A 3-Percent Solution for NATO | Defense One


NATO’s 2-percent spending goal is arbitrary. It is not tied to any element of alliance strategy. Spending more is not the same as spending well. Spending levels alone tell us nothing about whether the alliance is investing in the kind of capabilities it needs to deter and defend.

Europeans complain about Trump’s bullying, but they play the same numbers game by suggesting that the 2-percent threshold should include spending on such things as foreign aid. Not only do such self-serving arguments further inflame transatlantic tensions, they distract allies from investing in the kinds of capabilities that can address the broad spectrum of 21st-century threats they face.

Source: A 3-Percent Solution for NATO – Defense One

New SNAP rule change just made it harder to combat future recessions


SNAP is designed to expand during economic downturns, and in doing so, it offers nutrition assistance to low-income families and also provides economic stimulus to communities and the economy as a whole. Accordingly, the USDA’s final rule has greatly weakened a crucial part of the safety net for vulnerable populations and one of the most effective recession-fighting tools in the fiscal policy toolkit.

Work requirements are imposed on those who are otherwise eligible for SNAP but who are between the ages of 18 and 49, not disabled, and do not have dependents (“able-bodied without dependents” [ABAWD]). ABAWD work requirements inhibit SNAP from expanding rapidly during economic downturns as it becomes more difficult to find a job and satisfy the work requirement. This constraint makes SNAP a less-effective automatic stabilizer.

Source: New SNAP rule change just made it harder to combat future recessions

To fix our infrastructure, Washington needs to start from scratch


Unlike many other issues in the capital, politics was not the major obstacle. Infrastructure is famously nonpartisan in Washington, where both sides of the aisle regularly exchange ideas on transportation, water, and broadband policy. At different times over the past three years, House and Senate leadership expressed support for putting infrastructure debates on the legislative calendar.

We would suggest a different culprit. Washington could not deliver reform because Congress and the administration failed to commit to a process to rethink and redesign current law. Key parties agreed to do something, but they never actually debated what that something should be. Three years later, there is still no clarity on what “reform” even means.

To enact genuine reform—legislation that completely reshapes the government’s approach to infrastructure programming, funding, and regulation—federal leaders must be willing to revisit the fundamental goals the country’s infrastructure systems intend to achieve and honestly assess whether current policies share those objectives.

Source: To fix our infrastructure, Washington needs to start from scratch

What’s Next on Impeachment | Lawfare


Not only is the Judiciary Committee larger than the Intelligence Committee, but its membership also tends to be more ideologically extreme. Using a standard political science measure of congressional ideology—where negative values correspond to more liberal members and positive values to more conservative ones—we see that the average Judiciary Committee Democrat (-0.45) is more liberal than his or her typical colleague of the same party on the Intelligence Committee (-0.34) and in the chamber as a whole (-0.37); the same holds true for Republicans (0.62, 0.48, and 0.51, respectively).

Source: What’s Next on Impeachment – Lawfare

OPEC and allies agree to deepen oil output cuts | Reuters


OPEC and allies led by Russia on Thursday agreed one of the deepest output cuts this decade to support crude prices and prevent a glut but were still debating how long the curbs would last next year.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is meeting to discuss supply policy in Vienna. OPEC will then meet on Friday with Russia and other producers, a grouping known as OPEC+.

Source: OPEC and allies agree to deepen oil output cuts – Reuters

Gazing into the recession crystal ball | Reuters


Recession fears were sparked earlier this year when the yield curve inverted – a key indicator of a pending downturn.

An inverted yield curve occurs when yields on short-term bonds are higher than those on long-term bonds, a sign investors are so worried about the future that they are willing to hold long-term bonds, which are usually viewed as a safer alternative to stocks and other investments, even when the payouts are low.

While concerns have eased, an economic rebound is not expected any time soon, according to a recent Reuters poll of economists, and pockets of the economy and markets which are causing concern. Slowdowns were seen in manufacturing and private payrolls data out this week.

Source: Gazing into the recession crystal ball – Reuters

‘Nasty’, ‘two-faced’, ‘brain dead’: NATO pulls off summit despite insults | Reuters


NATO leaders set aside public insults ranging from “delinquent” to “brain dead” and “two-faced” on Wednesday, declaring at a 70th anniversary summit they would stand together against a common threat from Russia and prepare for China’s rise.

Officials insisted the summit was a success: most notably, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan backed off from a threat to block plans to defend northern and eastern Europe unless allies declared Kurdish fighters in Syria terrorists.

Source: ‘Nasty’, ‘two-faced’, ‘brain dead’: NATO pulls off summit despite insults – Reuters

In Colombia, Protests Build on a Wave of Demonstrations Across South America


This protest effect is a new phenomenon in the region.

Protests in one South American country are fortifying demonstrators in another—first by highlighting grievances, then by inspiring people to take action, and finally by proving that individuals who might have felt powerless may just have a chance to effect drastic change.

Just as crucially, when demonstrators manage to achieve their goals—as they did in Bolivia, Ecuador and, perhaps soon, Chile—it sends a message to leaders that they cannot afford to ignore protests and hope they simply run out of steam.

Source: In Colombia, Protests Build on a Wave of Demonstrations Across South America

Macron pension reform: France paralyzed by biggest strike in years | BBC News


France’s largest nationwide strike in years has severely disrupted schools and transport.

Workers are angry about planned pension reforms that would see them retiring later or facing reduced payouts.

School and transport workers have been joined by police, lawyers and hospital and airport staff for a general walkout.

President Emmanuel Macron wants to introduce a universal points-based pension system.

That would replace France’s current system, which has 42 different pension schemes across its private and public sectors, with variations in retirement age and benefits.

Source: Macron pension reform: France paralyzed by biggest strike in years – BBC News

Citizenship amendment bill: Citizenship amendment bill gets Cabinet nod, set to be tabled in Parliament | The Economic Times

[India]

Slammed by the Opposition as divisive and communal, the bill is a key part of the BJP’s ideological project as it proposes citizenship to non-Muslim, mostly Hindus, refugees living in India and will protect them from the nation-wide NRC drive the central government is planning to identify illegal immigrants.

At the Cabinet briefing, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said the government has taken care of the interests of everyone and “the interest of India.”

Source: Citizenship amendment bill: Citizenship amendment bill gets Cabinet nod, set to be tabled in Parliament – The Economic Times