“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
President Trump has called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate the source of an explosive New York Times op-ed allegedly written by an anonymous White House insider. “I don’t want him in meetings” on sensitive national security issues, Trump told reporters. The Justice Department hasn’t said if it’ll conduct the investigation. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Vice President Mike Pence have all disowned the essay, which casts Trump as dangerous and unfit for the presidency.
Boasting a steady unemployment rate of 3.9 percent, the U.S. economy is enjoying an uninterrupted 95-month job growth streak, the longest on record. But there are signs of a slowdown: In addition to sluggish wage growth, unemployment fell just shy of last month’s 3.8 percent target. Still, the results will likely encourage the Federal Reserve to continue raising interest rates from historic lows — even if that won’t please President Donald Trump, who criticized the Fed in July over its rate hikes.
Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro — who’s leading the polls ahead of next month’s election — is recovering after being stabbed in the stomach at a campaign rally Thursday in Juiz de Fora. Doctors say he’s in serious but stable condition despite being delivered to the hospital “almost dead,” according to his son. Bolsonaro, a controversial populist often called the “Brazilian Trump,” has angered critics with homophobic comments and is under investigation for hate speech. Police have arrested a suspect, who was reportedly beaten by Bolsonaro’s supporters after the attack.
Jim Jeffrey, Secretary of State Pompeo’s new adviser on Syria, has warned that Damascus is readying chemical weapons for an upcoming offensive on the northwestern province of Idlib, the country’s last major rebel stronghold. “I am very sure that we have very, very good grounds to be making these warnings,” Jeffrey told reporters. Syrian allies Russia and Iran are meeting today in Tehran with Turkey, which supports the rebels, to discuss Idlib’s fate. Jeffrey, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey, added that American forces will remain in Syria until ISIS is eradicated.
Saying the controversial host had repeatedly violated its abusive behavior policy, the platform has made its temporary suspension of Jones and his Infowars show permanent. The offending content was footage Jones posted showing him disparaging a CNN reporter during congressional hearings on social media. Jones also reportedly harassed Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey at the hearings. Twitter joins Apple, Facebook and YouTube, which blocked the conspiracy theorist a month ago over policy violations. It has previously banned other right-wing commentators, such as Milo Yiannopoulos, fueling allegations of anti-conservative bias.
Know This: Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh declined to criticize or praise President Trump during his second day of Senate testimony. Mexican investigators have discovered a mass grave — one of the violence-ridden country’s largest — containing 166 human skulls. The death toll in northern Japan’s recent earthquake has risen to 18. And today, OZY’s Around the World campaign returns to Kyrgyzstan, where the world’s second-largest mountain lake begs a visit.
Try This: Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB Quiz.
Watch This: Tune in tonight to PBS for Breaking Big, OZY’s latest TV show exploring the secret sauce behind successful people. Host Carlos Watson sits down with fashion designer and Project Runway winner Christian Siriano to find out how he broke through, and broke big.
Yesterday authorities raided the New Jersey home of Kate McClure and Mark D’Amico after the couple allegedly withheld $325,000 of the more than $400,000 they’d raised for Johnny Bobbitt. The homeless man had reportedly given McClure his last $20 when her car ran out of gas in Philadelphia last year, inspiring the couple to launch a GoFundMe campaign for him. But Bobbitt claims he hasn’t seen most of the funds, and his lawyer says the cash is gone. GoFundMe has pledged that Bobbitt will receive the full $400,000 raised.
Chief Financial Officer Marty Chavez denied reports that the renowned investment bank was dropping its plans to launch a trading desk for cryptocurrencies, calling the rumors “fake news.” Citing demand from clients, Chavez said yesterday that Goldman is working on a bitcoin derivative called “non-deliverable forwards” — though he added there’s no specific timeline for the initiative. Cryptocurrency prices tumbled earlier this week on news the bank was abandoning its effort, and bitcoin’s ongoing volatility has proven to be a significant obstacle for major institutional investors.
Better late than never? Decades after her supervisor won the 1974 Nobel Prize for their collaborative work on spinning neutron stars called pulsars, British astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell has been awarded the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. As a Cambridge graduate student in 1967 she was the first to notice pulsars’ mysterious radio waves — one of the most consequential astronomical discoveries of the 20th century. Now an Oxford professor, Bell Burnell is donating the prize to the U.K.’s Institute of Physics to fund scholarships for under-represented students.
The Smokey and the Bandit and Deliverance star, who died yesterday from cardiac arrest, was a top box office draw in the late 1970s. Despite his popular appeal, Reynolds wasn’t a critical success, earning just one Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe for 1997’s Boogie Nights, plus one Emmy for TV comedy Evening Shade. He famously turned down big roles — including Han Solo in Star Wars and John McClane in Die Hard — but later said, “Nobody had more fun than I did.” Reynolds is survived by his adopted son, Quinton.
“I’m just beginning.” That’s what the 36-year-old tennis star said yesterday after beating Latvian Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 6-0 for a ticket to her ninth U.S. Open final. Williams, who missed last year’s tournament after giving birth to her daughter Olympia, will face off against 20-year-old Naomi Osaka of Japan. If she wins on Saturday, Williams will take home her 24th major singles trophy — tying tennis legend Margaret Court’s record — and become the oldest woman to win a singles major title.