The Presidential Daily Brief

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    Senate Rejects Broad Obamacare Repeal Amid Debate

    There’s some way to go yet. Republicans were optimistic following Tuesday morning’s victory — which also saw the return of Sen. John McCain — as Vice President Mike Pence dramatically stepped in to break a deadlock and begin floor debate on the GOP health care overhaul. But that optimism was swiftly curbed in the afternoon as nine Republican senators broke ranks and the latest plan to replace Obamacare was defeated 43-57. Then came another defeat for the Trump administration on Wednesday as the Senate voted down a repeal-only bill.

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    Israel Removes Metal Detectors From Holy Site

    They were taking too high a toll. The introduction of new security at Haram al-Sharif, also known as the Temple Mount, sparked massive protests and led to the deaths of both Israelis and Palestinians. Now Israel’s security cabinet has decided to remove the machines, saying they’ll switch to technology like facial recognition cameras that may not be as intimidating to worshippers at the site, which is one of the world’s holiest places for both Jews and Muslims. Over the next six months, $28 million of security equipment will be installed.

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    Jared Kushner Denies Collusion With Russia

    He’s got “nothing to hide.” So says senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, insisting he never worked with Russia to aid his father-in-law’s election. In a statement released before his Senate Intelligence Committee testimony yesterday, Kushner detailed four meetings with Russian contacts, but denied any were “improper.” His closed-door testimony is the first by a member of President Trump’s inner circle as part of the congressional investigations into the Trump campaign’s potential collusion with the Kremlin in 2016’s election. Kushner will testify before the House Intelligence Committee today.

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    SoftBank Reportedly Wants Multibillion-Dollar Uber Stake

    Were they just waiting for the implosion? The Japanese tech behemoth is reportedly eyeing a huge stake in the embattled ride-hailing company, which has recently faced a major intellectual property lawsuit, a sexual harassment probe and its CEO’s departure. Talks are still in preliminary stages: They’ll have to wait until Uber hires a CEO, for one thing. Meanwhile, Uber’s main rival in Singapore, Grab, is making a $2.5 billion play for market share. Similar efforts by Chinese and Russian competitors all but drove Uber out of those countries.

  5. New Blood, Old Alliances and the Boy Scout Jamboree

    Know This: President Trump has reportedly been discussing potential replacements for Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Afghan and American officials, along with video footage, indicate that Russia may be arming Taliban forces. And employers say they’re having trouble filling jobs because many candidates are failing drug testing.

    Read This: In a speech to the Boy Scout Jamboree, President Trump bragged about his victory in the electoral college and threatened to fire Health Secretary Tom Price if Obamacare isn’t repealed.

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    Wisconsin Company Offers Employees Microchip Implants

    That’ll get under your skin. Three Square Market, a vending kiosk company in River Falls, Wisconsin, has announced it will offer free microchipping to employees at a “chip party” August 1. About 50 are reportedly taking the company up on the offer to have an implant between their thumb and forefinger that will facilitate logging into computers, opening doors and buying snacks. The company’s CEO says the implants will have no GPS tracking. Supporters say it’s basic biohacking, but others have voiced concerns about privacy and the potential for coerced chipping.

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    What’s Behind America’s Housing Shortage?

    If you build it, they will come. In the U.S., old homes are falling out of the market at an alarming rate, while construction stalls and demand grows — now surpassing levels not seen since before the 2008 housing crisis. Last year, supply failed to meet demand by 330,000 units. Meanwhile, the high cost of building materials and a labor shortage means that the construction that’s happening tends to be on the upper end of the market, leaving some 65 percent of poverty-level renters without housing that they can afford.

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    College Tuition Hikes Are Finally Slowing

    It’s about time. College tuition spiked by an average of 6 percent each year between 1990 and 2016, but now that trend is decelerating, with 2017 clocking a mere 1.9 percent increase. While demographic trends play a role — the number of 18- and 19-year-olds has declined by 7 percent since 2009 — a stronger economy and increasing unskilled jobs are luring prospective students away, prompting colleges to keep prices competitive. Yet with the class of 2025 poised to be the biggest ever, it’s unclear whether the trend will continue.

    Affordable Education

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    ‘Despacito’ Artists Slam Venezuela’s Maduro for Using Song

    They’re voting “no.” Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and composer Erika Ender, the artists behind the global hit, have condemned the use of their song by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, saying “Despacito” was “not to be used as propaganda.” Maduro has used their tune — which recently became the most streamed song of all time — with altered lyrics urging Venezuelans to vote for his hugely controversial constitutional reforms, which were rejected by millions in a symbolic referendum last week. Nationwide protests continue ahead of the July 30 vote.

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    Concussion Research to Focus on Female Athletes

    It’s not just a man’s problem. Extensive research in recent years has yielded impressive, albeit disturbing, findings on the correlation between contact sports and concussions. But until now it’s focused almost exclusively on men. New research examining the effects of concussions on female athletes suggests they may be at even greater risk, due to higher physical susceptibility to injury and slower recovery time. Definitive answers are far off, but scientists making a concerted effort to study both genders — whether in mice or MMA fighters — could get ahead of the issue.