The Presidential Daily Brief

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  1. venezuela maduro campaign sign shutterstock 334105499

    New Venezuelan Assembly Fires ‘Traitor’ Prosecutor

    Her loyalty was in question. Venezuela’s powerful new constituent assembly, vowing to impose “justice” on “fascist” opponents of President Nicolás Maduro, voted unanimously today to replace the country’s chief prosecutor, Luisa Ortega. She’d been a chavista — partisan of the late leftist leader and Maduro mentor Hugo Chávez — but mounted a legal challenge to the assembly’s recent election. She’s not the president’s only problem, though, as demonstrators continue to clash with security forces and some observers doubt that the military or even the new assembly will prop up the increasingly unpopular leader for long.

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    The Special Counsel Takes the Spotlight

    Robert Mueller, we presume? Just after the whirlwind tenure of White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci ended abruptly, it emerged this week that the special counsel investigating Russiagate isn’t just organizing his office. Mueller has reportedly used grand juries and they’ve quietly been working for weeks, looking into possible administration collusion with Russian election meddling, along with President Donald Trump’s alleged financial links to the Kremlin. It comes at a time when the president’s list of friends is dwindling, and even congressional Republicans are proposing legislation to protect Mueller from summary dismissal.

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    Kenyans on Edge Following Election Official’s Murder

    It would have been “fake news.” That was the most controversial aspect of next Tuesday’s Kenyan presidential and local elections. That is, until Monday’s discovery of the tortured body of Chris Msando, head of the nation’s electoral information systems. The self-proclaimed “digital president” since 2013, Uhuru Kenyatta pledged to investigate. But many believe Msando was killed to allow vote-rigging. Now Kenyans worry about reawakening tribal animosities that incited more than 1,000 killings surrounding 2007 elections — prompting panicked food buying and plans to leave Nairobi, Kenya’s capital and largest city.

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    Taking the ‘I’ Out of Midterms

    Will Trump steal their thunder? Democrats are strategizing for the 2018 midterm elections, which they hope will deliver the 24 seats required to wrest control of the House of Representatives — and presidential impeachment levers. But a dump Trump agenda could backfire. Republicans could co-opt it, arguing that their opponents have little to offer besides “trying to undo the will of the electorate,” says one GOP strategist. Democratic leaders seem to be taking this to heart, last month launching a “Better Deal,” focusing on issues like health and labor, without mentioning the “I” word.

    I-lephant in the Room

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  5. Tillerson’s North Korean Face Time, McMaster’s War and the Future of Work

    The Week Ahead: Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis will be among athletes inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame today in Canton, Ohio. On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will get a chance to talk directly to North Korean officials about their nuclear threats at the ASEAN Regional Forum in the Philippines. And on Thursday, Jordan Spieth begins his shot at becoming golf’s youngest career Grand Slam winner at the PGA Championship in Charlotte, N.C.

    Know This: President Trump reiterated his support Friday for national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who’s being attacked on conservative media. Another embattled administration figure, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has announced that federal news leak investigations have tripled. And Paul Kagame, praised for stopping Rwanda’s 1994 genocide and criticized for autocratic rule, has reportedly won a third term as president.

    Talk to Us: Talk to Us: OZY is taking a look at the future of work and we want your stories. Click here to tell us about what you learned from the worst job you ever had — and join us at Stanford for The Future of Work symposium on Aug. 30!

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    How Libertarian Principles Destroyed a Texas Town

    Freedom isn’t free. Von Ormy, a tiny town of 1,300 near San Antonio, learned that the hard way when it turned itself into an experimental “liberty city” under the untrained hand of law student Art Martinez de Vara. Now the town’s all but collapsed, with no central sewer system — too expensive without debt or taxes, verboten under the municipality’s guiding principles — and an unregulated police department stripped of accreditation. But Martinez de Vara went on to counsel other Texas towns on turning themselves into liberty cities, no matter the cost.

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    When Fast Food Occupied Urban America 

    Do you want fries with that poverty? In the late 1960s, President Richard Nixon garnished his predecessor’s “War on Poverty” with a $65 million program boosting minority-owned businesses. Yet it was the fast food chains’ franchise operations that capitalized most on this new ability to safely enter impoverished markets, increasing minority franchises 25-fold in 15 years. A new book by public health historian Chin Jou, Supersizing Urban America, lays out how community empowerment resulted in a fast-food-dependent and nutrition-starved urban culture that continues to magnify inequality.

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    The People Who Think They Can End Suicide

    Don’t look away. The “Zero Suicide” movement is spreading globally, aiming to eradicate such deaths by changing mindsets. Medical practitioners, activists and policy makers, backed by research, believe that being proactive across public service sectors can have a major impact. Someone in the world commits suicide every 40 seconds, and in Britain, it’s the leading cause of death for women younger than 35 and men under 50. New reforms are shattering “inevitability” narratives that foster apathy, and showing how simple interventions — like installing netting below bridges — could dramatically reduce suicide rates.

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    What’s Making Peruvian Archaeologists So Angry?

    They didn’t drop out of the sky. Latin American archaeologists are fed up with foreigners playing fast and loose with pre-Columbian history, especially when they appear to be mutilating mummies to prove extraterrestrial influence on ancient cultures. Amateur “ufologists” have long looked to places like Peru for clues of “secret ancestors,” passing off modified mummies as Incas from another planet. But experts are now shedding otherwise reserved demeanors to denounce a web series called Unearthing Nazca as racist — discounting the idea that nonwhites couldn’t have built the Western Hemisphere’s greatest civilizations.

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    The Mournful Tale of the Yankees’ Hideki Irabu

    The curve balls were many. In 1997, Hideki Irabu’s heavy, 6′5″ figure loomed atop the Yankees mound, inspiring teammates. Yet his initial promise soon fell to mockery as one bad inning spiraled into multiple losses. Two years later, he was out. Having never met his absentee American GI father growing up in Japan, Irabu’s single-parent upbringing had left him feeling lost — and meeting him as his career fell apart didn’t change that. Without baseball, the 42-year-old drank heavily and, in 2011, hanged himself, leaving his father to contemplate a son’s fate.