He’s making nice. After spending much of the week declining to back the country’s highest elected Republican, Trump declared at a Friday night Green Bay, Wisconsin, rally ”I support and endorse our Speaker of the house Paul Ryan.” Ryan faces a primary challenge Tuesday from political novice Paul Nehlen, whom the presidential nominee had praised while saying he was “not quite there yet” on backing Ryan. Trump also endorsed Republican Sens. John McCain and Kelly Ayotte, after attacking them, an attempt to quell intraparty feuding that came during the Olympics opening ceremonies.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They got off light. The World Anti-Doping Agency called for a blanket ban on Russia’s Olympic hopefuls after a state-run doping program was exposed. But the International Olympic Committee demurred: After scrutiny of each athlete’s doping record, they’ve decided 271 Russian competitors can try their luck in Rio, while 118 won’t be welcome. Russia’s Olympic Committee is protesting on behalf of their banned athletes, some of whom can challenge prohibitions based on past violations — but the national team is still expected at today’s opening ceremony.
The hole may be too deep. Clinton’s post-convention polling bounce gives her commanding leads in swing states Donald Trump badly needs. Head-to-head surveys show her up by six points in Florida, nine in Michigan, 11 in Pennsylvania and 15 in New Hampshire. There are signs the billionaire’s feud with a fallen soldier’s parents is costing him in military communities. Meanwhile, Speaker Paul Ryan — who has been sparring with Trump himself — warned of “handing President Hillary Clinton a blank check” in a fundraising appeal for House GOP candidates.
Whose strategies do you trust? Without mentioning Donald Trump by name, Obama warned that tactics like blanket bans and indiscriminate military assaults against Muslims would “backfire” in the fight against ISIS. While coalition forces are making gains against the militant group in the Middle East, the commander-in-chief said ISIS can still inspire radicals in the U.S. and Europe to commit violence. Meanwhile, Egypt says it’s killed Abu Doaa al-Ansari, who has led ISIS operations in the Sinai peninsula, though the death has yet to be confirmed.
Growth is nice work — if you can get it. After a gangbusters June jobs report following disappointing May numbers, economists predicted July numbers would be somewhat sluggish, with around 179,000 jobs added. Instead, the U.S. reportedly added 255,000 jobs, and May and June saw their totals revised upward as well. The unemployment rate stayed flat, making three straight months of a joblessness rate below 5 percent. This report could have big repercussions: Soaring numbers mean the Federal Reserve is more likely to consider raising interest rates in September.
Moroccan boxer arrested in Olympic Village on suspicion of sexual assault. (BBC)
Syrian group reportedly demands prisoner swap for bodies from downed Russian helicopter. (Al Jazeera)
Melania Trump denies she committed U.S. visa fraud while emigrating. (The Guardian)
NIH lifts ban on human stem cells being injected into animal embryos. (NYT)
FIFA president cleared of wrongdoing by investigation. (BBC)
ANC suffers worst electoral result since apartheid ended. (FT) sub
At least a dozen dead in marketplace shooting in India’s Assam state. (Al Jazeera)
Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB quiz. (OZY)
Not every legend is all wet. In Chinese mythology, civilization was founded by Emperor Yu, a hero who tamed ancient floodwaters and founded the Xia dynasty. But it might be real: Researchers in the Jishi Gorge have evidence of a massive flood 4,000 years ago, including sediment patterns indicating an earthquake-created dam that broke. They’ve also found skeletons of children killed by the quake, and indications it closely preceded the flood. But some scholars say they’ll need to see ancient Xia writing before the myth becomes history.
They’ve got their eyes on the ball. The world’s experts in disease are stepping into a whole new laboratory – the Rio Olympics. Massive international crowds make the games the perfect place to study how pathogens move and adapt. And they might be surprised: In 2010, the WHO warned of swine flu at the Vancouver Olympics, but instead the region saw an unexpected measles outbreak. This year, officials are set to study how Zika and other microbes spread in Rio – and hopefully employ their findings to improve global health.
Is the shape of the future shifting? Engineering researchers in Melbourne have created primitive machines by plunking droplets of liquid metal into water. The self-propelling blobs can move on their own and shape-shift as the water’s acidity and salinity changes. This could help create devices that act like living tissue — and perhaps even 3-D liquid metal robots like the indestructible T-1000 in Terminator 2. Not yet, though: The droplets formed into simple objects, but will need more research before they can track down Sarah Connor.
They say to write what you know. And when Tahir Jetter wrote How to Tell If You’re a Douchebag, a Sundance smash that deconstructs Black millennial romances in a manner reminiscent of self-aware hits like (500) Days of Summer, he knew. He’s been there — and had his heart broken. Jetter, whose film is available on iTunes, is turning heads by melding the Black rom-com genre with neurotic hipster fodder, a move that some hope can diversify the notoriously whitewashed fall-in-love-in-New-York genre.
The bar was too high. On the eve of the Olympic opening ceremony, a newspaper investigation found that USA Gymnastics leaders failed to bring sexual abuse claims to authorities unless they came directly from a victim or the victim’s parents — violating child abuse reporting laws. Court and police records indicate that coaches already suspected of abuse went on to victimize at least 14 underage gymnasts. The Indianapolis Star has filed suit to make public 50 internal dossiers on coaches, sealed as part of a victim’s lawsuit, but the judge has not yet ruled.