Current Events
Current Events

DELIVERY DUEL

Amazon Prime Day highlights a showdown in online shopping – Who will dominate delivery?

The race between the top retailers to get to your front door.

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Summer Shopping Holiday

  • Amazon Prime Day: Starts 3pm Monday for 36 hrs.
  • Special deals to “Prime Members” who pay an annual fee ($119) for free 2-day shipping. 
  • More than half of America’s households are Amazon Prime members – proof that online convenience & free, fast shipping matters to consumers.
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Who Can Compete With Amazon Delivery?

Walmart Raises Hand

  • Bought retailer Jet.com in 2016.
  • Walmart: 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of one of its stores.
  • 5,000+ stores = instant shipping centers IF they can master logistics. Recently launched same-day text-order trial ‘Jetblack.’
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Amazon’s New Strategy

Turn small businesses into drivers

“Amazon will take an active role in helping interested entrepreneurs start, set up and manage their own delivery business. Successful owners can earn as much as $300,000 in annual profit operating a fleet of up to 40 delivery vehicles.”

Amazon, Press Release
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That's not all. Target bought a company called "Shipt" to try to up its delivery game. A noticeable trend across these major retailers? Competition for your grocery shopping. In the meantime, Amazon Prime Day actually lifts shopping for other sites. Read more: SmartHerNews.com

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Current Events

UNREST

OUTSIDE THE WEST

Protests flare-up around the world while a spotlight shines on the Helsinki summit between Presidents Trump & Putin.

Here’s 2 countries you should watch outside of the West… and why they matter.

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Nicaragua

  • At least 10 people died this weekend, raising the death toll to more than 300 since protests began in April.
  • Opposition groups protest gov’t run by President Daniel Ortega.
  • Critics say Ortega strangling democratic institutions in a deadly power grab; supporters say protesters are “criminals” or “terrorists.”
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“Nicaragua’s descent into chaos makes the population vulnerable to lawlessness, particularly gang activity and drug trafficking, and encourages mass migration.”

Senior Analyst Allison Fedirka, Geopolitical Futures, who underscores instability In Nicaragua can put more pressure on neighboring unstable states, with larger migration flows to America.
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Iraq

  • Reports of 2 dead from multi-day, multi-city protests vs. the gov’t.
  • Protestors say basic services (like water and electricity) not provided.
  • Bigger Picture: Iraq doesn’t have a *new* gov’t since May election; chaos not good for security as politicians try building coalition gov’t.
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Iran worked to create a stable neighbor after invasion of ISIS, filling a vacuum with withdrawal of U.S. Iran also facing domestic protests over last several weeks for basic services. More at SmartHERNews.com

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Current Events

Western Renovation?

Will President Trump “reshape” the West?

What happened at the NATO summit & why the timing matters.

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NATO:

What You Should Know

  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization
  • 29 countries (Europe & U.S./Canada)
  • Alliance dates back to 1949
  • “Collective defense” (an attack against one Ally is considered as an attack against all Allies)
Click Here: Read More
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What’s The Drama?

  • At NATO summit, Pres. Trump criticized member countries (again) for not contributing more to common defense.
  • Pres. used term “inappropriate” several times describing biz deals Germany has with Russia while not contributing more to NATO & wanting U.S. protection (aka $$$); described situation as unfair to American taxpayer
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“…Germany is just paying a little bit over 1 percent, whereas the United States, in actual numbers, is paying 4.2 percent of a much larger GDP.  So I think that’s inappropriate also.  You know, we’re protecting Germany, we’re protecting France.  We’re protecting everybody.  And yet we’re paying a lot of money to protect.”

President Trump, July 11, 2018
Click: Transcript
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“I agree with you that we have to do make sure that our allies are investing more.  The good news is that allies have started to invest more in defense. After years of cutting defense budgets, they have started to add billions to their defense budgets.  And last year was the biggest increase in defense spending across Europe and Canada in that generation.”

NATO Sec. Stoltenberg, July 11, 2018
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Why Timing Matters?

  • NATO troops deployed to areas like Poland as a way of countering an emboldened Russia (Russia ignored international borders & “took” Crimea from Ukraine).
  • Pres. Trump criticized NATO members (who want protection from Russia) AND pointed out their own relationships w/the Kremlin before his mtg w/Russian Pres. Putin next week in Helsinki.
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Is NATO worth the investment? One commentator says: "The issue is not whether NATO is still useful, but whether the alliance can reform itself before it implodes."

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Current Events

WHERE DOES HE STAND?

A closer look at the next Supreme Court nominee.

“A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law…. “

Judge Brett Kavanaugh accepting the nomination for Supreme Court. What do his past rulings tell us about how he might rule from the highest court in the land?
Current Events

RE: A President facing criminal investigations

“… a President who is concerned about an ongoing criminal investigation is almost inevitably going to do a worse job as President.”

Kavanaugh in 2009. He went on to say that just as Congress provides a "deferral of civil suits" for Presidents, it should consider the same for "criminal investigations and prosecutions."
Current Events

RE: Gun Rights

“Semi-automatic rifles, like semi-automatic handguns, have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens for self-defense in the home, hunting, and other lawful uses.”

Kavanuaugh in a 2011 dissenting opinion arguing that the Second Amendment includes the right to own semi-automatic rifles.
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RE: Gov’t Surveillance

“….the Government’s metadata collection program is entirely consistent with the Fourth Amendment.”

Kavanaugh in a 2015 ruling on the National Security Agency’s collection of phone records. He went on to say that the "Government’s program for bulk collection of 2 telephony metadata serves a critically important special need – preventing terrorist attacks on the United States."
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RE: Abortion

“…the Government has permissible interests in favoring fetal life, protecting the best interests of a minor, and refraining from facilitating abortion…. so long as it does not impose an undue burden on a woman seeking an abortion.”

Kavanaugh in a 2017 dissent in a case about whether a detained illegal immigrant teen could be released from custody to obtain an abortion.
Current Events

Some critics of the Affordable Care Act point the finger at Kavanaugh because the Supreme Court echoed his logic from an earlier case regarding treating the individual mandate as a tax rather than a penalty when the high court upheld the law in 2015.

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Current Events

BORDER DISPUTE

While the deadline looms for separated children to be returned to their family, Americans living on the border receive word of a new wall coming through.

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Tuesday Deadline to Reunite Children Under 5

  • DOJ: Half will be reunited by court-imposed deadline.
  • Last Friday, DOJ asked for more time – only able to identify, locate & vet 54 parents of 102 kids.
  • Past deadline, now what? Judge can impose fines, but admits more time needed. ACLU, which brought the lawsuit, says it just wants families reunited fast.
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Judge Rejects Request to Hold Children Longer

  • Decree states children in immigration detention not be held more than 20 days.
  • Admin now may have 2 options: release the family or split them up – which Trump’s June 20 directive pledged to stop.
  • Older kids to be reunited by July 26.
Current Events

Border Wall Land Surveys

  • More property owners along S. Texas border are getting notices for a possible border wall.
  • Border Patrol: the area, Starr Co., most “volatile” stretch, currently lacks border wall.
  • In March, Congress approved $1.6B in fedl funding for 33 miles of fencing in Rio Grande valley – half of what Border Patrol wanted.
  • Pres. Trump has requested $25B.
Current Events

In Arizona, New Mexico & California, Federal Govt controls 60-foot wide strip of land along the border. Not true in Texas, where almost all property is private. Click for one reason why a fence in Texas's Starr County has failed in the past.

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RACE AGAINST TIME

World Watches Remarkable Rescue Attempt in Thailand

A nearly 3mile, 6 hour treacherous underwater escape for children – many of whom don’t know how to swim.

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The Basics:

  • Who: 12 Boys (ages 11-16) & 25-year-old soccer coach.
  • What: Soccer team went into cave after practice to explore.
  • Where: N. Thailand.
  • When: June 23; not found for 10 days.
  • How: 1,000 volunteers, 13 foreign divers & 5 Thai navy SEALs are doing key, rescue swim.
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How To Get Them Out?

  • Wearing breathing masks, each boy will be led by 2-3 divers.
  • Guide rope & spare oxygen tanks placed along route.
  • It’s appx. 1-mile swim from where the boys are to the rescuers’ base; further to cave entrance.
  • Ret. Thai Navy SEAL diver died Friday when he ran out of air.
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So Many Dangers

  • Cave: oxygen levels at 15%.
  • Swim: tight (15 in) & treacherous (shaped like toilet’s U-bend). Many of boys don’t know how to swim.
  • Water: Zero visibility. No talking in cave diving, communication through hand signals, but not possible in muddy water.
  • Weather: Rainy season – monsoons expected soon.
  • Time: Rescue ops. may take days.
Current Events

Thai Navy SEALs carried a batch of letters from the group to family outside, filled with assurances and requests for a dinner out for chicken once they are freed. Grab a tissue & read here.

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Current Events

ICYMI:

THE HOPE METRIC

America’s unemployment rate went up in June to 4%.

Why a higher unemployment rate reflects a healthy job market.

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Jobs Report 101

  • You are counted as part of the labor force if you are able to work, want to work, and actively looking for work.
  • More Americans started looking for work last month – a good sign that reflects optimism.
  • The labor force grew by 601,000 people, reflecting more people looking for a job and the unemployment went up slightly.

 

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Something To Consider:

  • Latino unemployment rate fell to a record low; more women and blacks looking for work.
  • Wages continue to increase – an important sign of healthy job market. However, when adjusted for inflation, the take-home pay is essentially flat to last year. Possible reason? More Americans fill lower paid jobs during summer months (AP).
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National vs. Local

While overall job picture positive, the numbers differ state-to-state.

CNBC: Some important swing states like Michigan have seen unemployment rates rise.

“The jobless rate was also higher than the national average in Arizona, Mississippi, Louisiana and Pennsylvania, all states Trump carried in 2016.”

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Don't forget the impact of potential aluminum & steel tariffs on Mexico/Canada/Europe for swing states like Michigan/Pennsylvania. A lingering question: What do the tariffs on China (and China tariffs on U.S.) do to the U.S.? economy & job market? More To Come.

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Current Events

IRAN:
ON THE BRINK?

Iranian government at the center of a crucial meeting with world powers, an alleged terrorist plot, and domestic unrest – all the while threatening to close one of the world’s crucial waterways.

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FRIDAY MEETING

  • First meeting of world powers since America left so-called “Iran Nuclear Deal.”
  • Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia will meet w/Iran in Vienna (where an Iranian diplomat was *just* arrested).
  • Why meet now? Irans wants access to intl banking system & business. Others want business w/Iran & no nuclear program.
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What’s Important To Know

  • Iran’s economy under intense pressure due to U.S. sanctions; more coming in next few months including on oil sector. Currency has dramatically lost value.
  • Public protests mount against govt, corruption, economy, etc.
  • Water scarcity an issue as a major drought continues; one Iranian general blamed “foreign interference” for lack of rain.
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In The Meantime…

  • Belgian authorities arrested Iranian couple for “attempt at terrorist murder and preparing a terrorist crime.”
  • Allegedly planning to bomb a rally held by an opposition group of the current Iranian govt.
  • More arrests made in France
  • Iranian diplomat who works in Vienna arrested in Germany; Iran says not involved.
Current Events

As tensions rise, Iran threatens to close a strategic waterway; the U.S. Navy patrols these waters and promises to keep them open. Conflict between the two is not uncommon but this year? Iran has made ZERO attempts to harass U.S. Navy ships.

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Current Events

Immigration Backlash

ABOLISH ICE?

As tens of thousands, take to the street to protest Trump’s immigration policies, there are growing calls from progressive activists & Democrats to eliminate the agency altogether.

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What is ICE Anyway?

  • Immigration & Customs Enforcement employs 20K+.
  • Created in 2003 after 9/11 attacks.
  • 2 main divisions: Homeland Security Investigations and Enforcement & Removal Ops.
  • HSI investigates money laundering, human smuggling, drug trafficking, cybercrime, etc.
  • ERO arrests, detains, & deports undocumented immigrants.
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Do We Really Need ICE?

  • Critics say: No, its outdated with too broad of reach, especially under current “zero-tolerance” immigration policies where illegal border crossers are arrested & taken into ICE custody.
  • Supporters say: Yes, immigration enforcement is important. ICE manages illegal immigrants. If you get rid of it, then what?
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Who Did ICE’s Job Before 2003?

ICE created when 22 federal agencies consolidated under Department of Homeland Security.

The Immigration & Naturalization Service, U.S. Customs Service & The Federal Protective Services morphed into “ICE”.

CLICK FULL LIST
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Something To Consider

“The child of a forced marriage between two defunct federal agencies — The United States Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service — ICE has long struggled to balance its dual roles of transnational criminal investigations and deportations.”

New York Times
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How Did We Get Here?

  • Campaign began with Socialist Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who pulled off an upset in NY House primary race last week.
  • Rep. Pocan (D-WI) is writing a bill to abolish ICE after border visit.
  • 19 HSI agents within ICE wrote a letter to DHS Secy saying they want to separate HSI from ICE because ICE’s reputation is making it difficult to do their job.
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“…you get rid of ICE you’re going to have a country that you’re going to be afraid to walk out of your house.”

Pres. Trump on calls to abolish ICE, predicting Democrats will be “beaten so badly” if that's their campaign for the midterms. In a tweet later, he reiterated there was “zero chance” of ICE being abolished.
Current Events

Bigger picture: Is ICE & the entire Dept of Homeland Security efficient & effective? Will ICE become a political red line for the midterm elections? Meanwhile, during all this, Ronald Vitiello takes over as ICE's acting director. Learn more about him here.

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“Bloodiest Election in Modern History”

Mexico Votes Sunday

It’s Mexico’s biggest election with more than 3,000 local & regional posts up for grabs.

Fed up with bloodshed & corruption, voters are backing a leftist maverick for President – and that has outsiders worried.

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Mexico: Bigger Picture

  • 132 candidates or politicians have been killed since the start of election season in September.
  • Record 25K homicides last year.
  • BUT already this year: 20,506 homicides, 4K+ in May alone. 
  • Current Pres. Peña Nieto, center-right, can’t run due to term limits.
  • In addition to corruption & violence, anger and concern about U.S. border policies.
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Presidential Frontrunner

  • Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador  (nicknamed: “AMLO”)
  • Fmr. Mexico City mayor, runner-up for President in 2006 & 2012.
  • Spent his political career railing against Mexico’s establishment.
  • Campaigned on ending corruption & bringing peace, but few concrete details.
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Wildcard

  • Opponents say AMLO is a radical populist like Hugo Chavez & will turn Mexico into Venezuela.
  • Trump admin is also concerned.
  • AMLO wrote a book called “Oye, Trump” (“Listen Up, Trump”).

“Honestly, my strongest feeling about him is that we don’t know what to expect.”
Roberta Jacobson, recent U.S. ambassador to Mexico

Current Events

And what would AMLO's plan be for Mexico's rampant drug trafficking? Listen to what he said - in the heart of the main Sinaloa cartel's territory - when asked if he would legalize drugs. Read more here.

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Current Events

SUPREME COURT SHAKE UP

Justice Kennedy Retires

 

 

President Trump receives 2nd Supreme Court pick with potential impact on America’s future.

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LAW OF THE LAND

Abortion
Racial Segregation
Gay Marriage

  • Examples of Supreme Court’s decisions that changed the course of America forever.
  • Justices serve 16 years on average, plenty of opportunity to weigh-in on cases that impact everyday lives of all Americans.
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Who is Justice Kennedy?

  • 81-year-old to retire at end of July.
  • Served 30+ years
  • Nominated by Pres. Reagan.
  • Arguably the most powerful member of SCOTUS – his moderate-conservative views often made him the “swing vote ” in hot-button cases.
  • Best known for 2015 ruling on constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
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Why Kennedy’s Vacancy Matters

  • Recent vacancies: Move comes a year after Kennedy’s former law clerk Neil Gorsuch took over late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat.
  • Close votes: Gorsuch & Kennedy were key votes in 2 controversial decisions this week, upholding Trump’s ‘travel ban’ & ruling against union’s ‘fair share’ fees. Both decisions were 5-4.
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Next Steps

  • Pres. Trump will name a nominee within weeks, setting in motion a process that could allow Senate confirmation by the time the court reconvenes in October.
  • Only a simple majority is required for confirmation. GOP leaders changed the rules when Gorsuch was being considered in order to get rid of the 60-vote procedural filibuster threshold.
Current Events

The President published a previous list of potential Supreme Court nominees. Interesting to note. Kennedy retires at the age of 81. Ruth Bader Ginsberg is 85. Stephen Breyer will turn 80 this year. Both "liberal" justices.

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Supreme Court Upholds Third Travel Ban

“An anxious world must know that our Government remains committed always to the liberties the Constitution seeks to preserve and protect, so that freedom extends outward, and lasts.”

Justice Kennedy
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Trump v. Hawaii

A divided (5-4) court ruled that travel ban #3 fits “squarely within the scope of Presidential authority” to regulate for national security, but stopped short of expressing a “view on the soundness of the policy.”

Ban restricts travel to the U.S. by people from 5 Muslim-majority nations (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen), N. Korea, & Venezuela.

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“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a tremendous victory for the American People and the Constitution.  The Supreme Court has upheld the clear authority of the President to defend the national security of the United States.”

President Donald Trump
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“The Proclamation is expressly premised on legitimate purposes: preventing entry of nationals who cannot be adequately vetted and inducing other nations to improve their practices. The text says nothing about religion.”

Chief Justice Roberts in the court's majority opinion on why the court was unconvinced that travel ban #3 (aka Proclamation No. 9645) was a pretext for discrimination against Muslims in violation of the Establishment Clause.
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“The United States of America is a Nation built upon the promise of religious liberty…. The Court’s decision today fails to safeguard that fundamental principle. It leaves undisturbed a policy first advertised openly and unequivocally as a ‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States’ because the policy now masquerades behind a façade of national-security concerns.”

Justice Sotomayor's dissenting opinion
Current Events

Despite travel ban, 809 waivers have been granted to those in banned countries. What does this mean for diplomatic talks with North Korea, a banned nation? Read More.

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