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Friday, January 19, 2018

Recent assaults by tactical teams on prototypes of President Donald Trump's proposed wall with Mexico indicate their imposing heights should stop border crossers, a U.S. official with direct knowledge of the rigorous assessment told The Associated Press. Military special forces based in Florida and U.S. Customs and Border Protection special units spent three weeks trying to breach and scale the eight models in San Diego, using jackhammers, saws, torches and other tools and climbing devices, said the official. Carlos Diaz, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, said the agency is still in "the testing phase" and that results are being evaluated. He said combining elements of different prototypes instead of picking a winner is consistent with previous statements by officials. He noted that the agency said in its bidding guidelines that a minimum height of 18 feet (5.4 meters) would be a key characteristic. He said he did not have additional details on test results. read more


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

An exchange-traded fund that tracks companies that support President Donald Trump and the Republican Party is beating the stock market, according to Hal Lambert, founder and managing director of Point Bridge. The MAGA ETF, which launched on Sept. 6, has gained about 13.7 percent as of Friday's close. That compares with a return of nearly 11.3 percent for the S&P 500 over the same period. The fund uses Federal Election Commission data and screens components in the S&P for companies whose campaign contributions from employees and political action committees donate significant money to support Republicans running for office. "These are all based on political contributions of companies in the S&P 500. It's the top political contributors to Republicans," Lambert said Monday on CNBC's "Squawk Box." "It's about 21 percent industrials, it's about 20 percent financials and about 17 percent oil and gas." read more


Monday, January 15, 2018

Alexander Hamilton wrote to Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton on September 6, 1780, two months before their marriage. According to a mid-19th century publication of the Hamilton papers, the letter was entirely about a battle of the Revolutionary War and begins: "Most people here are groaning under a very disagreeable piece of intelligence just come from the southward, that Gates has had a total defeat near Camden, in South Carolina." In the mid-20th century, Columbia University history professor Harold C. Syrett published the Hamilton papers again. In Syrett's edition the same letter begins: "I wrote you My Dear Betsey a long letter or rather two long letters by your father." The "disagreeable piece of intelligence" from South Carolina starts at paragraph two. Syrett also includes the end of the letter, excluded by John Hamilton, where Hamilton apologizes: "Pardon me my love for talking politics to you. What have we to do with any thing but love?" read more


The precise extent of human-induced climate change is unclear, but the basic science is unequivocal, as is the danger it poses to the United States. This threat comes from the direct impact of climate change on agricultural production and sea levels but equally importantly from the huge waves of migration that climate change is likely to cause, on a scale that even the world's richest states and societies will be unable either to prevent or accommodate. The Trump administration has recently decided to remove climate change from the list of security threats to the United States under its new National Security Strategy (NSS). Going forward, the most urgent and important task facing climate change activists in the United States is to persuade the U.S. national security establishment of the mistakenness of this decision. read more


Mark Nutsch and Bob Pennington, Army Green Berets, were assigned to help Afghan fighters take back their nation from the Taliban during the weeks after the 9/11 attacks on the United States. One thing no one thought about, though, was how to get around the mountainous terrain of northern Afghanistan. The locals, it seems, rode horses. With limited previous riding experience 12 members of the 5th Special Forces Group's Operational Detachment Alpha 595 survived painful saddles, bad-tempered horses, wary allies, harsh elements and an overwhelming enemy force to help defeat the Taliban in less than two months. They earned fame as the Horse Soldiers, memorialized in a statue overlooking ground zero at Liberty Park in New York. Now, 17 years later, their story -- or a fictionalized piece of it -- is told in 12 Strong, a major Hollywood movie opening in theaters Jan. 19. read more


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