That was quick. Just 10 days after his appointment, Anthony Scaramucci is gone from his post as White House Communications Director. The fast-talking Wall Street financier’s dismissal came just hours after former Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly was sworn in as White House Chief of Staff. Kelly, a retired Marine general, is known for demanding discipline from his subordinates and is charged with reigning in Trump’s dysfunctional administration. Scaramucci may have been his first victim: several outlets report his removal came at Kelly’s request.
The Presidential Daily Brief
He’s calling it a “vote for the revolution.” But President Nicolas Maduro’s foes are contesting yesterday’s election, saying 88 percent of the electorate abstained — though Maduro’s camp says 41.5 percent voted. It was a deeply contentious move, widely seen as bypassing the opposition-controlled National Assembly by creating a new National Constituent Assembly that can rewrite the constitution, and at least 10 people died during protests yesterday. Amid reports of voter intimidation, the opposition has called for new protests today. Meanwhile, the United States slapped financial sanctions against Maduro over the vote.
He’s biting back. Last week Congress approved new sanctions over Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and 2016 election meddling. In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin says that by Sept. 1, only 455 of 1,210 employees of U.S. diplomatic missions may remain in his country, in addition to the seizing of a diplomatic warehouse and vacation property. He’d hoped the two nations’ relationship would “somehow change,” and says he wants to avoid further punishments on both sides. It’s unclear how the new rules will affect American citizens’ jobs, as many mission employees are Russian.
They’re hoping to talk tax, not attacks. President Donald Trump has been excoriating his party for failing to pass health care legislation last week, railing that Republicans shouldn’t “give up” on their seven-year promise to repeal Obamacare. But party leaders seem eager to move forward, with House Speaker Paul Ryan calling tax reform “absolutely critical for strong economic growth.” And voters apparently agree, with 64 percent, up from 54 percent in January, saying they want to keep the 44th president’s health scheme as is or simply fix its “problem areas.”
Nobody wants to come out on top. The ride-hailing giant, valued at $70 billion, has been leaderless since founder Travis Kalanick resigned last month amid a series of personal and corporate difficulties. While some conjectured that he’d be replaced by HP leader Meg Whitman, she’s since tweeted that she won’t be taking the job, and media mogul Arianna Huffington’s also demurred. Some board members are reportedly jockeying to put Kalanick back in charge, despite his reputation as an enfant terrible, adding uncertainty as a September deadline to name a new chief looms.
Know This: Civilians are being evacuated from the area near the Iraqi Embassy in Kabul, where attackers are battling police. Republicans are hoping the president’s new chief of staff, John Kelly, can assert control over a chaotic White House. And President Trump is once again hoping that China can rein in North Korea’s provocative missile tests.
Read This: There’s more to the hijacking of oil tanker Brilliante Virtuoso — boarded by supposed pirates in 2011 — than anyone thought, as criminal investigations and lawsuits still swirl.
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.
They aren’t ready for their close-up. Across Europe, an anti-immigrant, ultranationalist movement called Generation Identity is trying to make intolerance cool again. Through the savvy use of social media, the groups aim to boost the far right’s appeal. They’re bringing film teams to demonstrations to make their presence seem a lot bigger than reality, according to anti-fascist campaigners, and some estimate that there are only 400 Identitarians in all of Germany. But at a recent widely-promoted event in Berlin, 600 showed up, raising the question: How many will march next time?
They made it so. Before Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, other entrepreneurs with big dreams of outer space blazed a trail into the beyond. Among them were James Lick, a 19th-century real estate baron-turned-observatory financier, and Robert Goddard, who built the world’s first liquid-fuel rocket. They’re evidence that extra-terrestrial exploration has long been driven by private citizens, not just massive government agencies like NASA. Their fundraising prowess — and scientific success — offer hope that people like Musk can help get mankind … out there.
Forget what you thought you knew. In the arch-conservative south Asian country, Khawaja Sira have been accepted, even revered, as a third gender with spiritual powers over others, mentored by gurus within a social category of their own. But as a few modern trans pioneers are coming out, their non-spiritual approach has chafed with the Khawaja Sira. Many reject the transgender movement, saying it threatens their ancient tradition. Nor does the widespread cultural acceptance of a third gender mean their lives are easy — or that Pakistan will soon embrace transgender rights.
Access denied. Russia is the latest country to ban VPNs — the virtual private networks that can bypass censors and avoid surveillance — after President Vladimir Putin signed a new law. Covering any technology permitting anonymous access, the new statute goes into effect Nov. 1. It’s not censorship, the Kremlin says, but simply a curb on banned websites. But that can include political dissent, so the legislation sparked protests last week. This is all happening just as tech giant Apple’s beginning to remove VPNs from its Chinese app store to comply with similar restrictions.
He’s looking for a fight. Just moments after Jon Jones knocked out Daniel Cormier, the newly minted UFC light heavyweight champion signaled his next opponent would be in for what some are calling a “superfight.” Jones called out Brock Lesnar, the 40-year-old pro wrestling superstar and former UFC heavyweight champion whose fights have attracted more than one million pay-per-view buys, but who has also been suspended for doping. Citing Conor McGregor’s cross-combat boxing match as a direct inspiration, Jones makes no bones that he’s following the money.