“If we don’t step up, things can get worse.” That’s what the former president told party faithful in the congressional battleground of Orange County, California, Saturday. Despite a tradition of ex-presidents not criticizing those who follow them, Barack Obama leapt back into U.S. politics this weekend calling out President Trump by name and imploring young people to vote, saying the Republican Party has turned a “radical” corner. Trump paid Obama the compliment of claiming he’d watched his predecessor’s Friday speech in Illinois, but provided his lowest critique: “I fell asleep.”
The Presidential Daily Brief
Her spotlight was smashed. When 20-year-old Naomi Osaka should have been celebrating Japan’s first major Open Era title, 6-2, 6-4, Saturday against superstar Serena Williams, she cried and covered her face at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York. Williams accused Carlos Ramos, the U.S. Open’s final’s umpire, of sexism for docking her a game-losing point for calling him a “thief” — along with two other code violations. Men have done worse, she said, and not suffered such sanctions, winning support from fellow players and tennis fans alike.
After the New York Times published an anonymous op-ed Wednesday describing efforts to thwart the commander in chief’s worst impulses, President Donald Trump demanded the author be identified and urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate. Even Vice President Mike Pence — fingered in an analysis of the piece’s composition — joined top officials in disowning the column. Meanwhile, Trump on Friday tweeted that Watergate reporter Bob Woodward’s deeply sourced new book, Fear: Trump in the White House, is a “scam” with quotes that are “made up,” as more opponents call for the president’s removal.
Is he charmed? President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee seems destined for confirmation by a Republican-controlled Senate. Opponents, including Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, who risked expulsion to release documents about Kavanaugh, warn he’ll help overturn legalized abortion and enable other rulings a majority of Americans oppose. Watergate figure John Dean testified Friday that Kavanaugh’s appointment would create “the most pro-presidential powers Supreme Court in the modern era” at a time when such power is already unprecedented — and the current chief executive is being investigated for possibly abusing that authority.
It was OK when the U.S. was the friendly global financial gatekeeper. But now Washington is enforcing sanctions on Iran that Europe never asked for, sparking serious discussion of creating a new financial system not dominated by the almighty dollar. Top officials have even suggested that Europe, like rogue states, might try to conduct business with an eye toward evading sanctions. As one former U.S. Treasury official observed, “We may be at a point where our closest allies are working against us.”
The Week Ahead: Today Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro will face off in tennis’ U.S. Open men’s final in New York. On Tuesday, Americans will mark the 17th anniversary of 9/11. And Apple will launch a new slate of products on Wednesday.
Know This: Attorneys for President Trump have essentially voided an agreement prohibiting porn star Stormy Daniels from speaking about an alleged 2016 sexual encounter with Trump, while his ex-attorney, Michael Cohen, wants his hush money back. Tropical Storm Florence is expected to become “a dangerous major hurricane” before coming close to the southwestern U.S. East Coast late this week. And Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has said voting for the country’s surging nationalist party in today’s parliamentary elections would be “dangerous.”
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Teachers who staged massive spring walkouts in Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arizona aren’t done trying to school state officials. Many are candidates for seats in legislatures that ignored their pleas to reverse decades of funding cuts. They’re not all Democrats, either: One math teacher tallied more votes than the Bluegrass State House majority leader in the Republican primary, while two dozen won Oklahoma primaries. Big-money private school advocates quashed an Arizona referendum to fund public education with taxes on the wealthy, but another measure blocking private school voucher expansion remains on November’s ballot.
Silicon Valley may be due for a reckoning. European lawmakers have taken on tech giants for years, issuing billions of dollars in fines for anticompetitive bundling and imposing strict privacy policies and sanctions for alleged corporate irresponsibility. American watchdogs are trying to catch up, going after the likes of Google, Amazon, Uber and Facebook. Antitrust activists have updated the usual argument that market domination hurts consumers with the idea that it also distorts markets — a sentiment gaining a toehold with a Federal Trade Commission member appointed by President Trump.
In 1796, Edward Jenner injected a milkmaid’s pus into a boy’s arm and made the discovery that eventually eliminated smallpox. Researchers have since learned the modern vaccine differs from Jenner’s original — and that could be problematic, especially if the disease, eradicated in 1980, were to resurface through terrorism or another route. Between 30 and 88 percent of people exposed to the virus can become infected, and a third who contract the disease would die. Scientists are trying to update the inoculation, using century-old vaccine samples from labs and even museums.
Dedicating his life to performing the epic of “a hero who fought for justice and honesty,” Rysbai Isakov is a living monument in Kyrgyzstan. He teaches his countrymen the epic of Manas, which stretches back to “the time of the dinosaurs.” A founding father much like King Arthur is for Britons, Manas and his mythical nature help explain why “Manaschi” like Rysbai rely heavily on dreams. They come suddenly, even onstage, where he remembers waking while narrating. It’s a burden, he says, but “any one Manaschi is given only the load that he can carry.”
As it begins its 99th season, America’s Game may have reached its nadir. Anthem protests, President Trump’s ire, the league’s vulgar obsession with monetization and disturbing evidence of players developing degenerative brain disease are all conspiring to damage pro football’s reputation. But even though ratings dropped 9.7 percent last year, it’s still America’s most popular sport by a 3-1 margin. And with new rules, it’s getting marginally safer. If commissioner Roger Goodell can keep fans — and his league — focused on the game, he might convert this fourth down after all.