The Presidential Daily Brief

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    Ramadan Worshippers Targeted in London Van Attack

    “I want to kill all Muslims!” That’s what a witness reportedly heard from the driver of a van that plowed into pedestrians early Monday near North London’s Finsbury Park Mosque after evening prayers. Ten were injured and one man is dead, though he reportedly collapsed before the van struck, and his cause of death is unclear. The suspect, identifed as 47-year-old Darren Osborne, is in custody. British Prime Minister Theresa May called the incident — during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and two weeks after a similar ISIS-claimed incident on London Bridge — “an attack on Muslims.” 

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    Raging Portuguese Wildfire Kills Dozens

    It showed no mercy. A forest fire raced through central Portugal today, claiming 61 lives — perhaps half of them in their cars as flames trapped them on an escape route. Authorities believe dry lightning, which occurs when a storm’s rain evaporates before it reaches the ground, ignited the fire in the Pedrógão Granda region, where dry winds combined with 104-degree temperatures to fuel the wildfire. Prime Minister António Costa said it was “the worst tragedy in terms of human lives that we’ve known in recent years,” and declared three days of national mourning. 

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    Navy Finds Missing Sailors’ Bodies

    The search is over. The U.S. Navy said it has found seven bodies of crewmen missing after a commercial freighter hit one of its warships near its base in Japan. A statement said it the bodies were discovered in flooded living quarters today — a day after the USS Fitzgerald, a guided missile destroyer, was rammed by the Philippines-registered ACX Crystal, which is 200 feet longer and several times heavier. The Navy said it was notifying family members, some of whom live at the ship’s Yokosuka Naval Base, and has stopped looking for survivors.

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    ‘I Am Being Investigated’

    He’s a reliable source. On Friday, after hurling vitriol at a Washington Post report that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was investigating him for possible obstruction of justice, President Donald Trump verified the story himself, tweeting, “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director.” He also said his inquisitor was “the man who told me” to fire Director James Comey — an apparent reference to Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who hired Mueller. Put in charge of Russiagate queries after Attorney General Jeff Sessions excluded himself, the deputy’s now saying he, too, may need a recusal.

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    GOP Fears Dems Can Snatch Georgia’s 6th District

    It’s putting the “special” back into special election. On Tuesday, Democrats hope to strip Georgia’s 6th Congressional District from Republicans for the first time since presidential confidant Newt Gingrich won it in 1978. Their great hope is Jon Ossoff, who led the pack in April 18’s first-round ballot with his “Make Trump Furious” mantra and has raised at least $24 million of $40 million in the costliest House contest ever. And some polls surprisingly show Ossoff pulling ahead of Republican Karen Handel — prompting GOP leaders to plan for the worst.

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    Minnesota Shooting Trial Ends With Officer’s Acquittal

    It was caught on Facebook Live. But the crucial motion of Philando Castile’s hand before his fatal shooting July 6, was not. Jurors in St. Paul, Minnesota deliberated for about 29 hours before unanimously clearing Officer Jeronimo Yanez of second-degree manslaughter. He testified that he thought Castile, who told him he had a licensed firearm, was pulling a gun rather than his driver’s license. Castile’s family cried out against the verdict, and later police arrested 18 of the 500 Black Lives Matter demonstrators who blocked a nearby Interstate 94.

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    Minding the Barricades With Venezuela’s Green Cross

    “We cannot be heroes because heroes fall.” That’s the mantra of the Cruz Verde, Venezuela’s volunteer medical corps triaging protesters who’ve been hit by tear gas and violence as the country’s rocked by anti-government demonstrations. Every day the group, which has grown to 200 members in the two years since its inception, races into Caracas to help those protesting on the front lines, transporting them away from the crowds for medical aid — and inspiring others around the country to form similar groups to pull fellow Venezuelans out of harm’s way.

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    Life of the Liberal Gunman

    You know the type: online rants about the “Trump the traitor,” and the like. Except that James Hodgkinson, 66, went further: “It’s time to destroy Trump and Co.” Then he shot four people at a Republican baseball practice near Washington Wednesday morning, critically injuring House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. Fatally wounded at the scene, Hodgkinson apparently chose to take his hatred of the government offline — not surprising, perhaps, for a man who’d been arrested for threatening his Illinois neighbor with a shotgun — renewing debate over glorifying violence on the political stump.

  9. House Expects Comey Tape Story, London Fire Fueled by Prohibited Covering and Macron’s Party Wins Parliamentary Landslide

    The Week Ahead: The House Intelligence Committee has asked the White House to reveal — by Friday — if there are recordings of President Trump’s conversations with ousted ex-FBI Director James Comey. On Wednesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee will hear testimony on Russian election interference. And the NBA will hold its annual draft on Thursday.

    Know This: Projections show French President Emmanuel Macron’s new centrist party winning an overwhelming majority in today’s final round of parliamentary elections. After an eight-month campaign, Iraqi forces are assaulting the old city, one of the last areas of Mosul held by ISIS. At least 58 people died as a result of the Wednesday fire in London’s Grenfell Tower, now said to have been fueled by insulated exterior cladding banned in Britain. And Milwaukee Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr., who’s said Black Lives Matter is allied with ISIS, has withdrawn his acceptance of a senior position with the Department of Homeland Security.

    Talk to Us: We want your feedback on the Presidential Daily Brief — what you think we’re doing right and what we should be doing differently. Send us an email at pdbrief@ozy.com.

intriguing

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    Judge Declares Mistrial in Cosby Sexual Assault Case

    They had doubts. After six long days of deliberations, Judge Steve O’Neill released the jury of seven men and five women on Saturday. They heard evidence — including just one defense witness — on the merits of Bill Cosby’s three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault in a 2004 incident at the iconic actor and comedian’s Pennsylvania home. His lawyers called it consensual sex, despite Cosby’s admission he gave accuser Andrea Constand pills she said immobilized her. Prosecutors they’ll retry the entertainer, no doubt spurred on by dozens of other women’s accusations against the entertainer.

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    German Reunification Leader Helmut Kohl Dies at 87

    He’s a man Europe will never forget. Legendary German statesman Helmut Kohl, who helped engineer Germany’s reunification after the fall of the Berlin Wall, died on Friday at 87. The longest-serving German chancellor of the 20th century, Kohl was also a mentor to current Chancellor Angela Merkel. He played an outsize role in the greater European project, too: along with former French President Francois Mitterrand, Kohl was instrumental in establishing the euro as the continent’s common currency. “We Germans,” he’s reported to have said during reunification, “have learned from history.”

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    Despite Exoneration, Some Innocents Remember a Killing

    They didn’t do it. But the Beatrice Six, convicted of murdering 68-year-old Helen Wilson in 1985, have been proven innocent “beyond all doubt” by DNA evidence — even though some of them can still remember details like the feel of the pillow that suffocated the victim. Townsfolk in Beatrice, Nebraska, remain skeptical the six aren’t guilty, even with another person’s semen and blood found at the scene. But it’s understandable: Research has found that 70 percent of us, after hearing oft-repeated elements of a crime, can be imprinted with false memories.

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    North Carolina Moderates Under Fire

    Rage sells. While Democrats around the country have rallied in angry resistance in the months after Donald Trump’s election, they may not see a resurgence in formerly borderline red states like North Carolina as riled partisans hew ever closer to their president, even as they reject their congressional representatives as overly moderate. Strong Republican representation in the state, however, may shrink after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that civil rights-violating district lines must be renegotiated, which could help move legislative boundaries — while advancing the left’s barricades.

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    The Great Blockchain Robbery

    Did they move too fast? Using ultra-secure code dispersed on a worldwide network, Ethereum’s creators took blockchain, the programming concept that’s enabled bitcoin’s success, to another level. But a year ago, when their ether currency’s collective value hit $250 million, a bug was discovered — almost simultaneously by programmers and hackers — setting off a high-stakes cyber war. Ethereum limited the theft by rebooting the network, but purloined currency stayed active, attracting new traders while the thieves remained anonymous, their modest heist appreciating to $67 million — thanks to a system that runs itself.

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    Where Does Microblogging Stardom Lead?

    Never have typos been so popular. Twitter sensation Jonny Sun — better known as sappy extraterrestrial “jomny sun” — has earned a half-million followers with his absurdist, random humor. Now he’s seeking ways to translate that popularity into more meaningful forms. Besides releasing an illustrated book based on his Twitter feed, the MIT Ph.D. candidate is investigating online communities and how social media affects the broader world. Sun’s unique experience as a star of what’s become known as “Weird Twitter” will surely provide thesis material — 140 characters at a time.

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    OK, So Maybe It IS the Ball

    It’s way out in left field. The rate of home runs in baseball is skyrocketing. We’re not even halfway through the season, and the count has already surpassed the 2014 season’s by 57 percent. So what gives? New data suggests regulation baseballs might be a factor, even if MLB officials say it ain’t so. Researchers have measured minor changes in the ball introduced in 2015 and believe they’ve made a significant enough difference in how far and high the thing will soar — combined with batters’ responses to those livelier targets.