J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Clinton Watts, a senior fellow with the Foreign Policy Research Institute's program on national security, told the Senate Intelligence Committee's public hearing today that his group had observed suspected Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election, with ongoing efforts aimed at discrediting American politicians:

This past week we observed social media accounts discrediting Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, hoping to further foment unrest inside US democratic institutions.

Today's hearing is in two parts — two hours this morning to examine the history of Russian interference in elections, and two hours this afternoon to examine the cyber elements of those interferences.

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The new buyout barons

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Last month I wrote that SPACs are the new IPOs. But I may have understated it, because SPACs are also becoming the new private equity.

By the numbers: Short for "special purpose acquisition company," SPACs have raised $24 billion so far in 2020, with a loaded pipeline of upcoming offerings. U.S. buyout firms raised nearly $102 billion through the end of June — a much larger amount, but not so much larger that the two can't play on the same field.

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Macron visits Beirut promising a "new political pact" for Lebanon

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French President Emmanuel Macron walked through the blast-damaged streets of Beirut on Thursday, swarmed by people chanting for the fall of Lebanon's government and pleading for international aid.

Why it matters: Lebanon is at a breaking point. Its economy was collapsing and its government hardly functioning — all before a massive explosion destroyed swathes of the capital city, including its vital port.

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The PGA Championship is golf's first major in over a year

Photo: Gary Kellner/PGA of America via Getty Images

The 2020 PGA Championship tees off Thursday at San Francisco's TPC Harding Park, which is hosting its first-ever major.

Why it matters: It's the first major in more than a year — and the first of seven majors in the next 12 months. Though there won't be any fans in attendance, the excitement is palpable.