He had style, if not grace. The presidential press secretary reportedly resigned Friday over President Donald Trump’s appointment of Wall Street financier and vocal Trump supporter Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director, which also chafed Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and advisor Steve Bannon. Known for his peculiar, often heated responses to reporters’ questions, the famously lampooned Spicer won some loyalty among correspondents he sparred with over “alternative facts.” One lamented that his replacement, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, had “less humor,” while Spicer departed with Trump’s highest praise: “Just look at his great television ratings.”
The Presidential Daily Brief
No, pardon me. This week President Donald Trump reportedly asked whom he had the power to pardon, including his aides, family and … himself. It’s never been done, but the Constitution only prohibits the chief executive from thwarting an impeachment, so some experts say it’s possible. Other reports have said Trump wants to stymie one Russiagate inquiry by investigating the alleged conflicts of interest of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who’s now probing the president’s business ties to Russia, in addition to other links his campaign appears to have had to Kremlin election meddling.
They were doing so well. Despite a celebrated economic miracle, Poland is careening headlong toward disaster — dragging the European Union along with it. The Law and Justice Party-dominated senate today passed a law “reforming” the judiciary, giving the ruling party broad powers to replace high-court judges who certify elections. It’s brought thousands of protesters into the streets — a poll shows 55 percent of Poles favor a presidential veto — and warnings from officials in Brussels, who’ve threatened to strip Poland of its EU voting rights if it neuters democratic institutions.
They can’t live with this. After state-level medical restrictions helped shutter clinics providing surgical abortions, the procedures have declined to their lowest numbers in decades. But women and their doctors have been turning to medication abortions — permissible up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy — as an alternative that’s on track to overtake its invasive counterpart. To confront this new challenge, abortion foes have employed psychology, promoting a regret narrative, while conservative states are enacting laws requiring doctors to offer a medical “antidote” to the termination drugs — even though its safety remains unproven.
The Week Ahead: Today President Trump will help commission the $12.9 billion USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier after a two-year delay and $2.4 billion in cost overruns. Briton Chris Froome is favored to win the Tour de France, which concludes Sunday on Paris’ Champs-Élysées. On Monday and Tuesday, presidential adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is scheduled to testify before the Senate and House intelligence committees, respectively, on Russiagate. On Wednesday, Donald Trump Jr. is set to similarly testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Know This: Minneapolis’ chief of police has resigned in the wake of the fatal shooting of an unarmed Australian woman. A Palestinian man reportedly stabbed three Israelis to death near a West Bank settlement. And Hawaii is planning to update Cold War-era nuclear preparedness drills now that North Korea has tested ICBMS.
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Can Atlas shrug it off? Alpha-male investment managers are losing their grip. Years of meager returns and the development of finance-savvy artificial intelligence bled $326 billion from actively managed funds last year, while $429 billion flowed into passively managed and algorithm-run funds. Even hedge funds took a $106 billion hit, partly from big investors like pension funds and college endowments opting to invest directly in privately-held firms, aka ”shadow capital” — a record quarter of all private equity investments — perhaps forcing Wall Street titans to share their burden.
We’re universally unique. While mutations were thought both negative and corollary to certain diseases, an influx of genetic data is suggesting the opposite: Mutations are the norm. On average, humans carry 400 of them, but our limited understanding means that rather than answering questions like, “Is my cancer risk high?” many variations remain unexplained. That means people carrying these genetic anomalies don’t know whether they’re pathogenic or benign. Now patients who learn they have variants are finding that testing companies patent their genetic data, so if they want a second opinion, they’ll have to sue.
They’re milk’s special forces. Dairy Management Inc. is waging war against Americans’ disdain for lactose and fat. Embedding with companies like Taco Bell, the government-sponsored group is making sure innovative cheese products find their way onto menus and into consumers’ bellies. The average American eats 35 pounds of the stuff annually, but that’s not enough to revive an ailing dairy industry with a 1.3-billion-pound cheese glut. DMI’s working on that — but some small farmers worry they’ll be left behind while Big Dairy skims all the cream.
They haven’t stopped askin’ why. California’s fabled San Quentin State Prison is home to inmates Earlonne Woods and Antwan Williams — who, with local artist Nigel Poor, have turned to a podcast to tell the stories taking place around them. “Ear Hustle” documents prisoners’ first-person narratives, detailing cellmate selection and bonding with cockroaches and snails, in a bid to make people see inmates as human beings. Having hit number one on the U.S. iTunes podcast charts, Woods and Williams are planning to broadcast to dozens of prisons around the world.
They were two days he’ll never forget. When Xisco Gràcia, 54, plunged into the underwater caves of Mallorca, little did he realize it would be a harrowing journey to the brink. After exploring the underwater labyrinth with a friend, the pair became trapped a kilometer from the entrance, facing death with depleted air tanks. While his companion used their remaining oxygen to escape, Gràcia waited, wondering if he’d survive. Help eventually came — after 60 hours in the water — and now the experienced diver’s ready to go back.