He was a primary target. Hafiz Saeed Khan, the regional ISIS leader for Pakistan and Afghanistan, was reportedly killed by a U.S. drone strike last month. The Afghan ambassador to Pakistan today made the news public, announcing that Khan’s thought to have died in the eastern province of Nangarhar on July 26th. The strike allegedly killed up to 30 people, many of them thought to be senior militants: ISIS, however, denies that Khan was one of them. Though the US military has yet to confirm Khan’s death, it would be a heavy blow to ISIS’ hold on the region.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They’re calling it a coordinated attack. Thailand is on high alert after bomb blasts rocked tourist towns across the country. Nine mobile-detonated bombs went off in five places, including the popular vacation spot Hua Hin. Many of the 35 wounded are foreign tourists. Thai authorities have confirmed four dead and say they’ve made arrests, though no one’s claimed responsibility. The carnage comes a week after Thai voters approved a military-backed constitution, prompting speculation about insurgent involvement. As investigators look for answers, foreign embassies have urged holidaymakers to remain vigilant.
It’s a scary stalemate. Russian troops have built up in Crimea following a week of Russia flexing rhetorical and military muscle against Ukraine. On Wednesday, Moscow accused Ukraine of plotting terror attacks in Crimea. But Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko responded bluntly, accusing Putin of creating “a pretext for more military threats.” Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine two years ago, making the region a hotspot for international tensions — and the front lines for Russian expansion. With Putin talking self-defense, many fear this escalation is looking all too familiar.
They agree on something. Days after Donald Trump outlined his economic plan, Hillary Clinton presented her own contrasting vision, which she says will better boost the middle class. But she, like Trump, rejected the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, despite hints from allies that she might accept an amended version. Trump continued escalating his rhetorical bombast — against the wishes of his own party — while musing that if his tactics don’t work, he’s “going to have a very, very nice long vacation” after the election.
It’s a red-letter day, written in black ink. Yesterday, the Dow Jones, Nasdaq and S&P 500 all saw record highs on the same day, which hasn’t happened in 17 years. With bond yields dropping as central banks in Europe and Asia try to boost economies through stimulus efforts, sovereign bonds are less attractive — and moneymakers are turning to U.S. equities instead. Some analysts say this is likely to be just the beginning of a streak for U.S. stocks as investors come back from summer vacations and jump onto the wave.
Know This: The Daily Beast has apologized for a journalistic foray on Grindr that outed gay Olympians. Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan’s been “randomly selected” at a U.S. airport … again. And Venezuela and Colombia are set to reopen their border after a year’s closure.
Watch This: The Force is strong with this one. The hotly anticipated Rogue One trailer features a tantalizing glimpse of a Star Wars favorite.
Try This: Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB quiz.
The clock lost. Katie Ledecky continued her eye-popping Rio run Friday, breaking the world record in a crushing 800 freestyle win for her fourth gold. Fellow American swimmer Maya DiRado upset Hungary’s “Iron Lady” Katinka Hosszu to win gold in the 200-meter backstroke. Singapore’s Joseph Schooling won the 100-meter butterfly and his nation’s first ever gold — ahead of Michael Phelps (and his Olympic record), who amazingly silvered in a three-way tie. And 16 years after his first gold, Anthony Ervin, 35, won his second in the 50 free.
It was a red, white, and blue night. American swimmers cleaned up across the board. Michael Phelps collected the 22nd gold medal of his career for the 200-meter individual medley, Ryan Murphy won the 200-meter backstroke and Simone Manuel became the first African-American woman to take an individual swim gold with her 100-meter freestyle tie. On the mat, Simone Biles, 19, routed the all-around as U.S. teammate Aly Raisman grabbed silver. Winning by astonishing margins, Biles is vaulting her way to serious “greatest of all time” consideration.
He’s looking ahead. Lee Shing Chak has made a multimillion dollar business in fortune telling, an ancient art Chak has adapted for the modern age. The media-friendly Hong Konger doesn’t stare into a crystal ball, but rather adopts the principles of balance in feng shui, while drawing on astronomy, metaphysics and other disciplines. His published predictions on everything from the World Cup to Ebola have borne fruit, he says, and while China still officially prohibits it as a superstitious practice, one could reliably predict feng shui has a harmonious future there.
It’s app-alling. Paying via phone has never been easier — but U.S. retailers aren’t all jumping on the Apple Pay bandwagon. Instead, Walmart and now CVS have created their own “wallet” apps, which make it easier for them to track consumer data and create custom features, but means buyers must clutter their phones with retailer-specific applications. Starbucks recently decided to accommodate Apple Pay — but it still has its own app, and some worry that without standardization, customers will never buy into mobile payments.
Test tubes are so 40 years ago. But even the latest fertility technique has been around for more than a decade, and it’s still not approved by U.K. authorities. In 2003, scientists announced they could create “three-parent babies” to circumvent mitichondrial genetic disorders — and were accused of playing God. Britain’s the only country to legalize this technique, which uses DNA from a father, carrier mother, and a donated egg. But now the research team has resurfaced to urge U.K. regulators to officially approve the procedure by the end of 2016.
It’s an act. Method acting is coming back to Hollywood in a big way — and it’s taking a turn for the weird. Jared Leto, who reportedly played diabolical tricks on Suicide Squad castmates to emulate the Joker, has been panned for his warped take on getting into character. Other stars like Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale have garnered publicity for enduring character-inspired physical changes and privations. While it worked for Marlon Brando, critics have slammed this trend as bad practice — and one women could never get away with.