They’re locking up. The Justice Department has announced it will end the use of private prisons in the U.S. This decision comes after an extensive review of private vs. federal facilities. The report, released last week, revealed damning evidence about conditions in private prisons: It was found that private facilities had significantly higher rates of assault, property damage, and riots than federal prisons. The prisons won’t be closing right away, however – the Justice Department will review contracts as they come up for renewal. And the move promises logistical issues, including the fact that most inmates in private prisons are non-citizens.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Not so fast. The U.S. Olympic Committee apologized for the “distracting ordeal” involving four swimmers whom Brazilian authorities say lied about being robbed when in fact they vandalized a gas station. Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz — who were yanked from their flight yesterday — were able to travel back to the U.S. today, and Jimmy Feigen provided a revised statement and hopes to leave soon. Ryan Lochte, the gold medalist and apparent ring leader of the group, is already back in the U.S. The USOC will review the matter for possible punishment.
It began with five acres. But just hours later, the Blue Cut Fire near San Bernardino was severing major highway links to Las Vegas and Los Angeles, and people were running for their lives. Nobody’s been reported dead, but 82,000 were ordered to evacuate as 1,300 firefighters battled the unusually fast-moving blaze. Authorities fear hundreds of homes have been destroyed. Rescue teams with dogs are searching wreckage to find victims who may not have escaped, and scientists warn that California’s ongoing drought could spark more ferocious conflagrations.
It makes for great TV. With Breitbart News’ chief as his new campaign CEO and ousted Fox News head Roger Ailes reportedly advising him, Donald Trump’s campaign has now merged with the right-wing media that’s championed the mogul — and excoriated Republican leaders. This latest staff shakeup is seen as an audacious move to battle plummeting poll numbers. Usually reluctant to weigh in on Trump aides, Hillary Clinton’s chairman bashed Steve Bannon as a peddler of “racist … conspiracy theories,” who’s helping Trump “double down on his most small, nasty and divisive instincts.”
The East is back on top, for now. Asian shares have jumped over the past week, putting pressure on Western markets. With the dollar falling, major currencies like the Japanese yen have risen nearly to post-Brexit levels. That’s a welcome change for Japan after last month, when the country’s imports and exports suffered their biggest fall since 2009. Meanwhile, the dollar’s reached a seven-week low and it’s looking increasingly unlikely that U.S. interest rates will get a hike next month — thought analysts say that’ll depend on market data.
Know This: The Philippines’ president is pushing back at the U.N. for criticizing his killer anti-drug campaign. At least three are dead after a suspected Kurdish militant car bombing in Turkey. And you can buy a D-Day tank from a French history museum going bankrupt.
Read This: Want to cheer on a badass queer black intersex Olympian this Friday? Get to know her here.
Watch This: Someone call Indiana Jones. Things got weird at Europe’s top physics lab yesterday when someone caught a fake human sacrifice on camera. Pranking scientists are the suspected culprits behind the staged occult ceremony.
Triple crown him, again. The World’s Fastest Man has retained his title by winning the 200-meter dash in Rio. It’s the Jamaican’s third consecutive Olympics winning the 100- and 200-meter races, and his eighth overall Olympic gold. While Bolt said he was going for the world record, he was impeded by a wet track and the 19.78-second time fell short of his own 19.19 record. American Ashton Eaton, meanwhile, retained his “world’s greatest athlete” status by defending his decathlon gold medal and tying an Olympic record.
It was a shutdown. Track and field stars Brianna Rollins (gold), Nia Ali (silver) and Kristi Castlin (bronze) formed the first-ever U.S. sweep of the 100-meter hurdles. Tianna Bartoletta grabbed gold in the long jump and Evan Jager got a surprise silver in the steeplechase, extending America’s track and field Olympic medal lead over Jamaica and Kenya. After a tough start, the U.S. men’s basketball team steamrolled Argentina, securing a semifinal showdown with Spain on Friday, as Kevin Durant scored a whopping 27 points — an Olympic personal best.
There’s gold in them thar hills … maybe. Amateur researchers have begun to excavate a Polish mountain where locals believe the Nazis stashed a train carrying priceless artwork, guns, gems and gold as the Red Army approached in 1945. Piotr Koper and Andreas Richter produced evidence of the train’s location last year, but geologists and engineers using ground-penetrating radar said they’d debunked the claim. Undeterred, Koper and Richter are drilling three holes in the Owl Mountains, where they believe the loot train rests, and hope to announce findings today.
The oligarchs have their own Craigslist. Cloistered away from commoners, platforms like ShareNett keep big financial transactions opaque and limited to the richest Americans. Instead of mingling and squabbling in person, families use the platforms to arrange high-stakes transactions. “Family offices” that have long managed money for the uber-rich, have gravitated away from media-monitored big financial institutions since the 2008 financial crisis spotlighted their transactions. The new online clubs, if you will, help keep elite investments out of the press — an increasingly hard sell in a digital age.
Watch out, Uber. Ford’s planning to create a fleet of self-driving cars and taxis by 2021 — to operate their very own ride-hailing service. After 10 years of developing autonomous cars — and partnerships with mapping, machine learning and “virtual retina” companies — Ford plans to triple its current fleet of 30 autonomous vehicles by next year. But the ultimate self-drivers won’t even have a steering wheel and will cost a lot more, which may not matter as they’ll be used for taxi services and carpools.
The magic never ends. A few weeks ago, J.K. Rowling told fans she was “done” with the boy wizard, but clearly she doesn’t feel the same about the fantasy world she created. On September 6th she’ll release three new 10,000-word e-books of short stories that publishers say reveal the “dark side” of the wizarding world — and new insight into Remus Lupin, Professor McGonagall and Lord Voldemort’s Hogwarts days. Perhaps the books will help salve the psyches of fans who weren’t pleased by the recent spin-off play about adult Harry.