Summary of “How the U.S. Has Failed to Protect the 2018 Election-and Four Ways to Protect 2020”

While this failure has left the U.S. unprepared to protect the 2018 elections, there is still a chance to defend American democracy in 2020.
Following an acrimonious debate inside the White House, as reported by the New York Times’s David Sanger, President Obama rejected several retaliatory measures in response to Russian interference-and U.S. intelligence agencies did not emerge with a full-throated description of Russia’s meddling until after the election.
Republican efforts to downplay Russia’s role constitute a dangerous gamble: It is highly unlikely that future election meddling will continue to have such an unbalanced and positive impact for the GOP. The Russians are currently the United States’ most visible information-warfare adversaries, but they are not alone.
Direct attacks against the U.S. election system itself-as opposed to influence operations aimed at voters-were clearly a consideration of U.S. adversaries: There are multiple reports of the widely diffuse U.S. election infrastructure being mapped out and experimentally exploited by Russian groups in 2016.
The combination of offensive cyber techniques with a disinformation campaign would enable a hostile nation or group to create an aura of confusion and illegitimacy around an election that could lead to half of the American populace forever considering that election to be stolen.
While it is much too late to effectively rehabilitate election security for the 2018 midterms, there are four straightforward steps the United States can take to prepare for potential attacks in 2020.
In the run-up to the most recent French and German elections, the respective cybersecurity agencies of these countries had access to intelligence on likely adversaries, the legal authority to coordinate election protection and the technical chops to work directly with technology platforms.
For states’ autonomy to thrive, it is critical for every state to follow the lead of Colorado and a handful of others in building competent statewide election security teams that set strong standards for verifiable voting, perform security testing of local systems, and provide a rapid-reaction function in case of an attempted attack.

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Summary of “Here’s How America Uses Its Land”

Using surveys, satellite images and categorizations from various government agencies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture divides the U.S. into six major types of land.
Piecing the data together state-by-state can give a general sense of how U.S. land is used.
The actual land area used to grow the food Americans eat is much smaller-only about the size of Indiana, Illinois and half of Iowa combined.
The amount of U.S. land used to produce citrus fruits alone is larger than Rhode Island.
More than one-third of U.S. land is used for pasture-by far the largest land-use type in the contiguous 48 states.
Forestland is the last major category of land categorized by the USDA. Unprotected forests and timberland constitute a quarter of the contiguous U.S. According to the U.S. Forest Service, timber harvests typically occur on about 11 million acres each year.
Much of U.S. land serves specific purposes, such as the 2 million acres devoted to golf courses or the 3 million acres for airports.
Magazine, since 2008 the amount of land owned by the 100 largest private landowners has grown from 28 million acres to 40 million, an area larger than the state of Florida.

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Summary of “Mortgage, Groupon and card debt: how the bottom half bolsters U.S. economy”

A Reuters analysis of U.S. household data shows that the bottom 60 percent of income-earners have accounted for most of the rise in spending over the past two years even as the their finances worsened – a break with a decades-old trend where the top 40 percent had primarily fueled consumption growth.
The data shows the rise in median expenditures has outpaced before-tax income for the lower 40 percent of earners in the five years to mid-2017 while the upper half has increased its financial cushion, deepening income disparities.
As a result, over the past year signs of financial fragility have been multiplying, with credit card and auto loan delinquencies on the rise and savings plumbing their lowest since 2005.
Some economists say that without the $1.5 trillion in tax cuts enacted in January spending, which has grown by around 3 percent a year over the past few years, could already be stalling now.
In the past, rising incomes of the upper 40 percent of earners have driven most of the consumption growth, but since 2016 consumer spending has been primarily fueled by a run-down in savings, mainly by the bottom 60 percent of earners, according to Oxford Economics.
Hourly wages for lower- and middle-income workers rose just over 2 percent in the year to March 2017, compared with about 4 percent for those near the top and bottom, while spending jumped by roughly 8 percent.
Economists say one symptom of financial strain was last year’s spike in serious delinquencies on U.S. credit card debt, which many poorer households use as a stop-gap measure.
More borrowers have also been falling behind on auto loans, which helped bring leverage on non-mortgage household debt to a record high in the first quarter of this year.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How U.S. intelligence agencies can find out what Trump told Putin”

President Donald Trump’s insistence on holding a one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin hobbled U.S. intelligence agencies who would usually get an intimate look at such a sitdown, but American spies still have extraordinary capabilities to piece together what was discussed.
Because they likely are missing the one critical piece of intelligence they need the most – a word-by-word account of what, exactly, Trump and Putin said during the meeting – those officials appear to be flying somewhat blind when it comes to fulfilling their most important mission of helping U.S. policy makers figure out what comes next.
U.S. intelligence analysts would want to parse every word, facial expression and change in body language of Trump and his wily adversary, and share their findings with the White House, Congress, U.S. military and diplomatic leaders, and their many intelligence allies around the world.
U.S. intelligence officials made clear their concerns about Trump going it alone with Putin long before the specifics of the Helsinki meeting were finalized.
Under established protocols, Coats or other intelligence leaders would brief top White House officials, and possibly Trump or national security adviser John Bolton, about what the NSA, CIA and other agencies were capable of doing before, during and after the summit.
Ideally, U.S. intelligence officials would be able to watch video of the event to see the interaction between Trump and Putin, and to look for other hints, such as whether the Russian president was being fed intelligence that his side had learned during the meeting itself.
So Trump’s comments in the chaotic news conference afterward prompted even more concern among intelligence officials about whether Trump made promises that went against U.S. interests on issues like Crimea, Syria, Iran and nuclear weapons – and whether they would be able to figure out what really happened.
For their part, U.S. intelligence officials have been spending more time and energy just trying to figure out whether Trump did make concessions, and whether he revealed things he shouldn’t have, according to Schindler, Priess and Peter Harrell, a senior Obama administration State Department official familiar with summits like Helsinki.

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Summary of “China Begins to Question Whether It’s Ready for a Trade War”

Now as one gets closer, some in Beijing are starting to openly wonder whether China is ready for the fight – an unusually direct challenge to the leadership of the world’s second-largest economy.
In recent weeks, prominent academics have begun to question if China’s slowing, trade-dependent economy can withstand a sustained attack from Trump, which has already started to weigh on stock prices.
China vowed to retaliate immediately and “Forcefully,” prompting even more threats from Trump that have brought the world’s two largest economies to the brink of a trade war.
Last week, Xi told a group of mostly American and European multinational CEOs that China planned to strike back at U.S. trade measures, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people briefed on the remarks.
“Has China completed the task of ‘getting rich’? Has China completed the primary stage of socialism as Deng Xiaoping described? Can you begin to compete directly with the United States and other Western countries?” Yu wrote.
“If mismanaged and the China-U.S. trade war is fully upgraded, it could expand into a financial war, an economic war, a resource war, and a geopolitical war,” Ren Zeping, chief economist at China Evergrande Group, wrote in one popular commentary published on June 5.
The slide has fueled warnings about a repeat of the market’s collapse in 2015, the last time China saw such open criticism of economic policymakers.
“People are going to look back at this year as the pivot point when Xi Jinping overreached and sparked an international backlash against the party and China’s development model on multiple fronts,” said Jude Blanchette, China practice lead at Crumpton Group in Arlington, Virginia, and a former Conference Board researcher in Beijing.

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Summary of “Jared Kushner’s Middle East Peace Plan Could Backfire”

While dozens of Palestinians in Gaza were killed in clashes with the Israeli Defense Forces, the Trump administration chose neither to express sympathy for the Palestinians killed nor to join international calls for Israeli restraint.
Trump has, on the other hand, cut financial assistance for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency out of pique that the Palestinians have not given him the requisite “Appreciation or respect,” as if humanitarian aid, even when it serves U.S. national interests, should be awarded in return for flattery.
It is no surprise that the Palestinians stopped talking to the administration.
These changing regional perspectives do not mean Arab leaders will expend the political capital to deliver the Palestinians, even if they could.
The fourth fantasy is that the Palestinians can be bought off with economic assistance to compensate for political losses.
In his interview with the Palestinian newspaper, Kushner suggested that the Trump administration could “Attract very significant investments in infrastructure that will lead to increases in GDP and we also hope a blanket of peaceful coexistence.” Putting aside that the Trump administration has not even made or been able to attract major investments in U.S. infrastructure, which makes one wonder about the West Bank and Gaza, this emphasis on economic issues has been tried unsuccessfully many times before.
During the Oslo era of the 1990s, then the 2002 Roadmap for Peace and the Bush administration’s Annapolis process, and finally Secretary of State John Kerry’s effort during the Obama administration, successive U.S. administrations have tried to enhance the prospects for peace by improving conditions on the ground.
No Palestinian leader can survive in office by promising economic benefits alone.

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Summary of “Fund managers are preparing for a crash”

The signs are starting to add up that the United States is at the top of the economic cycle, and therefore headed down, likely into a bear market and recession, an increasing number of economists and money managers say.
“Liquidity drives markets and liquidity is shifting,” Yusko said at the Inside Smart Beta conference last week in New York.
Neither Yusko nor Beinner called for an immediate market turn, but say investors should be mindful of risk and hedging their bets, particularly in risky assets.
Looking at the upsideBut not everyone sees the economy in immediately dire straits or expects that a crash is on its way.
Many investors say they remain bullish on the stock market, citing strong U.S. data prints and government spending on the horizon that should further stimulate the economy.
Group, told Yahoo Finance he’s expecting the bull market to continue through the rest of this year.
“While the magnitude of the current tech-mania is far less than it was in 2000, the character of today’s stock market increasingly mirrors dot-com,” he said in an earlier note to clients called Dot-com Deja Vu.However, Paulsen also issued a word of warning in an email to Yahoo Finance.
Dion Rabouin is a markets reporter for Yahoo Finance.

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Summary of “Deep in the Pentagon, a secret AI program to find hidden nuclear missiles”

Washington is increasingly concerned about Pyongyang’s development of mobile missiles that can be hidden in tunnels, forests and caves.
The Pentagon research on using AI to identify potential missile threats and track mobile launchers is in its infancy and is just one part of that overall effort.
Budget documents reviewed by Reuters noted plans to expand the focus of the mobile missile launcher program to “The remainder of the 4+1 problem sets.” The Pentagon typically uses the 4+1 terminology to refer to China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and terrorist groups.
TURNING TURTLES INTO RIFLES. Both supporters and critics of using AI to hunt missiles agree that it carries major risks.
U.S. Air Force General John Hyten, the top commander of U.S. nuclear forces, said once AI-driven systems become fully operational, the Pentagon will need to think about creating safeguards to ensure humans – not machines – control the pace of nuclear decision-making, the “Escalation ladder” in Pentagon speak.
Experts at the Rand Corporation, a public policy research body, and elsewhere say there is a high probability that countries like China and Russia could try to trick an AI missile-hunting system, learning to hide their missiles from identification.
Dr. Steven Walker, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a pioneer in AI that initially funded what became the Internet, said the Pentagon still needs humans to review AI systems’ conclusions.
Although some officials believe elements of the AI missile program could become viable in the early 2020s, others in the U.S. government and the U.S. Congress fear research efforts are too limited.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Most Successful Ethnic Group in the U.S. May Surprise You”

Nigerians are entering the medical field in the U.S. at an increased rate, leaving their home country to work in American hospitals, where they can earn more and work in better facilities.
Last year, President Donald Trump reportedly said in an Oval Office discussion that Nigerians would never go back to “Their huts” once they saw America.
After the war against Biafra separatists in the ’60s, the Nigerian government sponsored scholarships for students to pursue higher education abroad. English-speaking Nigerian students excelled at universities in the U.S. and U.K., often finding opportunities to continue their education or begin their professional career in their host country.
Dr. Jacqueline Nwando Olayiwola was born in Columbus, Ohio, to such Nigerian immigrant parents.
Her parents did return, but with few jobs available in the economic decline of the 1980s, many Nigerians did not.
Makanjuola intended to one day pursue her career in Nigeria as her parents had, but it’s too hard to leave the U.S., she says: “Many Nigerians intend to go back, but it’s impractical because there’s more opportunity here.”
Anyone from the Nigerian diaspora will tell you their parents gave them three career choices: doctor, lawyer or engineer.
What about Nigerians who come to the U.S. and don’t succeed? Wey, the activist chef, says there’s a lot of pressure to fit a certain mold when you’re Nigerian.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Amazon cuts Whole Foods prices for Prime members in new grocery showdown”

Amazon.com Inc and Whole Foods Market are making a surgical strike in the already brutal grocery price war.
On Wednesday, Whole Foods debuted a much-anticipated loyalty program that offers special discounts to Prime customers, including 10 percent off hundreds of sale items and rotating weekly specials such as $10 per pound off wild-caught halibut steaks.
Amazon previously announced free two-hour delivery from Whole Foods stores for members of Prime, its subscription club with fast shipping and video streaming.
The new loyalty strategy will test whether Amazon’s $13.7 billion deal for Whole Foods brings much-feared disruption and an intensified price war to the $800 billion U.S. grocery industry dominated by Walmart Inc and Kroger Co. Whole Foods, with 463 U.S. stores and roughly 1 percent share of the fragmented U.S. grocery market, has gained momentum since the Amazon merger last summer, Whole Foods co-founder and Chief Executive John Mackey told Reuters.
Still, Philadelphia-area Whole Foods shopper and Prime member Heather Kincade, 46, is going to need convincing.
LOWER MARGINS. In Amazon, Whole Foods has found an owner that is famously comfortable spending away profits on new businesses or on lower prices.
“Given how important it is for Amazon to provide value for their customers, and customers value lower prices, I would think they’d be comfortable operating Whole Foods at a lower margin while experimenting with the operating model,” said Tom Furphy, former vice president of consumables and AmazonFresh, and now chief executive of Consumer Equity Partners.
CEO Rodney McMullen told Reuters earlier this month that the chain’s prices will “Absolutely” be lower than Whole Foods on the typical shopper’s basket of about 50 items per week.

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