It’s getting interesting. A Russian-American lobbyist and former Soviet military officer told the Associated Press on Friday he attended the meeting last year between Donald Trump Jr. and an allegedly Kremlin-linked attorney. Lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin said the meeting — during which the president’s son sought compromising material on Hillary Clinton — was less substantive than expected. But that’s unlikely to quell growing suspicion that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during last year’s election. U.S. officials also reportedly suspect Akhmetshin of having ties to Russian intelligence, a charge he denies.
The Presidential Daily Brief
His legacy will live on. Supporters of Liu, China’s famed human rights advocate who died yesterday, are reportedly having their social media tributes scrubbed from the internet by government censors. Chinese authorities also roundly rejected international criticism for their refusal to let the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner be treated abroad for liver cancer during his imprisonment. Liu was serving an 11-year sentence for demanding an end to his country’s single-party rule. Beijing is now being pressured to release his wife, poet Liu Xia, from house arrest.
It’s a delicate operation. Revisions to the GOP’s Trumpcare bill have caused deep divisions in the already squabbling Republican party, and the latest iteration — which axes planned tax cuts for individuals earning over $200,000 per year — has met with further opposition from die-hard conservatives like Sen. Rand Paul and party moderates like Sen. Susan Collins. Without those two, Republicans can still pass the bill in a vote expected next week — but even one more defection will send them back to the drawing board.
Prepare your spare room. Hawaiian District Judge Derrick Watson has ruled that last month’s Supreme Court decision to only welcome travelers from six Muslim-majority countries if they have “bona fide” family or business ties has been interpreted too narrowly. Grandparents weren’t initially considered close family, but Watson said they and other relatives should be allowed in under the ruling. He also explicitly approved refugees who have a relationship with a resettlement agency to cross American borders. Advocacy groups estimate an additional 24,000 refugees will now gain admission to the U.S.
It’s a gruesome development. Cosmo DiNardo, 20, has confessed to the murders of four young men who went missing in eastern Pennsylvania a week ago, according to his lawyer. Yesterday investigators found multiple human remains on the DiNardo family farm outside Philadelphia, though only one, 19-year-old Dean Finocchiaro, has been identified so far. The suspect, who suffers from schizophrenia, was already in custody as a person of interest in the case and reportedly directed police to the bodies. DiNardo’s motive — and whether he acted alone — remains unclear.
Know This: Two Israeli policemen have been killed and a third was injured in a shooting near Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. Farm groups in the U.S. are lobbying the government ahead of expected changes to NAFTA. And a repairman stuck in a Corpus Christi, Texas, ATM passed notes out through the machine’s receipt slot until he was rescued.
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Whoever he is, presumably he isn’t in Paris. During the campaign, President Donald Trump often spoke about his friend “Jim,” who he described as someone who loved Paris but stopped visiting because “Paris is no longer Paris” after terrorism rendered it unsafe. Trump, who’s currently visiting the city during its Bastille Day celebrations, was asked about his mysterious friend and whether he still thinks the French capital is a dangerous place. Trump responded that France has “a great president” and that he plans to return, though he didn’t confirm if Jim exists.
You can bank on it. The future of finance is online, and it seems Israel is blazing an electronic trail that’s putting other economically “mature” nations, like the U.K., U.S. and Germany, in the shade. A recent KPMG report ranked it highest for adoption of financial tech, showing that 50 percent of Israeli adults use online banking at least once a month. Experts point to Israel’s young, tech-savvy population, which has embraced tools like mobile apps, online lending and digital wallets in response to the clunky traditional banking culture.
Is fake news about to get more real? Researchers at the University of Washington have developed an artificial intelligence tool that slaps an audio track together with a digitally altered — possibly completely unrelated — video clip, essentially creating fake footage of a real person. The goal of the neural network tech is improving video chat software such as Skype, particularly when poor connectivity is an issue. But many, including the tool’s developers, worry that it will inevitably be misused to create faux news clips and hoax videos.
Stranger things have happened. HBO’s sci-fi series Westworld and comedy stalwart Saturday Night Live tied for first place with 22 nods each for the 69th Emmy Awards. They’re closely followed by Hollywood flashback Feud and supernatural ’80s drama Stranger Things with 18 nominations apiece. HBO remains the most nominated network with 110, despite its flagship Game of Thrones being ineligible this season for airing after the cut-off date. But Netflix — whose nominations surged 70 percent from 2016 — isn’t far behind. Stephen Colbert will host the Sept. 17 ceremony.
It was all just a fantasy. A planned merger between two leading daily fantasy sports betting sites has been called off after the cash-strapped companies decided against an expensive legal battle with the Federal Trade Commission. The U.S. regulators ruled in June that combining FanDuel and DraftKings was too threatening to competition, since together they’re thought to control more than 90 percent of the market. But some take a more cynical view of the failed merger, wondering if the companies opted to avoid hearings that might have revealed brand-tarnishing information.