Beyond the Front Page…today’s stories (Thursday, Aug. 18)

Department of Justice is ending contracts with private prisons. The change will be phased in and could be changed, of course, by the next President and her AG (but that seems unlikely if HRC wins).

Brazilians say US swimmers merely threatened with death, not robbed. Whew. That’s a relief. (Chicago Tribune)

Turkey’s “Reichstag” Fire. A sobering analysis of Erdogan’s political strategy by Michael Rubin (Commentary) 

Susan Rice, Pres. Obama’s national security adviser, says things are just swell. Here’s an idea: send her on the Sunday shows. (Vox)

State Department admits the $400 million to Iran was conditional on the hostage release. Still not a ransom, they insist to increasing disbelief and rising concerns over the message that “contingent payments” cause. (Politico)

Angela Stent on where US-Russian relations are headed and what the next president can do. Stent is one of the best analysts of that topic, as well as US-European relations. She is experienced, thoughtful, and insightful, as this piece shows. (Washington Post)