an important precedent”; defended his dissenting opinion that a ban on semi-automatic rifles would be unconstitutional; and denied he’d rule in favor of the President who nominated him.
“Good job Jeff.” So tweeted President Donald Trump, launching fresh criticism against embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions yesterday for approving criminal charges last month against two Republican congressmen accused of corruption. Trump suggested the charges could harm the GOP’s position ahead of November’s midterms. “Two easy wins now in doubt,” he added, apparently referring to Reps. Chris Collins of New York and Duncan Hunter of California — the first two congressman to endorse Trump in 2016. Collins has been charged with insider trading and Hunter with misuse of campaign funds.
It’s heating up. Yesterday police in Rio de Janeiro clashed with protesters who blamed funding cuts and mismanagement for the devastating fire that gutted Brazil’s National Museum Sunday. Investigators are still assessing the damage, but most of the 200-year-old institution’s 20 million artifacts are believed to have been lost. Critics say Brazil’s spending on the 2016 Summer Olympics and other massive construction projects came at the cost of maintaining existing structures. Officials reported that the museum’s sprinkler system was outdated and the nearest fire hydrants had run dry, delaying firefighters.
Jalaluddin Haqqani, who established the network that became one of Afghanistan’s most feared fighting groups, has died after a long illness, the Taliban reported, noting, “His ideology and methodology continue to endure.” Founded in the 1970s and once backed by the U.S., the Haqqani network fought Soviet troops before turning on American and Afghan forces in 2001, when it became known for well-organized attacks and high-profile kidnappings. Afghan officials don’t expect major changes to the group: Haqqani handed power to his son, a top Taliban leader, years ago.
They just did it. Celebrating the 30th anniversary of its famous “Just Do It” campaign, Nike’s new ad features a black-and-white portrait of the controversial former San Francisco 49er. “Believe in something,” the ad reads. “Even if it means sacrificing everything.” The company faces a mounting backlash amid calls for a boycott — a sacrifice some experts say Nike’s willing to make for a long-term payoff in sales. Kaepernick has filed a suit accusing the NFL of conspiring to keep him off the field over his national anthem protests.
Know This: President Trump has warned Syrian President Bashar Assad and his allies not to “recklessly attack” the rebel-held Idlib province ahead of a suspected government offensive there. Aretha Franklin’s family has criticized an Atlanta pastor for delivering a politically charged eulogy at the singer’s funeral last week. During a visit to Israel’s national Holocaust memorial, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte called Adolf Hitler “insane” — a surprising reversal from previous comments comparing himself to the Nazi leader. And today OZY’s Around the World campaign takes you to Uzbekistan, where you’ll find delicious cheese balls that can last for years.
Remember This Number: $88 billion. That’s the estimated value of the online advertising market Amazon’s hoping to dominate by elbowing out competitors like Facebook and Google.
We’re hiring: OZY is looking for a talented Email Marketing Manager to oversee strategy and deploy smart campaigns. Could this be you? Check out the job description for more details … and find all our open jobs right here.
Let it ring. An automated message pretending to be Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, speaking in a minstrel accent and using a racial slur, is reportedly targeting Florida voters ahead of the swing state’s November gubernatorial election. The calls were paid for by a neo-Nazi podcast linked to other campaigns across the country, including in Charlottesville, Virginia. Gillum won Florida’s Democratic primary last week. If he beats Republican nominee Ron DeSantis — who’s been criticized for dog-whistle racism but disavowed the calls as “disgusting” — Gillum would become the state’s first Black governor.
Hoping to stem a brain drain that’s seen 7 percent of the Central Asian country’s citizens leave to work abroad, Uzbekistan’s government is relaxing rules governing labor in Tashkent. Reversing decades of strict control over the city’s population — in contrast to nearby China, which has recently placed caps on Beijing and Shanghai — Uzbek officials are liberalizing draconian work permit laws with an eye toward boosting the local economy and attracting more skilled labor. Those changes are being phased in slowly, though, to avoid overcrowding and taxing Tashkent’s aging infrastructure.
They’ll be watching. Yesterday the tech giant released free artificial intelligence software aimed at detecting online child sexual abuse material up to 700 percent more effectively. Using machine vision, it flags potentially offensive material and prioritizes it for review by human moderators — replacing the current role of crawlers, which only flag previously identified materials. “This will help with triaging,” says Fred Langford, deputy CEO of the Internet Watch Foundation, a major abuse monitor that’s currently testing the software. Langford says fully automated tools could be just a few years away.
After a wave of backlash among readers, celebrities and even one of his own staff writers, New Yorker Editor David Remnick has called off plans for the conservative firebrand and former White House chief strategist to headline the magazine’s annual festival next month. Scheduled guests including Judd Apatow and Jim Carrey said they wouldn’t attend if Bannon — who called the move “gutless” — remained onboard. Remnick, who’d pledged to ask “difficult questions,” was set to interview Bannon about “the ideology of Trumpism.”
Both tennis greats crashed out of the tournament yesterday in back-to-back upsets. Five-time champion Roger Federer blamed sweltering heat at New York’s Arthur Ashe stadium for his poor performance against John Millman, who later said, “I have so much respect for Roger and everything he’s done for the game.” Maria Sharapova’s 22-0 tournament record while playing at night was shattered by Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro — who was celebrating her 30th birthday. The Russian’s loss marks her first failure to reach a U.S. Open quarterfinal since 2012.