10.23.2019

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Need To Know
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Taylor Testifies
The top US diplomat to Ukraine testified to a House panel yesterday he believed the White House was seeking a quid pro quo by withholding military aid in exchange for politically-motivated investigations. William Taylor, a career foreign service officer who served during the Bush and Obama administrations, became of interest after he surfaced in a series of text messages (read here) questioning why $400M in funding was being delayed. The White House has steadfastly rejected the claim, maintaining the move was part of an effort to root out corruption in the Ukrainian government. Administration supporters have also pointed out documents released to date - including a call transcript and whistleblower complaint - contain no explicit evidence that an exchange of favors was sought. Read Taylor's opening statement from the closed-door hearing. 

In the hours before Taylor was set to testify, the president sparked backlash with a tweet comparing the inquiry to a "lynching."
All Eyes on Los Angeles
The NBA returned last night with the Los Angeles Clippers winning a superstar showdown over the Los Angeles Lakers, 112-102. Anticipation for the opening night matchup had been building since a trio of high-profile offseason moves once again made the city an NBA power center. After missing the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons after moving from Cleveland to the Lakers, LeBron James wooed All-Star Anthony Davis from New Orleans. Not to be outdone, their crosstown rivals reeled in megastar Kawhi Leonard, who was named Finals MVP last season after leading the Toronto Raptors to a shocking upset over the Golden State Warriors. Leonard, on his third team in three years, was later joined by All-Star Paul George. The blockbuster deals overshadowed other big moves, including Kevin Durant leaving Golden State for Brooklyn and Russell Westbrook joining James Harden in Houston. 

Meanwhile, the injury bug has bitten many others, including top draft pick Zion Williamson and Warriors star Klay Thompson.
Varsity Blues
Federal prosecutors announced new charges against 11 parents involved in a massive college admissions scandal that broke open in March, raising the potential for significantly more jail time for several celebrity defendants. Of the 51 originally indicted, officials are zeroing in on parents - including celebrity Lori Loughlin - who have yet to plead guilty, accusing them of bribing college programs that receive federal funds. The new charges carry up to an additional five years in prison. Under the original scheme parents paid a total of $25M to William Singer, CEO of college prep company The Key. Singer, in turn, disbursed funds to a number of people to boost the accomplishments of undeserving students to better their chances of admission into schools like Georgetown, USC, Yale, and elsewhere. Of the 33 parents indicted in March (see list), roughly half have pleaded guilty - prosecutors had warned parents fighting the case that new charges would be brought unless they accepted plea deals. 

It's a strange case - read some of the more absurd details here.
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In The Know
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Sports, Entertainment & Culture
> Washington tops Houston 5-4 to win Game 1 of the World Series; Game 2 tonight in Houston (8pm ET, Fox) (More)
> Federal judge sides with Chicago in refusing to dismiss the city's lawsuit against Jussie Smollett seeking to recoup $130K police spent investigating Smollett's claim of being victim to a racist and homophobic attack (More)
> Willie Brown, Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive back and Oakland Raiders legend, dies at 78 (More)
Science & Technology
> Impact from asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs 66 million years ago also caused severe ocean acidification, leading to mass extinction of marine life (More)
> New 3-D printing technique, combined with biocompatible inks, allows for implantable blood vessels (More)
> Doctors link spread of polio-like acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) in US children to a particular strain of common enterovirus (More)
Business & Markets
> SoftBank to invest more than $10B in WeWork in the form of debt and buying out existing shareholders for 60-80% control at a reported $8B valuation, bringing SoftBank’s total investment to $19B; ex-CEO Adam Neumann to receive up to $1.7B and will sever ties with company (More)
> Officials say 47 state attorneys general join Facebook probe into antitrust matters (More) | Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before the House Financial Services Committee today to discuss Libra cryptocurrency project (More)
> Nike CEO Mike Parker to step down in 2020, to be replaced by ex-eBay CEO (More) | ... and Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, who founded the company in his grandmother’s basement in 1996, to step down in 2020; will be replaced by COO (More)

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Politics & World Affairs
> Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin agree Russia will help clear Kurdish fighters from northern Syrian border; follows US withdrawal two weeks ago (More)
> UK lawmakers formally endorse Boris Johnson's Brexit plan, but vote down fast-tracking approval, with country unlikely to meet Oct. 31 deadline to have deal in place (More)
> Anonymous administration official who penned New York Times 2018 "resistance" op-ed will reportedly publish a book next month (More)
Etcetera
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The 43 most haunted places in the world.
When AI determines your employability by scanning your face
Asteroid photobombs the Hubble telescope.

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Disney releases final trailer for The Rise of Skywalker.
Inside New York's revamped Museum of Modern Art
Amazonian bird shatters record for world's loudest bird call (consider removing your headphones before listening...). 
Science determines precisely how to wash your hands
Drones reveal London's perfectly imperfect geometry
Clickbait: How to get fired as a local reporter
Historybook: First National Women’s Rights Convention begins (1850); Comedian and Tonight Show host Johnny Carson born (1925); HBD soccer legend Pelé (1940); Suicide bombings at US Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon kills 241 US servicemen (1983); 130 die in Moscow theater hostage crisis (2002).
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