☕ Cover: FBI Building Washington Dc, Washington, United States
Good Morning. Here’s what you need to know to start the day, along with perspective from both sides for calmer coffee conversations with your family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers. Plus, a bit of good news: Random acts of kindness still exist: One 94-year-old street vendor in Santa Ana, Calif. was brought to tears by the generosity of a good Samaritan. See why…
📰 TOP STORY
Groundhog Day: Last Friday, the Senate Judiciary Committee released new documents regarding the FBI’s probe into whether President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russia to rig the election. One set of documents was a Feb. 14, 2017, New York Times article annotated by Peter Strzok, the FBI agent who helped initiate and lead the Russia probe. The other was a 57-page memo of an interview with a source for Christopher Steele, who compiled a controversial research dossier against then-candidate Trump. As both The Daily Wire (right-leaning) and POLITICO (left-leaning) outline, “the new documents reveal that in early 2017, the FBI had ‘little, if any, evidence’ of ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin and already had misgivings about the so-called Steele Dossier.” Here are more snippets from each side:
On the Right: The Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal says the latest release “is beginning to paint a picture, and the more we learn the worse the FBI looks.” For starters, “Former British spy Christopher Steele, whose dirt-digging was financed by the Hillary Clinton campaign, based nearly all of his dossier allegations on information from one unidentified ‘primary subsource.’ The bureau used the dossier’s accusations as the basis for four warrants to surveil Trump aide Carter Page during the 2016 campaign and early months of the Trump Presidency. The 57 pages of notes from the source interviews make clear that the FBI knew the dossier was junk as early as January 2017.” Moreover, “The FBI didn’t corroborate the Steele dossier’s claims prior to its first application to surveil Mr. Page in October 2016, and it didn’t get around to interviewing the source until nearly four months later. When agents finally got around to it, the source made clear that there was no factual basis to the dossier’s claims.” As it relates to The New York Times article published on Feb. 14, 2017 with the headline: “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence,” the Wall Street Journal Ed-Board writes that, “FBI investigator Peter Strzok acknowledges the dossier is a bust, and that the FBI still had no evidence of any wrongdoing… Mr. Strzok wrote an internal FBI analysis highlighting the [NYT] story’s numerous inaccuracies, explaining ‘we are unaware of ANY Trump advisors engaging in conversations with Russian intelligence officials.’ He also acknowledges: ‘Recent interviews’ reveal ‘Steele may not be in a position to judge the reliability of his subsource network.” In conclusion, the WSJ Ed-Board writes that, “Democrats and the press corps that touted the phony Steele dossier will say this is a pursuit of a conspiracy theory, but it’s not a theory. The more evidence that is made public, the clearer it becomes that the Steele dossier and collusion narrative were dirty political tricks that became abuses of power.”
On the Left: Jeremy Herb of CNN writes that, “Neither document provides significant new information about the FBI’s Russia investigation. The issues Steele’s sub-source raises were summarized in last year’s Justice Department inspector general report that detailed numerous problems with foreign surveillance warrants obtained on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, while Strzok’s concerns echo 2017 testimony from former FBI Director James Comey.” Herb notes how Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said last week “he will call special counsel Robert Mueller to testify before his committee as part of his investigation into the FBI’s Russia probe and the special counsel investigation.” CNN’s Herb outlines how recently “Mueller broke his silence and responded to the attacks on his investigation from the White House and congressional Republicans following Trump’s commutation of the sentence of his longtime friend, Roger Stone. Mueller wrote an op-ed defending the investigation and Stone’s conviction, saying ‘the women and men who conducted these investigations and prosecutions acted with the highest integrity. Claims to the contrary are false.'” Herb concludes that, “while the FBI officials took issue with the [NYT] story alleging that Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials, it is true that multiple members of Trump’s team communicated with Russians, including those tied to Russian intelligence. As shown in court filings and the Mueller report, Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort was in contact with Konstantin Kilinmink, a Russian intelligence-linked associate; Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Manafort met with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya and Page met with Russian energy executive Andrey Baranov while in Russia in 2016.”
Flag This: It’s kind of absurd that we’re still talking about the legitimacy of the 2016 election when 2020’s is now only 104 days away. Moreover, some aspects of the upcoming election feel like groundhog day. Take these two headlines for example. The first was published on October 19, 2016 by the New York Times: “Donald Trump Won’t Say if He’ll Accept Result of Election.” The second was published July 19, 2020 (two days ago) by CNBC: “President Trump won’t agree to accept 2020 election results as Biden leads in polls.” The two are almost verbatim. What’s even more ironic is that at the start of this year, Hillary Clinton was the one who just couldn’t quite seem to comprehend the fact that she lost. In an interview with Variety where she was asked if she could beat Trump if she was running in the 2020 race, Clinton said, “Yeah…. because I feel the 2016 election was a really odd time and an odd outcome. And the more we learn, the more that seems to be the case.” If anything, the “more we learn” about the 2016 election the more it appears to be disparaging for Clinton as evidenced by both sides above. If Trump wins another four-years in November, will we see more stories about Russian collusion? It certainly seems like it. Remember, before Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders dropped out of the Democratic race for President, here was the title of a New York Times article published on February 22, 2020: Same Goal, Different Playbook: Why Russia Would Support Trump and Sanders.
🦅 US NEWS
First COVID-19, now mosquitoes: Bracing for bug-borne ills
“As the coronavirus pandemic subsides for now in the hard-hit Northeast, public health officials in the region are warning about another potentially bad summer for eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), a rare but severe mosquito-borne virus that causes brain swelling, and other insect-borne illnesses,” Philip Marcelo reports for the Associated Press. “EEE saw an unexpected resurgence last summer across 10 states: Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Tennessee. There were 38 human cases and 15 deaths from the virus, with many of the cases in Massachusetts and Michigan. Most years, the country sees just half a dozen cases of the virus in humans.”
- Flag This: “A relatively mild winter may have benefited mosquito populations, but below-average rainfall could have also provided a welcome counterweight… Ticks are also expected to be out earlier and in larger numbers this season because of the relatively mild winter. That could mean more cases of debilitating Lyme disease and other tick-related illnesses for local health care systems already feeling the pressure of responding to the coronavirus.” Keep reading.
Winning Streak of Big Cities Fades With 2020 Crises
“During the past quarter-century, many American cities flourished as crime tumbled and educated young workers moved to revitalized downtowns, changing the economic and political landscape of the nation,” Jon Hilsenrath writes for the Wall Street Journal. “Three major shocks now threaten to upend that urban renaissance: The coronavirus is preying on densely packed places; anger over policing is producing social unrest reminiscent of earlier eras; and strained city and state budgets could prolong their economic pain. Extended lockdowns have drained cities of the energy, charm and financial promise that drew so many in the first place, and underlined the weaknesses, inconveniences and risks. With remote technology facilitating work from home for many, some New Yorkers have already decamped to suburbs.”
- Flag This: “Cities aren’t likely to come out of the tumult the same. The road to recovery stands to be difficult and long, and will need to address, among other things, housing affordability and homelessness—problems that had been threatening the urban resurgence even before current crises. The end result could be that growth shifts from big cities toward smaller ones and suburbs.”
🌎 WORLD NEWS
“After four days and nights of wrangling, exhausted European Union leaders finally clinched a deal on an unprecedented 1.8 trillion-euro ($2.1 trillion) budget and coronavirus recovery fund early Tuesday, after one of their longest summits ever,” Raf Casert and Samuel Petrequin write from Brussels. “To confront the biggest recession in its history, the EU will establish a 750 billion-euro coronavirus fund, partly based on common borrowing, to be sent as loans and grants to the hardest-hit countries. That is in addition to the agreement on the seven-year, 1 trillion-euro EU budget that leaders had been haggling over for months even before the pandemic.”
- Flag This: “They committed 30% of their total expenditure from the recovery fund and the next EU budget to address climate concerns,” Silvia Amaro and Christine Wang report for CNBC. “The EU has said it wants to be climate neutral by 2050.”
The UAE successfully Launched the Arab World’s First Mars Mission
“On Sunday, a Japanese-built rocket launched a 1.35-ton probe sponsored by the United Arab Emirates into low-Earth orbit,” Eric Berger reports for Ars Technica. “The spacecraft is now on its way toward Mars, where it is intended to enter orbit around the Red Planet in February, 2021. The ‘Mars Hope’ mission represents a partnership between the Arab country—which seeks to inspire a future generation of scientists and engineers—and several US academic institutions, including the University of Colorado Boulder. The program was managed in the United Arab Emirates, and the spacecraft was built in a laboratory in Colorado.”
- Flag This: “The United States and China are also embarking on Mars missions this summer,” Jessie Yeung reports for CNN. “NASA’s Perseverance Rover and China’s Tianwen 1 are expected to launch sometime between late July and early August, though the exact date will depend on daily launch conditions.”
🗞️ BIZ, SPORTS, & TECH
First human trial of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine shows promise
An experimental coronavirus vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford university was safe and produced an immune response in early-stage clinical trials, data showed on Monday, keeping alive the hope it could be in use by the end of the year. Keep reading.
World Surf League cancels 2020 season due to coronavirus
Add surfing to the list of coronavirus casualties. The World Surf League cancelled the 2020 men’s and women’s seasons. Why it matters: The cancellation puts 11-time world champion Kelly Slater’s future in doubt, although 11 months rest could be the elixir for the Cocoa Beach superstar. It would be his 30th season on the world circuit. It’s unclear if Slater would return. He suffered a broken foot two seasons ago. Keep reading.
Uber offers COVID-19 contact tracing help amid chaotic U.S. response
“Uber has quietly launched a service to give public health officials quick access to data on drivers and riders presumed to have come into contact with someone infected with COVID-19,” Tina Bellon reports for Reuters. “Uber has long provided data to U.S. law enforcement officials in emergencies or criminal investigations. It first began to focus on health-related issues in 2019, when a resurgence of U.S. measles cases prompted several health departments to request data.” Keep reading.
📢 PRESENTED BY KEYSMART
🗳️ FLAG POLLS
What We Lose With the End of Office Culture: The evolution of conventional work life won’t come without some cost. Architectural Digest · 5 min
America’s hidden economic crisis: Widespread wage cuts: Employers are using pay cuts to stay afloat during the recession, an unusual move that could signal deep damage to the labor market. POLITICO · 6 min
How to talk to conspiracy theorists—and still be kind: Experts and r/ChangeMyView subreddit moderators offer 10 tips to debunk conspiracy theories convincingly. MIT Technology Review · 7 min