Future of military depends on revamping Pentagon budget | TheHill


As Congress begins to shift its attention from the 2019 defense budget to the 2020 budget request, it will be important to note whether the Pentagon follows its assessment from the summer of 2017 or settles for the inflationary growth described in the current budget request. The future of our military rebuild depends on it.

Source: Future of military depends on revamping Pentagon budget | TheHill

Secretive Russian GRU tests Trump with brazen tactics | TheHill


Russia’s secretive military intelligence agency, the GRU, is testing the limits of Western countries with its aggressive tactics and bold operations, prompting action from the Trump administration and some European allies as they seek to counter its behavior.

“We’re in a different kind of conflict,” said Jim Lewis, a former State Department official and expert in foreign policy and intelligence at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “It’s not going to be the kind of war we fought in the Middle East or the war we expected to fight in Europe during the Cold War.”

Source: Secretive Russian GRU tests Trump with brazen tactics | TheHill

Push to change wildlife act sparks lobbying blitz | TheHill


Action in Congress and the Trump administration to overhaul the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is spurring a lobbying frenzy.

Industries that have long sought to reduce the compliance burden of protecting imperiled animal and plants species are seizing a rare moment with a Republican Congress and White House that are sympathetic to their cause.

Source: Push to change wildlife act sparks lobbying blitz | TheHill

Three-quarters of secret political money comes from 15 groups


Just 15 groups account for three-quarters of the anonymous cash flowing into federal elections since the Supreme Court paved the way for corporate and union money in candidate races eight years ago, according to a new report provided first to USA TODAY.

The analysis by Issue One, a group that supports greater campaign-finance regulation, finds many of these groups remain big players in the 2018 midterm elections, although the sources of their money remain largely hidden from public view.

Source: Three-quarters of secret political money comes from 15 groups

Hurricane Florence: Damage depends on location, speed and strength


Three catastrophic hurricanes made U.S. landfall within 30 days of each other last year, causing more than $250 billion in losses.

By the time the winds died down and the floodwaters receded, Harvey, Irma and Maria were three of the five most destructive hurricanes in U.S. history – and 2017 was the costliest hurricane season ever.

But despite that exceptional cluster of storms, it’s not that hurricanes are getting stronger or more frequent that’s making them more expensive.

Source: Hurricane Florence: Damage depends on location, speed and strength

Trump raises political stakes as hurricane looms | TheHill


Trump has asserted that federal agencies are well-prepared for the huge impending storm, which is expected to make landfall anytime between Thursday and Saturday.

He has also sought to defend his handling of Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico a year ago.

That has sparked outrage from Democrats and other critics.

Trump skeptics argue that he will pay a political price if the expectations that he has set are not met.

Source: The Memo: Trump raises political stakes as hurricane looms | TheHill

The Oslo Accords at 25, the second intifada at 18

For Israelis and Palestinians, past is often prologue.

With no hope of peace, the occupation deepening, and the more pragmatic Palestinian leadership in decline and preparing for a succession crisis, will Palestinians in the West Bank again turn to violence?

After the U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem, Hamas called for a third intifada. Marwan Muasher, Jordan’s former foreign minister, argues that over time, the end of negotiations will lead to a bloody back-and-forth that will culminate in armed revolt.

In his judgment, a third intifada in the West Bank is “very likely.”

Source: The Oslo Accords at 25, the second intifada at 18

Bernanke on the causes of the financial crisis, questioning how we measure potential economic output, and more new research in economics  


Bernanke’s research, which is rooted in quantitative analysis of how the 2007-2009 financial crisis affected the economy, argues that the housing bust, while significantly damaging, can’t on its own explain why the Great Recession was so bad.

To understand fully the depth and timing of the economic downturn, we should look instead to the subsequent financial panic—including the run on short-term wholesale funding for financial institutions and the subsequent fire sales of credit-related assets—that sharply constrained the supply of credit.

Source: Bernanke on the causes of the financial crisis, questioning how we measure potential economic output, and more new research in economics