The Trump administration has announced it’s slapping fresh economic sanctions on Moscow in retaliation to what it says was Russia’s assassination attempt in March on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter on British soil. The move could help bolster claims by President Donald Trump — who has blasted special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether his campaign colluded with the Kremlin — that he’s still tough on Russia. The sanctions, which target trade with Russia, are expected to take effect later this month.
The Presidential Daily Brief
With all precincts reporting, Republican Troy Balderson holds a razor-thin lead over Democrat Danny O’Connor in the special election in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, held by the GOP since 1983. The race is seen as a bellwether for midterms, and President Donald Trump tweeted congratulations to Balderson. But media outlets haven’t called the contest, as at least 3,367 provisional ballots remain uncounted. The two candidates will face off again in November, as the special ballot to replace ex-Rep. Pat Tiberi, who resigned, only covers the remainder of his term.
Many investors were skeptical that Elon Musk was serious yesterday when he tweeted “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” But later in the day, he emailed more details to employees, arguing that disconnecting from Wall Street would facilitate better operations but offering no specifics about the when or how of the potential largest leveraged buyout in history. Stocks jumped 11 percent at the news. While the move would reduce pressure on Musk, argues OZY’s Molly Fosco, “it probably wouldn’t produce a wholesale personality change.”
In June, Argentina’s deputies passed a bill that would decriminalize abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, and today the country’s Senate will hold its own vote on the matter. Currently an estimated half a million illegal abortions are performed in Argentina every year, and it’s the top cause of maternal mortality. The powerful Catholic Church has opposed the bill, but an estimated million women are expected to demonstrate outside congress today in support of it. Passage would make Argentina the largest country in Latin America to legalize the procedure.
Despite worries from American companies and complaints from abroad, the U.S. Trade Representative announced details Tuesday on new 25 percent tariffs affecting about $16 billion in Chinese goods starting August 23. Despite U.S. efforts, China’s trade surplus remains near record levels. Beijing’s promised tit-for-tat retaliation, as it did last month when the U.S. levied tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese products. The next escalation is due in September, after American trade officials consider comments for and against proposed duties on as much as $200 billion more in imports.
Know This: Twitter says it’s not suspending conspiracy theorist Alex Jones — recently booted from Facebook and Apple’s platforms — and that it won’t “succumb” to “outside pressure.” The entire Australian state of New South Wales is now officially in a drought. An ex-police chief in Venezuela has said he orchestrated the drone attack on President Nicolas Maduro. And today OZY’s Around the World campaign takes you to Jamaica: Find out about the subversive children’s TV presenter who became the voice of a generation.
Remember This Number: 28,000. That’s how many care workers the U.K. Department of Health thinks it could be short within five years of Brexit — a drought that it warns could see women disproportionately pulled out of the work force to care for relatives.
Talk to Us: Tell us how you really feel. Our electrifying TV show, Third Rail With OZY, is shelving the PC and whipping up debates. Each week we’re posting a provocative question, and we want you to weigh in. This week: Should everyone be required to be an organ donor? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts, and we might feature your answer next week.
They’re taking out the trash. The Ocean Cleanup Project, run by 24-year-old college dropout Boyan Slat, means to attack the plastic waste island floating in the Pacific that’s twice the size of Texas. The group’s built a 2,000-foot trap of floating pipes and nets to skim the flotsam for transport to shore. Some experts are skeptical, arguing that cleaning is futile unless tons of plastic stop entering the oceans daily. The project launches Sept. 8, with a plan to have 60 identical systems running by 2020.
The Jamaican capital is fighting a reputation for crime in a bid to lure tourists beyond cloistered resorts, where most of the country’s 4 million-plus annual visitors and billions of tourism dollars are confined. But entrepreneurs are organizing tours in Kingston — awash in culture anchored by reggae and jerk cuisine — to show them something other than pristine beaches. Crumbling infrastructure still feeds foreigners’ insecurities, but with tourist arrivals to the city up 11 percent in five years, there’s hope that legions of visitors will pour through the breach.
A 48-year-old German woman and her 39-year-old partner were sentenced to at least 12 years in prison yesterday for selling the woman’s son to pedophiles on the darknet. Investigators claimed the couple, operating near the southwestern city of Freiburg, allowed both local and foreign men to sexually assault the boy over a two-year period ending in September 2017, profiting further from videos of the abuse. Six others have been arrested as part of what authorities say was a broader pedophilia ring, sparking debate over authorities’ failure to protect the victim.
Citing values that conflict with their community’s, West Hollywood city council members unanimously passed a resolution requesting that President Trump’s star be removed from the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. The star, installed in 2007, was destroyed by pickax both in 2016 and just last month, with the first alleged perpetrator bailing out the latest suspected vandal from jail. Now it’ll be up to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which opted to keep Bill Cosby’s star in 2015 after a similar resolution, to decide the marker’s fate.
Researchers from the University of Buffalo have published a study arguing that the traumatic brain damage that’s rocked football is less prevalent in players than assumed. Studying 21 retired athletes from their hometown Bills NFL franchise and Sabres hockey team, they found no signs of dementia — whose early onset is a key indicator of CTE, which can only be diagnosed after a patient’s death. Acknowledging the study’s small sample size, the researchers say they’re still confident in their conclusion, while one colleague said studies on live subjects “are exactly what we really need.”