Another day, another ban. President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced he’ll seek to ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. military. In a morning tweet, Trump suggested they would burden the military with “tremendous medical costs and disruption.” The move — which outraged LGBT advocates, who say thousands of transgender people are already serving without any problems — would reinstate a ban lifted last year by former Defense Secretary Ash Carter. That was supposed to go into effect this year, but Defense Secretary Jim Mattis recently signed off on a six-month delay for further review.
The Presidential Daily Brief
There’s some way to go yet. Republicans were optimistic following Tuesday morning’s victory — which also saw the return of Sen. John McCain — as Vice President Mike Pence dramatically stepped in to break a deadlock and begin floor debate on the GOP health care overhaul. But that optimism was swiftly curbed in the afternoon as nine Republican senators broke ranks and the latest plan to replace Obamacare was defeated 43-57. Then came another defeat for the Trump administration on Wednesday as the Senate voted down a repeal-only bill.
They’re turning up the heat. The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to slap new sanctions on Russia. The legislative package — which also punishes Iran and North Korea — still needs to pass the Senate, but the resounding 419-3 House vote indicates Capitol Hill is angry enough at Moscow’s meddling that it’s virtually a done deal. That leaves President Donald Trump with an awkward choice: tarnish his budding partnership with Vladimir Putin by approving sanctions, or go easy on Russia amid investigations into potential collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin.
What a few short decades can do. A generation ago, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping urged citizens to “keep our light hidden and bide our time.” Now many believe their time has come. As America reels from political turmoil and uncertain leadership on the world stage, some think China’s global clout is reaching its full potential — even amid Beijing’s efforts to stifle democracy and despite a longstanding U.S. effort to push China to embrace Western values. Instead, a new generation of Chinese nationalists are promoting their country as a beacon of strength and stability.
Welcome to the future: breathe it in. Though the British government’s clean air plan has been criticized as weak, a new draft expected today will reportedly ban all gas and diesel engines starting in 2040. French President Emmanuel Macron announced an identical pledge earlier this month. Activists have been pushing for “clean air zones” where high-polluting vehicles would be fined, but the U.K. is reportedly wary of punishing drivers directly even when battling what it’s described as the country’s largest public health threat.
Know This: President Trump has continued his attack against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, prompting Republicans to come to the former senator’s defense. An EU court ruled Wednesday to keep Palestinian Islamist group Hamas on its terror list. And a new report finds there’s only one middle-class job for every 2.5 high school graduates in the United States.
Remember This Number: 52 percent. That’s how far sperm counts have fallen among men in Western countries over the last 40 years, according to a study from Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The reasons for the decline are so far unclear.
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: Is being poor a sign of failure? Why or why not? Go deep. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts or a personal story, and we might feature your answer next week.
It’s open season. The American Psychoanalytic Association has informed its 3,500 members that they’re now free to comment on President Trump’s mental health if they wish. That’s a crack in the profession’s support for the Goldwater Rule — which prohibits members from publicly analyzing politicians — that was officially imposed by the American Psychiatric Association but adopted as an industry standard for decades. In recent months, many have criticized the gag rule as unethical, even dangerous, as more medical professionals draw conclusions from Trump’s public persona about his mental state.
More like hand-me-don’t. Baby boomers are increasingly finding that their children aren’t interested in the prized possessions that have stocked their own shelves, cupboards or drawers for decades. Instead, the younger, tech-centered generation is looking to live with less stuff. Case in point: Recent literature promoting minimalism and focused on living with less accumulated junk has grown in popularity. While some parents lament their children’s apparent lack of sentimentality for family knick-knacks, many are finding that downsizing and decluttering comes with benefits.
It’s another serious shock. A new study examining the donated brains of former football players at all levels has diagnosed Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in nearly 90 percent, reinforcing longstanding concerns about the sport’s potential dangers. While the debilitating neurodegenerative disease was found in 177 out of 202 total brains investigated, only one of the 111 former NFL players’ brains showed no signs of CTE. Currently, the only scientifically accepted diagnosis comes from postmortem examination, but the study’s findings nevertheless indicate a greater need for CTE prevention.
It’s quite the find. The morbid rocker rediscovered an Andy Warhol silk screen print potentially worth millions … rolled up in a tube in a storage space. The unsigned artwork, “Little Electric Chair” — which ended up stashed alongside Cooper’s prop electric chair — was purchased from Warhol for $2,500 in 1972. In 2015, another print from the series was sold for $11.6 million. When asked how someone could forget about such a valuable possession, Cooper’s longtime manager Shep Gordon explained: “It was a rock and roll time.”
It’s all about supply and demand. With a record 5 million pay-per-view buys in sight for the upcoming crossover fight between UFC’s Conor McGregor and boxing champ Floyd Mayweather Jr., promoters are realizing that with the right personalities, cross-combat matchups are an unexplored and potentially lucrative option. With MMA fighters looking to move from five- or six-figure paychecks to the astronomical realms of the millions offered in boxing’s mega-fights, the McGregor-Mayweather bout could shape the future of combat sports.