The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Missing British Boy Now Among Barcelona Dead

    It’s a tragic confirmation. Julian Cadman’s family had frantically searched for the British 7-year-old in the wake of Thursday’s ISIS-claimed van attack on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas landmark. Today Catalan police said he was among two assault’s 14 fatalities. One person was killed that in nearby Cambrils, and while police fatally shot five alleged jihadists there, preventing further casualties, they’re still searching for the Barcelona driver. A local police chief speculated that he could have crossed into nearby France, even if checkpoints are operating on the normally open border.

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    Racism Foes Protest Nationwide, Gaining Trump’s Praise 

    What a difference a day makes. Tens of thousands of demonstrators hit America’s streets Saturday, blasting resurgent white supremacism, its deadly effects a week earlier in Charlottesville, Virginia, and its apparent presidential acceptance. Some 40,000 descended upon a right-wing “free speech” rally in Boston, which quickly disbanded. Surprisingly, President Donald Trump didn’t mind, tweeting “to applaud … speaking out against bigotry and hate.” Coming a day after the departure of presidential strategist and reputed white nationalist ally Stephen Bannon, the about-face might signal a philosophical shift — but there’s always tomorrow.

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    Bannon Leaves White House Vowing ‘War’ on Enemies

    He’s locked and unloaded. Stephen Bannon, the controversial architect of President Trump’s election victory, was fired from his post as chief presidential strategist Friday. Widely excoriated as an ally of white nationalists, he’s the latest of a string of fallen administration heavyweights, and he’s reportedly vowing to go “thermonuclear” on his White House “globalist” enemies. Bannon said he’d fight for the original agenda of Trump’s presidency, which he lamented was effectively “over.” Set to resume running his influential Breitbart News, he warned, “I’ve got my hands back on my weapons.”

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    A Nation Unites Against White Supremacy

    “We cannot allow this old evil to be resurrected.” Sen. Marco Rubio’s comment echoed the reactions of many across the political spectrum to the tragic events of Aug. 12. Most joined in condemning President Trump’s insistence that “both sides” were to blame for deadly violence triggered by white supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia. From basketball stars to Republican stalwarts like 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who posted on Facebook Friday that the president should apologize after causing “racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn.”

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    Glasses to Donuts, the Total Eclipse Is Nigh

    They’re moving toward the dark. On Monday, Americans will experience their first coast-to-coast solar eclipse since 1918, with the moon blotting out the sun from from Oregon to South Carolina. Anyone not on the “path of totality” will see a partial eclipse, or hopefully a shadow of it if not equipped with regulator-approved, ultra-dark sunglasses. Businesses are stepping up, selling everything from Eclipse Ale and “moon puppies” cannabis to Krispy Kreme’s first chocolate glazed donut, while electric utilities plan to record what happens when solar supplies are suddenly disrupted.

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    Trump’s Rhetorical Beachfront in Venezuela

    Yanqui, stay home. Venezuelans seemed helpless against President Nicolás Maduro’s attacks on democratic institutions when 12 neighboring leaders condemned his “rupture of democratic order.” As that window opened, President Trump closed it, hinting at military intervention — something experts said would backfire. It already has: Maduro’s now able to rally supporters with the specter of an American invasion, and all of its historical baggage. And those same countries trying to counter Venezuela’s democratic breakdown are telling U.S. officials that such drastic, reckless measures are more likely to empower Maduro, making silencio America’s most effective option.

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    Working in the Margins of White Impunity

    Keep your friends close. Under President Trump, race relations have become more strained by the day — an escalation that’s harder to ignore for working class people of color who live in the deep red heartland of Trump’s white America. In these variegated communities — particularly in the Deep South — new tales of confrontation, hostility and contempt are leaking out. From Black workers facing “jokes” about re-enslavement, to undocumented employees worried about the next ICE crackdown, marginalized individuals are struggling to co-exist with those who voted for the new order.

  8. Korean Exercises, USS Indianapolis Discovery and New Iraqi Offensive

    The Week Ahead: U.S. and South Korean forces will begin a military exercise on Monday that North Korea is calling a provocation. Also tomorrow, Defense Secretary James Mattis is to begin a four-day trip to Jordan, Turkey and Ukraine to reaffirm America’s “strategic partnerships,” including helping Ankara subdue Kurdish separatists — a sensitive issue as American forces support Kurds fighting ISIS across Turkey’s southern borders. And on Friday, former Volkswagen engineer James Liang will be sentenced in Detroit for his role in misleading emissions regulators. 

    Know This: A research team in the Pacific Ocean led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has found the World War II wreck of the torpedoed USS Indianapolis, most of whose 800 survivors died awaiting rescue for five days in shark-infested waters. Iraqi forces have begun an assault on Tal Afar, one of ISIS’s last strongholds in the country. And the same terror group has claimed responsibility for a stabbing attack that wounded as many as eight people in Siberia before police killed the assailant.

    Join us LIVE: OZY and WGBH are bringing you a terrific new TV show, Third Rail With OZY — premiering Friday, Sept. 8 at 8:30 p.m. on PBS and we want YOU to be part of our live studio audience! Sign up here to attend a taping of this hot new primetime show. You won’t want to miss it.


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    Silly Comic Genius Jerry Lewis Dies at 91

    He was seriously ridiculous. Jerry Lewis, who inspired a generation of comics, including Woody Allen and Robin Williams, died today at home in Las Vegas at age 91. The New Jersey son of entertainers grew up as Joey Levitch, in 1945 meeting Dean Martin, with whom he created a hit silly/suave stage, then film act. After they split, Lewis’ produced unforgettable, if derided cinematic characters like The Nutty Professor, and he later raised millions with his muscular dystrophy telethons. He was “an undeniable genius,” tweeted fellow funnyman Jim Carrey. “I am because he was.”

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    Civil Rights-Marching Comic Dick Gregory Dies at 84

    “I don’t eat colored people.” That was the punchline the impoverished young Black comedian delivered to a 1961 audience of white Southerners at Chicago’s Playboy Club, after recounting a waitress’ refusal to “serve” him. He’d have the chicken instead. After that breakthrough night, Dick Gregory, who died of unreported causes Saturday in Washington, D.C., marched against segregation, tried to calm riots, fasted for the release of U.S. hostages in Iran, and in later years, dispensed nutritional advice. The Rev. Jesse Jackson tweeted that his longtime friend “taught us how to live.”

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    Will the Resomator Liquefy Your Corpse?

    We are but dust and shadow. Poetic, but Horace didn’t consider the sugar, salt, peptides and amino acids that make up our bodies — and make them murder to recycle. Enter the pioneers of alkaline hydrolysis, which dissolves the body into liquid and brittle bone, predicting that the process will supplant common cremation and embalming, which pollute and disturb grieving relatives. While the aesthetics get debated, hydrolysis machines like the Resomator are starting to impress even traditional mortuary partisans, and with approval from 14 U.S. states, you just might end up circling the drain.

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    The Man Who Tended Bannon’s Breitbart Bonfire

    He traded firebrands for tiki torches. Demanding a return to a mythical self-reliant America, Breitbart News exploded onto the alternative media scene in recent years to dominate the right-wing narrative, helping elect Donald Trump. Yet after its ideologues left to join the government, the site’s unassuming and fairly mainstream conservative editor, Alexander Marlow, slowly guided the outlet back from the extremes. This year, Breitbart backed away from the far-right’s most incendiary rhetoric, but now, with spurned Trump adviser Stephen Bannon back in charge, that fire promises to rage like never before.

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    Eastern Europe’s Newest Tech Hub Is Where?

    It’s a startup nation, so why not? Despite hardships like corruption and a separatist war, Ukraine’s growing into a bustling IT hub. The country of 45 million is a leading exporter of custom tech services, thanks to solid schooling that’s helped nurture some 100,000 experts in the field. Its growing startup scene has also produced serious companies such as Petcube and Grammarly. But if the tech boom is to fully mature, entrepreneurs will need to innovate their way past infrastructure and regulatory obstacles that make Ukraine Europe’s second hardest place to do business.

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    How NPR Got Its Groove Hack

    It was crazy enough. In a noisy bar in 2008, NPR Music host Bob Boilen thought the folksinger he struggled to hear would sound better playing in his office — and the Tiny Desk Concerts series was born. After 650 performances, it’s become the web’s music mecca, an incubator for promising talent and a destination for big names like Adele and T-Pain, who delivered a soulful, Auto-Tune-free 2014 performance for some 10 million viewers. Now unlikely venue gigs are proliferating, with young content mavens looking to the wizened network for inspiration.

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    Equestrian Hordes Return to Kazakhstan’s Steppes

    It’s not quite cricket: Two teams on horseback thunder over the length of two football fields, battling for a headless, freshly killed goat. It’s called kokpar, or “goat-grabbing,” and Kazakhstan is hoping the ancient competition can help reinforce the country’s national identity. Kazakhs are promoting the rough-and-tumble pastime, which arrived in the 13th century with marauding Mongol invaders, to help cobble together an ethno-historical narrative after decades of culture-extinguishing Soviet rule. Even as its oil revenue buys a modicum of modernization, the country’s recapturing its nomadic, blood-soaked past.