Is it the end of an era? Stephen Bannon, the controversial architect of President Donald Trump’s victory in last year’s election, is leaving his post as the president’s chief strategist. Multiple reports on Friday said the former chief of Breitbart News was forced out amid mounting pressure and increasing divisions within Trump’s administration, reportedly thanks to Bannon’s aggressive pursuit of a nationalist agenda. His dismissal comes several weeks after former Marine General John Kelly was hired as White House chief of staff to bring order to a chaotic administration.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The driver is still on the loose. Four people have been arrested in conjunction with the ISIS-claimed attack in central Barcelona yesterday that killed 13 people and left more than 100 injured. A van careened down the landmark La Rambla boulevard, targeting pedestrians at high speed. Hours later, Spanish police fatally shot five people while stopping an apparent second attack that killed one person and injured seven others in the resort town of Cambrils, south of Barcelona. Spain’s prime minister has declared three days of national mourning for the victims.
“So foolish!” That’s how President Donald Trump on Thursday described efforts to remove “beautiful” monuments to the Confederacy, just days after deadly violence broke out in Virginia over plans to remove a statue of Southern Gen. Robert E. Lee. Trump’s latest Twitter tirade lamented American culture being “ripped apart” as governors and city officials around the country move to take the landmarks down. Meanwhile, two great-grandsons of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson urged the removal of monuments to their ancestor and other secessionist states’ military leaders, calling them “clearly articulated artwork of white supremacy.”
They’re keeping it out of court. Three plaintiffs — two men who were reportedly brutalized in Afghanistan and the family of a third who died in custody — have reached a confidential settlement with two doctors who they’d alleged were responsible for designing torture techniques used by the CIA. Contractor-psychologists John “Bruce” Jessen and James Mitchell were paid about $81 million for their program, which recommended waterboarding, forcing subjects into small spaces and other torture techniques. They’ve now agreed to a statement acknowledging the abuses without taking responsibility, in what the ACLU’s calling a “historic victory.”
Call it the Trump dump. Thursday saw the S&P 500 drop 1.5 percent — the biggest single-day fall since May — as investors reacted to a White House in crisis and dimmer tax cut chances. A gaggle of CEOs abandoned presidential advisory councils this week, prompting dissolution of three such groups, and there were rumors that National Economic Council chair Gary Cohn was mulling resignation. The effects were felt around the world: Indices in Australia, Japan and Hong Kong also dropped, while Europe’s Stoxx 600 fell 0.9 percent this morning.
Know This: Inmates in Tennessee were offered shortened sentences in exchange for agreeing to be sterilized, in a practice critics are likening to eugenics. Some are questioning Wikileaks’ motives for reportedly refusing to publish a cache of documents about the Russian government during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. And studies of mice show memories of fear could potentially be permanently erased from the brain.
Try This: Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB quiz.
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 whipping up debates. Each Wednesday, we’ll post a provocative question, focusing on topics that might make it onto the show. This week: Should government leaks always be illegal? 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 should know better. A recent study of 372 postpartum nurses found that many lacked knowledge vital to new moms’ survival. In particular, they failed to warn them about symptoms such as heavy bleeding and breathing difficulties that might predict mortal complications. America has the developed world’s highest maternal mortality rate, with up to 900 women dying annually from causes related to pregnancy or childbirth. But experts say nurses can be easily trained to better advise new mothers, using tools such as checklists and scripts to clue them in before it’s too late.
“VC” shouldn’t mean very creepy. State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson has proposed amending California’s civil rights law to include prohibitions on sexual harassment between investors and entrepreneurs. The measure follows allegations by multiple women who say they endured inappropriate sexual advances when seeking funding from two high-profile venture capitalists. To be debated in January, the legislation’s being hailed by activist groups as a step forward for a tech and startup industry plagued with sexism that’s spurred recent soul-searching at scandal-tainted behemoths Uber and Google.
Keep that EpiPen for now. Researchers in Australia claim they have a new way to treat peanut allergies in children, after a clinical trial of just 24 subjects allowed the formerly allergic to eat peanuts years after being treated. Two-thirds of those who took the pill — immunotherapy that combined healthful bacteria and peanuts — could ingest peanut products safely four years later. Only 1 of 24 subjects in a control group showed such improvement. Now researchers will need to replicate that success with a larger group before they can approach regulators for approval.
They were “sickened by the association.” After a video from Charlottesville circulated showing a “self-proclaimed neo-Nazi” wearing a t-shirt bearing his name, the late country musician’s five children have released a joint statement condemning white supremacists as “poison in our society.” They highlighted Johnny Cash’s pacifism and “inclusive patriotism” as his defining characteristics, saying his “heart beat with the rhythm of love and social justice” — suggesting that outrage over re-empowered racism, denounced by a host of living musicians, now cries out from beyond the grave.
He’s leading a different type of drive. Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant has pre-emptively rejected the possibility of visiting President Trump’s White House. Saying “I don’t respect who’s in office,” the 2017 NBA Finals MVP instead commended the activist work of Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and others for taking “the conversation in a good direction.” Though national championship winners are normally invited to the White House, no formal invitation has been extended to the Warriors, who’ll visit D.C. in any case to play the Wizards Feb. 28.