Backpedaling from agreeing with Russian President Vladimir Putin that the Kremlin had no reason to meddle in U.S. elections, President Donald Trump further shocked Washington — including his own national intelligence director — by inviting Putin to the White House. Now Congress is united, the Senate voting 98-0 to object to a proposal — disavowed by Trump — to present a U.S. diplomat for Moscow’s interrogation. In a fresh switch Friday, the White House contradicted Russian sources that said it was considering tolerating a referendum to decide the fate of conflict-torn eastern Ukraine.
The Presidential Daily Brief
If President Trump didn’t have enough heat on him, special counsel Robert Mueller is about to add a few degrees. On Wednesday, jury selection will begin in Alexandria, Virginia, in the bank fraud and tax crime trial of Trump ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Mueller’s office, which brought the charges, released some 400 pieces of evidence a week earlier, including texts between Manafort and Ukraine’s since-deposed pro-Moscow president. Meanwhile, it’s emerged that ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen taped the president talking — just before the 2016 election — about paying for a Playboy model’s silence.
It was a wealthy bastion of Latin American stability in the 1960s, producing more than 10 percent of the world’s oil. Now, the South American country imports petroleum and faces financial ruin. Some 4 million Venezuelans have fled the country as inflation and preventable diseases run rampant. While some point fingers at President Nicolás Maduro’s “delusional” policies, experts trace the decline to the 1990s and the monumental rise of his mentor, Hugo Chávez. In any event, the non-wartime free fall may provide a cautionary case study for future policymakers.
They call it the “prosperity bomb.” The online retail giant has pumped tons of cash into Seattle, but that’s also exacerbated inequality. For City Council member Kshama Sawant, it’s nothing short of class warfare, so she’s pushing for a “head tax” on every Amazon employee. The idea, aimed at funding affordable housing and helping the homeless, has catapulted her onto the national stage. Like the progressive-minded city, the nation is seeing a schism between traditional liberals and those who dare to call themselves socialists, agitated and emboldened by America’s right-wing renaissance.
The Week Ahead: The U.S. Senate is to hold hearings Tuesday on reforms aimed at preventing abuse like that endured by scores of Team USA gymnasts in Michigan. On Wednesday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will visit with President Trump to discuss looming automobile import tariffs. Also on Wednesday, Pakistani elections are scheduled.
Know This: Nine of the 17 passengers killed in the sinking of a storm-tossed amphibious “duck boat” on a Missouri lake Thursday were from the same family, the state’s governor has announced. Israel and Hamas have agreed to a cease-fire after a wave of Gaza airstrikes following an Israeli soldier’s death. And Facebook has suspended a second analytics firm, Crimson Hexagon, for allegedly misusing data.
Get up to Speed: Are you ready to get your mind blown? The OZY PDB Special Briefing will tell you what you need to know about OZY Fest, which unfolds this weekend in New York’s Central Park with music makers like Passion Pit, newsmakers like Hillary Clinton and troublemakers like Chelsea Handler. With carefully curated facts, opinions, images and videos, this latest Special Briefing will catch you up and vault you ahead.
“Who cares?” That’s how Donald Trump responded to concerns that he’d anger Scots with his approach toward developing a championship golf course, which included denigrating wind power and trying to bulldoze an “ugly” neighboring house. Trump envisioned a sprawling coastal resort, and bullied local residents and national politicians who resisted. Meanwhile, many of the economic benefits Trump touted — on which he’s spent only 10 percent of what he promised — haven’t materialized. That’s turned even some of his earlier supporters against the project, leaving precious few in the land of Alba who aren’t teed off.
A new report by the Columbia Journalism Review has documented assault, unwanted advances and other inappropriate behavior in the male-dominated photojournalism industry. The report alleges well-known photographers Antonin Kratochvil and Christian Rodriguez were serial harassers, and that such behavior was tolerated by photo collective VII and the Eddie Adams Workshop. An increasing reliance on freelancers has made accountability more difficult, as aspiring photographers fear reporting their experiences will harm their careers. Agencies are adopting codes of conduct, but victims’ advocates say that rings hollow so long as perpetrators remain in their hierarchies.
While his countrymen drown trying to reach hostile Italian shores, young Tunisian Mohamed Ali Nefzi gets the red carpet. He deplanes to a welcoming committee that takes him to an already decorated apartment. He’s among the 11 percent of geriatric nurses — albeit a glorified orderly before his certification is recognized — working in Germany who come from abroad. Desperately understaffed providers pay $116,000 to prep each recruit, elevating the young nurses but causing a brain drain in their countries of origin, as these immigrants administer a final dose of humanity to their fading patients.
After years of civil war, the capital of Syria resembles an urban prison. The bucolic countryside and weekend getaways are obviated by rebels fighting in the suburbs. So Damascus dwellers are turning to surviving restaurants and cafés for an escape. There’s been a renaissance, of sorts, among the war-weary city’s dining options, including pizzerias to more traditional Levantine fare. In the Old City, 63 establishments have reportedly emerged in the last five years, so as the war grinds on, those lucky enough to get out increasingly have someplace to go.
In 1968, the solo, nonstop, around-the-world Golden Globe Race descended into equal parts drama and triumph, starring both absurd and heroic characters. This year, organizers have attempted to reprise the legendary sail, across nine months and some 30,000 miles, while adhering to the original low-tech conditions, with sailors using sextants instead of GPS. And since there’s no prize money, it’s strictly guts and glory. The problem is, solo sailors — two of whom quickly dropped out — are a breed apart, so expecting them to conform to race rules may be foolhardy.