He’s got “nothing to hide.” So says senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, who claimed on Monday he never worked with Russia to aid his father-in-law’s election to the U.S. presidency. In a statement released ahead of his appearance on Capitol Hill today, Kushner detailed four meetings with Russian contacts, but denied any were “improper.” His closed-door testimony is the first by a member of President Donald Trump’s inner circle as part of the congressional investigation into the Trump campaign’s potential collusion with the Kremlin in last year’s election.
The Presidential Daily Brief
That was unexpected. Thousands have demonstrated around Poland against three bills that critics say would destroy the country’s independent judicial branch. But President Andrzej Duda says he’ll veto two of them — including one that would replace Supreme Court justices with political appointees — averting a potential clash with the European Union, which had expressed dismay at Poland’s political trajectory. “I don’t feel this law would strengthen a sense of justice,” Duda said, sending the Polish zloty rising against the euro but setting himself up for confrontation with other Polish leaders.
The world is watching. Congress is expected to vote tomorrow on extensive new sanctions against Russia in retaliation for its suspected meddling in the U.S. election. While it’s politically difficult for President Donald Trump to oppose the bipartisan legislation, it wasn’t clear if he’d made up his mind to sign it. Now Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says he’ll support the legislation — which also threatens to rile the EU if it affects joint energy projects with Russia. Meanwhile, questions continue to swirl about Trump’s campaign connections to the Kremlin.
Without the free press, what do you have? Media organizations say more than 150 journalists have been imprisoned in Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is reportedly quick to punish critics. Turkish authorities say that figure is inflated, calling many arrested journalists “terrorists.” Today 17 employees of opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet are going on trial on charges of aiding a terrorist organization, after nine months in jail. More than 50,000 people have been arrested since last year’s failed coup, and this trial’s considered a bellwether for future press crackdowns in Turkey.
Regional tensions are simmering. Israel is claiming diplomatic immunity for a security guard at a residential building in the Israeli compound in Amman who reportedly killed two Jordanians. Israel says the guard fired on a man who attacked him with a screwdriver, killing him and a bystander. Local police have identified the dead as a carpenter and the building’s landlord. Tensions are climbing between Israel and Jordan, despite their peace treaty, with thousands of Jordanians protesting the recent installation of metal detectors at the holy Haram al-Sharif site in Jerusalem.
Know This: Nine people died in what authorities say was a human trafficking incident in Texas when 39 people, including children, were trapped inside a tractor trailer in heat topping 100 degrees. At least 35 people were killed by a Taliban-claimed car bomb attack on Kabul today. And a tweet from President Trump saying the president has “complete power to pardon” has raised eyebrows with legal experts, who say it is unclear if the president can pardon himself.
Remember This Number: Ten percent. That’s how far French President Emmanuel Macron’s approval ratings have slid in the past month — the largest, swiftest decline for a French president’s popularity in 22 years.
Answer This: Tell us how you really feel. OZY’s next TV show, Third Rail With OZY, is launching on PBS this fall! To kick things off, we’re shelving the PC and launching debates. Each Wednesday, we’ll post a provocative question, focusing on topics that might make it onto the show. This week: Do you have any suggestions — no matter how wacky — that could eliminate racial bias in policing? Go deep. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts or a personal story, and we might feature your answer next week.
We’ve all got to go sometime. The Parker Manatee Aquarium in Bradenton, Florida, closed Sunday to let staff mourn the accidental death of Snooty, a manatee who’s lived at the facility since 1949. The 1,300-pound manatee reportedly drowned after swimming through a broken hatch door and becoming stuck just two days after his 69th birthday. Snooty, who had been the subject of several death hoaxes, was believed to be the oldest known manatee on record and the first born in captivity. Mourners have been leaving tributes outside the aquarium.
They aren’t throwing out the baby or the bathwater. Businesses in South Africa are tackling water shortages by establishing a market for water that’s already been used once in the home, allowing “gray water” waste from sinks and baths to be repurposed for irrigating gardens or flushing toilets. One estimate says that such recycling installations in Cape Town homes increased 2000 percent in the last 12 years. Yet while such developments look promising for the future of private water conservation, municipalities remain a hurdle as laws and infrastructure are slow to change.
It was right in the neighborhood … in space terms. The brown dwarf star discovered through NASA’s Backyard Worlds project is just 110 light years from Earth. Four citizens scanning space images were able to spot the extremely faint dwarf — a star trained scientists had thus far missed and that computers might have dismissed. Some say this likely isn’t the last major discovery by amateurs, as NASA plans to continue its citizen science initiatives: Anyone with spare time and good eyesight can log on and attempt to discover new worlds.
Everyone has their own way of mourning. Linkin Park canceled its North American tour, which would have started next week, after frontman Chester Bennington apparently took his own life last Thursday. Instead, the nu metal band has set up Chester.linkinpark.com, a site that doubles as a memorial page for the singer and a list of resources for those who may be contemplating suicide. Meanwhile, distraught fans have sent streams of Linkin Park songs skyrocketing 730 percent after Bennington’s death, while the band’s total sales have increased 5,332 percent.
He was history. After suffering four bogeys yesterday on Royal Birkdale’s front nine — and a 13th-hole tee shot so astray that he ended up behind equipment trucks on the driving range — the 23-year-old’s chances looked slim. But Spieth recovered, finishing 12-under — three shots ahead of fellow American Matt Kuchar, who’d briefly held the lead. Spieth’s the youngest golfer since 1979 to claim the Claret Jug, and joins Jack Nicklaus with three majors before age 24. Nicklaus himself praised Spieth’s “great display of guts, determination and skill.”