Sure, it may look bad. But there are still doubts that Donald Trump Jr.’s enthusiastic pursuit of what he thought was Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton was actually illegal. That didn’t stop a California congressman from filing articles of impeachment on Wednesday, or revelations of Russian mobster money laundering inside Trump Tower. Then there’s KGB counterintelligence operative-turned-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin’s presence at the presidential scion’s June 2016 dirt-digging meeting, just to make it interesting. But the impeachment effort’s unlikely to gain traction, as few congressional Republicans would risk nominations in 2018 by defying their president.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Its vital signs are weak. The Obamacare replacement effort seems as afflicted as it was before being injected with opioid abuse treatment funding and relieved of tax cuts for upper-income Americans. Now two GOP senators oppose even bringing the debate to the floor, and another defector would put the bill in critical condition. That’s led to some desperate logic, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell arguing that the legislation’s unpalatable $772 billion reduction in Medicaid won’t happen — because Democrats are expected to put the overhaul out of its misery after the 2018 elections.
The barriers are building. While U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the border wall’s construction will begin this summer, the structure’s lack of funding from Congress suggests this cornerstone of Trump’s campaign will remain symbolic for now. Some 200 proposals were submitted, but bidders have been encouraged, but not compelled, to keep their involvement secret. One finalist called the process “a real mess,” Texas Republicans seem unlikely to support allocating $12 billion to $21 billion to put the project behind them and even the president has been lowering expectations.
They’ve found an outside line. After a state monopoly on phone service ended in 2013, Myanmar’s personal communications industry added more subscribers than any nation its size. Investors are connecting the recently isolated nation such that in just six years, mobile internet access has gone from practically nil to 90 percent. Freewheeling competition has driven prices of smartphones down below $20, with SIM cards selling for $1.50, when they used to go for $2,000 on the black market. The danger might be to providers, who risk being priced out of existence by ruthless competitors.
The Week Ahead: On Wednesday, top U.S. intelligence officials will begin meeting at the four-day Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, a veritable who’s who of Russiagate figures. The same day, the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity will hold its first meeting, and is certain to draw criticism over its handling of Americans’ personal information.
Know This: During a mass gathering marking the first anniversary of a failed coup, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would “break the heads” of its plotters. Authorities in Pennsylvania have charged two young men in the killings of four other youths found buried on a farm. A man and two women living on the 26th floor of a Honolulu high-rise have been identified as the three fatalities of a Friday fire in the building, which was not equipped with sprinklers.
Wanted: OZY is growing! We’re looking to hire a number of additional reporters, videographers, podcasters and editors including a top-tier managing editor. Read more on our jobs page. And please forward to an outstanding friend who you think may be a great fit.
The ball’s in his court now. Without dropping a set all tournament, the 35-year-old Swiss maestro surpassed the record held by Pete Sampras and William Renshaw, taking his 19th Grand Slam title and becoming the oldest man to win it all at the All England Lawn Tennis Club. His opponent, Marin Cilic, 28, was battling a foot injury and succumbed 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 after just an hour and 41 minutes on the court. Afterward, Federer, who’s on track for No. 1 status, described the win as “magical, really.”
Does close count? After facing myriad difficulties that include a debilitating illness and ongoing questions surrounding a recent fatal auto accident, Venus Williams, 37, seemed nonetheless poised to reclaim some of her grass court glory yesterday. But she couldn’t fight her way past powerful 23-year-old Spaniard Garbiñe Muguruza, who won her first Wimbledon title 7-5, 6-0 — two years after losing to Venus’ superstar sister Serena, now on a maternity break, in the same fabled venue. It was "incredible," Muguruza said, as "I grew up watching her play."
There’s definitely smoke. A new investigation has found that big tobacco’s waging a war against African nations’ attempts to regulate its carcinogenic wares. With the world’s fastest-growing smoker population estimated at 77 million, the continent’s health ministries are reportedly facing intimidation and legal pressure from multinational cigarette-making companies. Giants like British American Tobacco are developing markets in these impoverished nations while challenging anti-smoking regulations proven effective in developed nations. And while such companies deny their marketing targets kids, consumer advocates report seeing vendors along well-trod paths to school.
It was a free space. A glaring symptom of Europe’s refugee crisis, the community of some 7,000 migrants called “The Jungle” in Calais, France, was much more, posits open-borders activist Natasha King. Before French authorities dismantled it in October, it was an open place where people from myriad cultures, from Afghan to Kurdish to Chadian, were thrown together to make a lawless, but functioning society. For King, it was a glimpse — with all of its problems and promise — of the kind of borderless world she hopes might someday come into existence.
Get your mitts on some gender parity. Most girls who play baseball get steered out of the sport by age 11, shunted into softball or some other line-toeing alternative. Others find Girls Travel Baseball, the only American youth-oriented, all-female travel team, whose 42 players crisscross the U.S. competing against boy’s teams — and sometimes, says one team member, bringing them to tears. GTB’s players are already sensitive to discrimination against girls in sports, and some even harbor dreams of smashing the MLB’s glass ceiling with a Louisville Slugger.
Who says video games are unhealthy? Overwatch, with more than 30 million players, offers a wholesome twist. It’s boosting much-needed autism awareness by featuring a character named Symmetra, who misunderstands social cues during gameplay and craves rigid structure. There’s also Ana, 60, a one-eyed Egyptian sniper, Junkrat, an Australian amputee explosives expert, and Tracer, a lesbian British time jumper. They’re all part of an effort by game developers to mirror gamers’ diversity — with characters possessing a mix of unique attributes that can unlock players’ perceptions of other people’s differences.
They’re the “Worldwide Leader in Sports.” But locking in billions’ worth of live sports broadcast rights in the face of epidemic cord-cutting has upended the balance sheet. ESPN’s lost more than 13 million subscribers since 2011, and now it’s rethinking content and presentation to adapt to the online highlights paradigm and keep viewers in their seats. New-look shows and more digital-friendly programming are key parts of a revamped strategy, also employed by Fox Sports, that aims to keep the network in the game while the goalposts are still moving.