The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Trump Calls Russia Sanctions Bill He Signed ‘Unconstitutional’

    His hands were tied. President Donald Trump says he signed Congressional sanctions on Russia into law “for the sake of national unity,” though he called the bill “unconstitutional” and clearly opposes clauses preventing the White House from easing Moscow’s punishment. In a statement, he taunted the GOP for failing to pass health care legislation, characterizing himself as a better foreign policy dealmaker. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called the measures — opposed by U.S. energy interests and the EU — a “full-scale trade war” that demonstrates the American president’s “complete impotence.”

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    White House Plans to Slash Legal Immigration by Half

    Deep breaths, huddled masses. After fighting to reduce illegal immigration, the White House has endorsed a plan to cut legal immigration as well, largely by restricting sponsorships of family members of U.S. citizens and legal residents. The proposed rules would give preferential treatment to English-speakers and those with financial resources, and set a 50,000 annual cap on granting permanent residency to refugees. White House adviser Stephen Miller defended the proposal by explaining that the lines printed on the Statue of Liberty — “Give me your tired, your poor” — were “added later.”

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    Brazil’s President Spared Supreme Court Prosecution

    It was hardly a glowing endorsement. A marathon session in Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies ended with the lawmakers voting overwhelmingly to spare embattled President Michel Temer a corruption trial. The debate saw the President’s supporters argue against the potential turmoil a third change of power in less than two years could bring, while those in favor of trying him argued that anything else would deepen perceptions of executive impunity. A relieved Temer, whose approval rating hit 5 percent last month, is now expected to embark on economic reforms for Brazil’s recession-plagued economy.

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    Scientists Safely Edit Embryos in Major Breakthrough

    Are they playing god? For the first time, researchers have successfully modified human embryos to fix disease-causing genetic mutations. Findings published in Nature describe a team of scientists from the U.S., South Korea and China collaborating on the potentially life-saving technology, which could one day edit out dangerous hereditary conditions. But clinical trials involving humans are still a long way off, and the discovery could also renew the ethical debate over creating “designer babies.” For now, scientists are focusing on making the procedure as safe as possible.

  5. Voting Irregularities, Travel Bans and Empty Bus Seats

    Know This: The firm responsible for the voting system in Venezuela’s recent election says turnout numbers have been inflated, but the government’s rejected the allegations. The U.S. has banned travel to North Korea as of Sept. 1 and says all Americans in the country should leave. And a Norwegian anti-immigrant group mistook a photo of empty bus seats for women in burkas, calling them “tragic” and “disgusting.”

    Read This: A battle is raging in Bangalore — India’s Silicon Valley — over water rights, as drought grips the region.

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    NASA Sees Hype Over Quest for ‘Planetary Protection Officer’

    Independence Day it’s not. The person who lands NASA’s new six-figure job will instead be supervising sterilization of spacecraft — and thus protecting other worlds from stowaway terrestrial microbes, and vice versa. Such a mistake could mean we find life elsewhere in the solar system only to realize on some later date that it originated on Earth, something that can be avoided by proper anti-contamination procedures. NASA’s nonetheless reportedly been fielding calls since the ad went up asking about alien invasions, and viral headlines to that effect.

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    Offshoring in South Africa Threatens Crisis

    The money’s making a run for it. Amid an international decline in commodity prices and perennial cronyism and corruption, trust in South Africa’s government and economy is running low, with investor confidence at 29 percent. In response, financial advisers say the wealthy are getting as much of their money out of the country as possible. But there’s concern that the poorest will pay the price for this monetary exodus, as increasing inflation, mounting unemployment — already at 27 percent — and declining tax revenue take their toll on the nation’s solvency.

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    Second Hyperloop Test Was Actually Fast

    All aboard the hype train. Hyperloop One, the startup leading the charge to fulfill Elon Musk’s vision of jet speed inter-city travel, claimed a successful demo pod trial at its Las Vegas proving track, hitting 192 mph in about five seconds. Using a near-vacuum tube and magnetic levitation tech, it was the fastest run yet. While it was short of recent 250 mph expectations, Musk’s pioneering public transportation developers say the speed met their second phase development goals, providing a solid proof of concept for investors.

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    James Comey Inks Book Deal

    Will it be a tell-all? The FBI director famously fired by President Trump has signed with Flatiron Books for a written treatment of his “long and distinguished career.” Comey’s meticulous note-taking probably bodes well for the book — due next spring — even if he doesn’t divulge any classified or explosive information. His publisher dryly promises “yet-unheard anecdotes” and an exploration of ”what good, ethical leadership looks like.” But the mere hint that it’ll illuminate his ground-shaking dismissal and his agency’s Russia ruminations promise to make it a bestseller.

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    In Record Deal, Neymar Goes to Paris

    It’s seismic: Paris Saint-Germain has triggered the $262 million release clause of Brazilian soccer superstar Neymar, freeing him to leave FC Barcelona and play at Parc des Princes instead. That deal’s more than double the previous record — Manchester United paid Juventus $124 million for Paul Pogba last year. And that’s just the release fee. With Neymar’s five-year contract, the French team’s outlay will hit some $600 million. It’ll also leave Barça the cash to replace the superstar — possibly stirring a tsunami of lavish transfers.