Congress: Capitol Hill’s revolving door, in one chart | Vox

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Last week, a fight erupted in Capitol Hill over a bipartisan agreement to give members of Congress and their staff a raise for the first time in 10 years.

It’s a debate forcing members of Congress — both Democrats and Republicans — to grapple with the reality that wages on Capitol Hill are stagnant and can’t keep up with inflation or the private sector.

Some, like progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), are worried that a congressional seat is becoming something only rich people can pursue.

Others are concerned that a decade with no pay increase is spurring more members of Congress to retire or take cushier lobbying jobs nearby on K Street when they’ve been voted out of office.

Source: Congress: Capitol Hill’s revolving door, in one chart – Vox

Cutting Language Training Is the Latest Foolish Retreat from Global Engagement | Defense One


Last month, students at the Defense Language Institute discovered that their study-abroad plans had been canceled, thanks to unexpected funding cuts to foreign language immersion programs.

This may prove a temporary disruption, yet it reflects the Trump administration’s continuing allocation of defense funds — and what remains of Department of State and USAID budgets — away from crucial programs that support global engagement.

Since Trump took office, funding has been cut for Department of State programs and personnel; international development initiatives; and cultural and language training like that provided at DLI.

(Meanwhile, the administration has launched or increased funding for programs that divide the U.S. its allies and provide fodder for their enemies: a border wall with Mexico; detention centers for new immigrants; and military support to Saudi Arabia despite its brutal campaign in Yemen.)

Among the strategically debilitating results is the degradation in the ability of military personnel and other government employees to understand and engage with foreign cultures.

Source: Cutting Language Training Is the Latest Foolish Retreat from Global Engagement – Defense One

Trump’s re-election kickoff: The greatest hits and a bit more

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Democrats should worry about this president.

Amazingly, he seems to have learned a little something in his first years in office. For instance, he actually recognized and said nice things about his fellow Republicans. And he did manage to return to the teleprompter and deliver what was a pretty coherent message.

The question, of course, is whether the campaign of an incumbent can overcome the mixture of bombast, confusion, and delusion that has characterized his presidency.

Source: Trump’s re-election kickoff: The greatest hits and a bit more

There is an off-ramp in the U.S.-Iran crisis

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The slow-motion crisis between Iran and the United States picked up tempo this week with Tehran’s announcement that it will soon defy restrictions set by the 2015 nuclear deal on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium.

Tehran’s first major step away from the nuclear accord since the United States exited the deal in 2018 comes in the wake of a series of attacks on tankers in the Persian Gulf, as well as missile and drone strikes directed at Saudi and Emirati infrastructure and American presence in Iraq.

The latest spasm of violence played out even as the Japanese prime minister left Tehran empty-handed after a mediation effort apparently encouraged by President Trump.

Source: There is an off-ramp in the U.S.-Iran crisis

Explainer: Two nights, 20 Democrats – What you should know about the first 2020 debate | Reuters

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When 20 Democrats take the stage next week for the first of 12 prime-time presidential primary debates, they will assemble according to months-in-the-making plans by the Democratic National Committee to accommodate its largest-ever field.

For two hours each on the nights of June 26 and 27, the candidates seeking the party’s 2020 nomination will go head-to-head at a performing arts center in downtown Miami in debates broadcast live by NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo.

Source: Explainer: Two nights, 20 Democrats – What you should know about the first 2020 debate – Reuters

Fed rate-cut signal sends stocks up, bond yields and dollar down | Reuters

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World stock markets rose on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve signaled it was likely to cut interest rates next month. The dollar fell and benchmark bond yields dropped to multi-year lows.

The Fed on Wednesday suggested rate cuts might start as soon as next month, saying it was ready to take action in the face of growing economic risks.

Source: Fed rate-cut signal sends stocks up, bond yields and dollar down – Reuters

U.S. tells India it is mulling caps on H-1B visas to deter data rules | Reuters

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The United States has told India it is considering caps on H-1B work visas for nations that force foreign companies to store data locally, three sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters, widening the two countries’ row over tariffs and trade.

The plan to restrict the popular H-1B visa program, under which skilled foreign workers are brought to the United States each year, comes days ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to New Delhi.

Source: Exclusive: U.S. tells India it is mulling caps on H-1B visas to deter data rules – sources – Reuters

China’s Xi says world hopes North Korea-U.S. talks can succeed | Reuters


The world hopes North Korea and the United States can talk to each other and for those talks to be successful, Chinese President Xi Jinping told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday, praising Pyongyang’s efforts toward denuclearization.

Xi is visiting China’s reclusive neighbor North Korea, seeking to bolster a longtime ally hit by U.N. sanctions over its nuclear and missile programs, a week before Xi and U.S. President Donald Trump meet amid a bitter trade dispute.

Source: China’s Xi says world hopes North Korea-U.S. talks can succeed – Reuters

The Deciders: Meet the voters defining American politics

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These voters live in some of the most competitive counties in America’s presidential battleground states, places set to play an outsized role in the 2020 presidential election. All four counties were decided by four percentage points or less in 2016 and ultimately won by Donald Trump.

Trump’s path to a second term will test an electoral map he realigned. He must hold the strong support of the white, working-class voters who helped him capture Florida and Pennsylvania.

Source: The Deciders: Meet the voters defining American politics

Mission Critical Voice Communications: Your Life May Depend on It! | NIST


First responders have relied on radios as their primary means of voice communications for several decades. Radio systems are extremely reliable, and their tower sites are hardened with bulletproof shelters. Backup power systems enable radios to continue working through unforeseen disasters, either natural or man-made.

In addition to the radio, my nephew carries a smartphone to communicate with ambulance dispatchers. Modern smartphones have many new data-rich features not currently available on radio devices.

For example, they often have location-based services such as GPS navigation with up-to-date traffic, online weather reports and radar. But some areas my nephew serves in the Fort Worth metroplex do not have reliable cellular coverage. In those situations, he uses the radio.

First responders see the advantages of migrating from radio to smartphones. However, they like the simple yet powerful “push to talk” function in typical radios: Pressing a single button enables you to broadcast to whoever is using the channel, and releasing the button puts you in receiving mode.

Source: Mission Critical Voice Communications: Your Life May Depend on It! | NIST