US officials preparing plans to deploy thousands more troops to the Middle East amid Iranian tensions
- WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon on Thursday will present plans to the White House to send up to 10,000 more troops to the Middle East, in a move to beef up defenses against potential Iranian threats, US officials said Wednesday.
- The officials said no final decision has been made yet, and it's not clear if the White House would approve sending all or just some of the requested forces.
- They said the troops would be defensive forces, and the discussions include additional Patriot missile batteries, more ships and increased efforts to monitor Iran.
- CNN first reported that the Pentagon will brief the White House on a plan that could send thousands of additional US troops to the Middle East.
- There were no injuries and no group claimed responsibility, but the rocket was believed to have been fired from east Baghdad — which is home to Iran-backed Shiite militias.
Jeremy Allaire's Circle Lays Off 10% of Staff amid Prickly US Regulation
- By CCN: Bitcoin has been booming lately, but Circle, the parent company of crypto exchange Poloniex, announced yesterday afternoon that about 30 employees are leaving as part of “organizational changes.” Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire cited an increasingly burdensome regulatory environment in the United States as part of the impetus for the move.
- Today we made organizational changes at Circle and eliminated approximately 30 positions, which is about 10% of our employees.
- We made these changes in response to new market conditions, most importantly, an increasingly restrictive regulatory climate in the United States.
- Most of the employees laid off are reportedly leaving Circle’s New York and Boston offices.
- Remember when Circle would allow you to purchase/sell #Bitcoin using your debit card …yeah, you guys scrapped that a few years ago.
- The company no longer allows debit card purchases of bitcoin, while its primary competitor Coinbase does.
Senate AI Bill for $2.2 Billion for a Five Year National AI Strategy
- In February, the Trump administration released a national artificial intelligence strategy that called on agencies to ramp up investments in AI research and explore other ways to advance the tech across society.
- However, the plan included few specific policy proposals and no additional funding to support those efforts, which drew criticism across the tech community.
- In March 2019, Senators Heinrich and Portman announced the formation of the bipartisan Senate Artificial Intelligence (AI) Caucus to address transformative technology with implications spanning a number of fields including transportation, health care, agriculture, manufacturing, and national security.
Tensions rise between Pompeo and Bolton
- Washington (CNN) - As national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo jockey for influence amid a variety of pressing international concerns, including Iran, North Korea and Venezuela, there is growing tension between the two men, four people familiar with the matter say.
- Multiple sources tell CNN that Bolton's more calculating methods have rubbed Pompeo the wrong way and caused him to feel that Bolton is overstepping the role of national security adviser and infringing on his turf as the country's top foreign policy official.
- During a recent debate over how to handle North Korea, Bolton left Pompeo off messages he sent to the CIA that included a list of questions he wanted answered, according to a source in the intelligence community.
Can Huawei fight back against its trade ban?
- Unlike similar actions in the past, Trump’s order gives the Commerce Department broad power to stop any foreign players in a massive industry from doing business with American companies.
- Presidents declare national emergencies for a multitude of reasons, so giving the Commerce Secretary the power to block trade is “not an unreasonable” use of an executive order.
- Instead of stepping in over a single transaction or company acquisition, the executive order effectively blacklists Huawei, as well as any information technology company deemed a potential threat in the future.
- Usually, if the US sees a potential national security threat in a transaction, it takes a more targeted, narrow approach: he points to actions under the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which is used to examine transactions and is more focused than the powers the executive order gives.
New York leads coalition of states suing Trump admin over health care discrimination
- Washington (CNN) - New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Trump administration, arguing that a new regulation would let health care providers discriminate and refuse care to patients based on religious or moral beliefs.
- The lawsuit is yet another example of Democratic-led states stepping in to protect health care provisions that the Trump administration aims to gut.
- Democratic attorneys general have banded together in an attempt to defend the Affordable Care Act in federal court against a lawsuit in which GOP-led states are seeking to have the law invalidated.
- The rule, which would go into effect in July, "drastically expands the number of providers eligible to make such refusals, ranging from ambulance drivers to emergency room doctors to receptionists to customer service representatives at insurance companies," according to the release.
A majority of American voters think they're better off under Trump, but they still don't like him, according to a new poll
- A new poll released by Quinnipiac University highlights the paradox of Donald Trump's presidency: a majority of American voters think they're better off under Trump, but they still don't approve of him.
- The discrepancy could have something to do with Trump's approach to issues like foreign policy and trade.
- According to the poll, 58% of voters disapprove of Trump's handling of foreign policy, and 47% disapprove of US policy toward Iran; 53% of voters disapprove of his handling of trade, and 50% disapprove of his approach toward China.
- Moreover, 48% of voters say Trump's trade policies are bad for the US economy, and 44% say they're bad for their individual financial situations.
- He has long championed an effort to build a wall along the US southern border with Mexico, but according to a January Gallup poll, a solid majority of voters (60%) oppose the proposal.
Saudi Arabia and Israel are pushing US to confront Iran. Trump shouldn't take the bait
- The Trump administration's unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and its campaign of maximum economic pressure on Iran has ushered in a period of uncertainty that leaves both sides in a potentially dangerous cycle, each taking escalatory steps that increase the odds of a military conflict, particularly in the absence of a direct channel for deescalation.
- In successfully helping to persuade the Trump administration to leave the nuclear deal in 2018, Saudi Arabia and Israel took care of their own needs and interests.
- Far from taking coherent steps to combat Iran's influence in the region, the reckless policies of MBS, the de facto architect of Saudi foreign policy, has expanded Iran's influence, not contracted it -- all with the help of the Trump administration.
Housing Secretary Ben Carson confused a basic foreclosure term for the name of a cookie in congressional testimony
- WASHINGTON — Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson became confused about a basic real estate term during a testimony in front of a congressional panel on Tuesday, asking if the congresswoman questioning him was referring to "Oreo" cookies.
- During a hearing hosted by the House Financial Services Committee, California Rep. Katie Porter, a Democrat, asked Carson if he is familiar with REOs, the abbreviation for real-estate owned.
- Carson has ran the department since 2017, where he has largely avoided controversies and gaffes, despite reports early on about large expenditures from his office on furniture and other items like a $31,000 dining set.
- Many hearings have become tense as probes of various Trump administration officials have ramped up in recent months.
- As for Carson, he is primarily dealing with frustrated Democrats at odds with the Trump administration's handling of his department.
FDA safety scandal: 50K hidden reports of heart device malfunctioning
- The Food and Drug Administration allowed the maker of a faulty implantable heart device to secretly log 50,000 malfunction incidents, according to a series of investigations by Kaiser Health News.
- Many of those patients have since faced the ghastly choice of learning to live with the faulty device or undergoing an invasive, risky—sometimes deadly—surgery to remove it.
- According to the KHN investigation, they’ve been making that choice without information from the 50,000 incident reports.
- Malfunction reports for devices like the Spring Fidelis are typically recorded in a public-facing FDA database called MAUDE (Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience).
- However, the agency quietly set up an “alternative summary reporting” repository and for decades granted reporting exemptions for a wide variety of medical devices.
- Since 2016, the FDA’s repository accrued at least 1.1 million reports of incidents and injuries overall from malfunctioning medical devices, KHN found.