Francis Fukuyama famously declared that the triumph of liberal democracy and free markets after the Cold War heralded “the end of history.” Yuval Noah Harari now predicts the end of human history as post-Promethean science grants us godlike powers to redesign our own species and create a new one in the form of artificial intelligence. Only time will tell if his vision of the future is closer to the mark than Fukuyama’s, and if humans as we know ourselves today will even be around to witness it. As the Israeli historian says in a WorldPost interview, “Human history began when men created gods. It will end when men become gods.” Harari contends that a new mythic authority ― “dataism” ― is being born and that the algorithm is its patron saint. “Authority came down from the clouds, moved to the human heart and now authority is shifting back to the Google cloud and the Microsoft cloud,” he provocatively quips. “Data and the ability to analyze data is the new source of authority. If you have a problem in life, whether it is what to study, whom to marry or whom to vote for, you don’t ask God above or your feelings inside, you ask Google or Facebook. If they have enough data on you, and enough computing power, they know what you feel already, and why you feel that way.” The Homo Deus author has little doubt that dataism’s brave new dominance over our lives will be established willingly. “What will ram such a future through the wall is health,” he says. “People will voluntarily give up their privacy.” And while Harari acknowledges the dangers these developments could bring, he also sees the potential for a future that goes beyond the humanist literature that has historically warned us that transgressing natural limits invites catastrophe. “These are myths that try to assure humans that there is never going to be anything better than you. If you try to create something better than you, it will backfire and not succeed,” Harari says. But science is changing all that, he concludes. “Humans are now about to do something that natural selection never managed to do, which is to create inorganic life – AI. If you look at this in the cosmic terms of 4 billion years of life on Earth, not even in the short term of 50,000 years or so of human history, we are on the verge of breaking out of the organic realm.” For Fukuyama, the prime locus of history’s end was a Europe whole and free after the fall of the Berlin Wall. And as leaders mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the European Union through the signing of the Treaty of Rome, things don’t look so rosy. Writing from Brussels, Florian Lang worries that the Eastern European nations ― Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia ― that were some of the latest to join the EU in the wake of the Cold War “have not only throttled the speed of the European car but, also changed it into reverse gear” by promoting anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment and eroding civil liberties. Writing from Paris, Natalie Nougayrède warns that it is no exaggeration to say that the French republic is in danger in the upcoming elections as Marine Le Pen’s right-wing National Front sees recent advances in the polls. “France is today a deeply fragmented country,” the former editor of Le Monde says, “with no common national narrative driving it forward, no sense of direction, and a loss of trust in the political class. Wide gaps separate those who believe in openness and those who would prefer to erect walls on national borders. France’s upcoming presidential election is not just a battle for the Élysée Palace ― it amounts to a redefinition of a collective identity and a nation’s role in the world in the 21st century.” Even if Le Pen falls short at the polls as Geert Wilders did in last week’s Dutch elections, Cas Mudde writes that the swell of authoritarianism and nativism exemplified by leaders like Le Pen and Wilders isn’t confined to anti-establishment parties. “Under the cover of fighting off the ‘populists,’” he says, “the political establishment is slowly but steadily hollowing out the liberal democratic system.” Writing from Rome, populist Five Star Movement partisan Davide Casaleggio wants to dismantle the distant EU edifice and reboot democracy at the opposite end, from the bottom up at the grassroots. “People shouldn’t settle for delegation; they should be able to choose participation,” he argues. That can be done, says Casaleggio, through interactive technologies that enable citizens themselves to propose and deliberate legislation. At around 30 percent in recent national polls in Italy, the Five Star Movement may well have a chance to demonstrate if governance through social networks can supplant representative democracy and the Brussels bureaucracy. Back in the United States where Twitter dictates much of the new administration’s actions lately, Jennifer Mercieca notes the paradox of U.S. President Donald Trump’s “conspiracy rhetoric.” What he “uses to legitimize himself as president threatens the fragile trust that legitimizes his government,” she says. Looking at one issue continually threatening Trump’s trust in the public eye ― his connection to Russia ― Matthew Rojansky writes that as America focuses on the Kremlin threat at home, Moscow is filling the power vacuum in Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East. Our Singularity series this week reports on a short film that depicts moral philosophers debating the ethics of superintelligent AI in front of superintelligent AI. The Future of Life Institute’s Ariel Conn also focuses on superintelligent AI by examining its risk with leading researchers. One of the discussants, Roman Yampolskiy, calls on the principle of “non-zero probability” when answering how we should prepare for AI threats: “Even a small probability of existential risk becomes very impactful once multiplied by all the people it will affect,” he warns. “Nothing could be more important than avoiding the extermination of humanity.” WHO WE ARE EDITORS: Nathan Gardels, Co-Founder and Executive Advisor to the Berggruen Institute, is the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost. Kathleen Miles is the Executive Editor of The WorldPost. Farah Mohamed is the Managing Editor of The WorldPost. Alex Gardels and Peter Mellgard are the Associate Editors of The WorldPost. Suzanne Gaber is the Editorial Assistant of The WorldPost. Katie Nelson is News Director at The Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost’s news coverage. Nick Robins-Early and Jesselyn Cook are World Reporters. Rowaida Abdelaziz is World Social Media Editor. EDITORIAL BOARD: Nicolas Berggruen, Nathan Gardels, Arianna Huffington, Eric Schmidt (Google Inc.), Pierre Omidyar (First Look Media), Juan Luis Cebrian (El Pais/PRISA), Walter Isaacson (Aspen Institute/TIME-CNN), John Elkann (Corriere della Sera, La Stampa), Wadah Khanfar (Al Jazeera) and Yoichi Funabashi (Asahi Shimbun). VICE PRESIDENT OF OPERATIONS: Dawn Nakagawa. CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Moises Naim (former editor of Foreign Policy), Nayan Chanda (Yale/Global; Far Eastern Economic Review) and Katherine Keating (One-On-One). Sergio Munoz Bata and Parag Khanna are Contributing Editors-At-Large. The Asia Society and its ChinaFile, edited by Orville Schell, is our primary partner on Asia coverage. Eric X. Li and the Chunqiu Institute/Fudan University in Shanghai and Guancha.cn also provide first person voices from China. We also draw on the content of China Digital Times. Seung-yoon Lee is The WorldPost link in South Korea. Jared Cohen of Google Ideas provides regular commentary from young thinkers, leaders and activists around the globe. Bruce Mau provides regular columns from MassiveChangeNetwork.com on the “whole mind” way of thinking. Patrick Soon-Shiong is Contributing Editor for Health and Medicine. ADVISORY COUNCIL: Members of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council and Council for the Future of Europe serve as theAdvisory Council — as well as regular contributors — to the site. These include, Jacques Attali, Shaukat Aziz, Gordon Brown, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Juan Luis Cebrian, Jack Dorsey, Mohamed El-Erian, Francis Fukuyama, Felipe Gonzalez, John Gray, Reid Hoffman, Fred Hu, Mo Ibrahim, Alexei Kudrin, Pascal Lamy, Kishore Mahbubani, Alain Minc, Dambisa Moyo, Laura Tyson, Elon Musk, Pierre Omidyar, Raghuram Rajan, Nouriel Roubini, Nicolas Sarkozy, Eric Schmidt, Gerhard Schroeder, Peter Schwartz, Amartya Sen, Jeff Skoll, Michael Spence, Joe Stiglitz, Larry Summers, Wu Jianmin, George Yeo, Fareed Zakaria, Ernesto Zedillo, Ahmed Zewail and Zheng Bijian. From the Europe group, these include: Marek Belka, Tony Blair, Jacques Delors, Niall Ferguson, Anthony Giddens, Otmar Issing, Mario Monti, Robert Mundell, Peter Sutherland and Guy Verhofstadt. MISSION STATEMENT The WorldPost is a global media bridge that seeks to connect the world and connect the dots. Gathering together top editors and first person contributors from all corners of the planet, we aspire to be the one publication where the whole world meets. We not only deliver breaking news from the best sources with original reportage on the ground and user-generated content; we bring the best minds and most authoritative as well as fresh and new voices together to make sense of events from a global perspective looking around, not a national perspective looking out. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Women in UK get six weeks of ‘decently paid leave’, and only Ireland and Slovakia have a worse deal Britain is near the bottom of the European league for paid maternity leave, while Croatia, Hungary and the Czech Republic offer the most generous deals to female workers, according to the TUC.New mothers in the UK receive six weeks of what the TUC calls “decently paid maternity leave” – which it defines as two-thirds or more of previous earnings. Women in the UK are entitled to be off work for up to a year, but they are “decently paid” for a small part of that, says the TUC. Continue reading...
It will be a good idea to switch to foreign bank stocks instead. These companies, mainly operating in their home countries, are largely influenced by local economic growth.
Czech zoo takes saw to the horns of its 21 rhinoceroses in response to deadly attack at Paris wildlife park this monthA Czech zoo has started to remove the horns from its 21 rhinos as a precaution after the recent killing of a rhinoceros at a wildlife park in France by assailants who stole the animal’s horn. With rhino horns considered a wonder cure in Asia – for everything from cancer, colds and fevers to high blood pressure, hangovers, impotence and other ailments – poachers have killed thousands of the animals in Africa and elsewhere. Continue reading...
George Soros, friend and sponsor of all the colored revolutions around the world, is now being persecuted. It's probably because the US Stated Department stopped supporting him. As a result, several Eastern European countries pitched against George Soros and his Open Society Foundation.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will not attend a meeting of NATO foreign ministers next month, just the third time in the last 21 years that America’s top diplomat has skipped such a meeting.The State Department, which announced that Tillerson would skip the NATO meeting, said the secretary is expected to travel to Russia for meetings in Moscow and to Italy for a meeting of the G-7. The NATO meeting is scheduled at the same time as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s meeting with his U.S. counterpart at Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s private club in Florida.Tillerson’s absence from the event marks the first time that a U.S. secretary of state will skip such a meeting since 2003, when then-Secretary of State Colin Powell decided at the last minute not to attend.Tillerson, however, will attend a meeting with foreign ministers of NATO member countries on Wednesday. "Secretary Tillerson will meet with NATO member country foreign ministers from Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom when the Coalition to Defeat ISIS meets at the State Department," according to the State Department. That the U.S. secretary of state is opting not to attend the NATO meeting could potentially add fuel to already burning concern among other member nations that the Trump administration is less than fully committed to the alliance. Throughout much of his campaign last year, the president was critical of NATO and questioned the nation’s dedication to it, a positioned that irked not just other NATO allies but also politicians from both U.S. political parties.Trump has since taken a more conventional, supportive stance on NATO but has urged other member states to increase their defense spending up to the required two percent of gross domestic product. Nahal Toosi contributed to this story.
TRUMP goes to the Hill -- GOP using ‘sweeteners’ to get health care passed -- TILLERSON ramps up NATO meetings -- IVANKA to get West Wing office -- AMY SWONGER to Trump White House -- B’DAY: Ken Spain
Listen to Playbook in 90 Seconds http://bit.ly/2nNN951 ... Subscribe on iTunes http://apple.co/2eX6Eay ... Visit the online home of Playbook http://politi.co/2f51JnfGood Tuesday morning. THE WEST-WING MOMENT -- TRUMP goes to Capitol Hill for a 9:15 a.m. meeting with House Republicans. Trump is expected to talk health care reform. It’s unclear if he will address FBI Director James Comey’s testimony yesterday refuting Trump’s claims that President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. Or, if he will discuss Comey confirming that there is indeed an investigation into collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.WE’RE OLD ENOUGH TO REMEMBER … When House Republicans were against loading legislation with goodies at the last minute to smooth passage.-- “GOP leaders pile on sweeteners to sell Obamacare repeal: The revisions are part of a last-ditch effort to get the measure passed,” by Jen Haberkorn, Rachael Bade and Josh Dawsey: “Requested by President Donald Trump, the amendment includes perks for restive conservatives who wanted optional work requirements and block granting in Medicaid, as well as a potential olive branch to wary centrists who demanded more help for older Americans to buy insurance, POLITICO has learned. But it is still unclear whether the changes are enough to win over the 216 Republicans needed to pass the measure in a high-profile vote planned for Thursday. GOP leadership insiders and White House officials firmly believe the changes will corral the necessary votes. But several rock-ribbed conservatives emerged from a closed-door session Monday night vowing to vote against the bill, and bragging that they have the votes to block it.” http://politi.co/2nhkCHu -- “House Republicans Turn to Upstate New York to Lure Votes for Health Bill,” by NYT’s Thomas Kaplan and Robert Pear: http://nyti.ms/2nhA9Hf REMEMBER WHEN this week was supposed to be all about President Donald Trump’s health care bill and whether Speaker Paul Ryan could corral enough votes to get it passed Thursday? Just as Trump and Ryan seemed to have gotten their mojo going on health care, that was all but thrown out the window the minute Comey started testifying before the House Intel Committee.WHERE THINGS STAND -- “FBI’s Trump-Russia probe knocks White House on its heels,” by Shane Goldmacher and Matt Nussbaum: “The White House was knocked on the defensive ahead of its biggest week yet on Capitol Hill after FBI Director James Comey confirmed the existence of an active investigation into Russia’s meddling in the presidential election, including whether there was any coordination with now-President Donald Trump’s team. The dramatic revelation, made at a Monday hearing of the House Intelligence Committee, dragged the Trump administration yet again back into uncomfortable territory just as it had hoped to highlight the smooth rollout of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, who began his confirmation hearings across the Capitol on Monday.“In another blow to Trump, Comey and [NSA] Director Mike Rogers also publicly refuted his unsubstantiated claims on Twitter that President Barack Obama had ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower phones. The leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees had said last week that Trump’s allegations were untrue. ‘I have no information that supports those tweets, and we have looked carefully inside the FBI,’ Comey said.” http://politi.co/2nNeLHK--“FBI’s Russian-influence probe includes a look at far-right news sites,” by Peter Stone and Greg Gordon in McClatchy: “Federal investigators are examining whether far-right news sites played any role last year in a Russian cyber operation that dramatically widened the reach of news stories — some fictional — that favored Donald Trump’s presidential bid, two people familiar with the inquiry say. Operatives for Russia appear to have strategically timed the computer commands, known as ‘bots,’ to blitz social media with links to the pro-Trump stories at times when the billionaire businessman was on the defensive in his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton ... The bots’ end products were largely millions of Twitter and Facebook posts carrying links to stories on conservative internet sites such as Breitbart News and InfoWars, as well as on the Kremlin-backed RT News and Sputnik News, the sources said. ... Investigators examining the bot attacks are exploring whether the far-right news operations took any actions to assist Russia’s operatives.” http://bit.ly/2nZ5KubFLASHBACK -- “Obviously, we all understand the importance of this presidential race. I would just ask everybody this: Can this country afford to have a president under investigation by the FBI? Think of the trauma that would do to this country,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said at a campaign rally about Hillary Clinton on Nov. 1, 2016. (h/t Taegan Goddard) Video http://bit.ly/2nhrZ1g TOP TWEETS -- @carlbernstein: “I can state w/confidence that many intel members now decrying ‘leaks’ of classified info have themselves ‘leaked’ classified info knowingly” … Matthew Rosenberg (@AllMattNYT): “Folks, let’s take a step back and absorb the fact that the FBI has confirmed there is an espionage investigation involving the White House” … @RyanLizza: “At time of pivotal Comey letter on Clinton email, FBI had been investigating Trump campaign links to Russia for three months.”THIS AIN’T GOING AWAY -- “All eyes are on Paul Manafort,” by Ken Vogel, Josh Meyer and David Stern: “American and Ukrainian officials are pushing to question President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort in separate investigations related to his work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine once headed by that country’s disgraced former president Viktor Yanukovych. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) told POLITICO that Manafort ‘would certainly be at the top of my list to testify’ before the House Intelligence Committee's ongoing investigation into Russian meddling into the 2016 presidential election. … At the same time, an investigative department within a top Ukrainian law enforcement agency intends to ask the [DOJ] for help questioning Manafort about his possible relationship to Yanukovych during the 2014 riots that drove Yanukovych from power, according to Serhiy Gorbatyuk, the head of the department for special investigations within the General Prosecutor's Office of Ukraine.” http://politi.co/2n8zQ0NTRUMP AGONISTES -- “Trump’s Weary Defenders Face Fresh Worries,” by NYT’s Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman: “The problem, from the perspective of Mr. Trump’s beleaguered political fire brigade, is that the president insists on dealing with crises by creating new ones — so surrogates, repeating talking points the president himself ignores, say they often feel like human shields. Within the White House, a number of Mr. Trump’s advisers — including the press secretary, Sean Spicer, who has himself repeated unsubstantiated claims of British spying on Mr. Trump — have told allies that Mr. Trump’s Twitter habits are making their jobs harder, said administration officials interviewed over the past week. Mr. Spicer said he has no problem with his boss’s tweeting. ‘It’s just not true. I have not commented on the tweets to anyone including my wife,’ he said in an email.” http://nyti.ms/2mKXRYhSCOTUS WATCH -- “Gorsuch Tries to Put Himself Above Politics in Confirmation Hearing,” by NYT’s Matt Flegenheimer: “Judge Neil M. Gorsuch presented himself on Monday as a creature of consensus during a sharply partisan Supreme Court confirmation hearing, clouded throughout by the bitter nomination fight that preceded it over the past year. Democrats, seething from the hearing’s opening moments, made clear that they would not let the public forget about Judge Merrick B. Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee last year, whom Republicans refused to even consider at a hearing, saying the seat should be filled by the winner of the presidential election.“But when it was his turn, Judge Gorsuch reached often for comity during a well-practiced 16-minute speech, insisting that he favored no party above the law and appearing to brace for attacks from critics who have said his rulings tilt toward corporate interests. ‘I’ve ruled for disabled students, for prisoners, for the accused, for workers alleging civil rights violations and for undocumented immigrants,’ he told the Senate Judiciary Committee. ‘Sometimes, too, I’ve ruled against such persons.’” http://nyti.ms/2nvD0N5 … Gorsuch’s full testimony http://politi.co/2nWUhv5--JEFFREY ROSEN in The Atlantic, “A Supreme Court Nominee Alert to the Dangers of Big Business”: “While many conservative judges focus exclusively on the question of whether deals harm or benefit consumers, Gorsuch has suggested that combinations that give firms too much market power can be problematic for other reasons, such as discouraging competition. … [L]ike Republican and Democratic presidents and justices of the Progressive era, from William Howard Taft to Woodrow Wilson, he has challenged monopoly power by focusing on the importance of increasing competition and innovation as well as economic efficiency.” http://theatln.tc/2n8PnxNTILLERSON RAMPS UP MEETINGS WITH NATO MEMBERS -- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is meeting Wednesday with NATO member country foreign ministers from Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany Greece and Hungary. He will also meet with foreign ministers from Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom when the “Coalition to Defeat ISIS” meets at the State Department. He has already met with Ukrainian officials. WHAT TO WATCH FOR: After these meetings, Tillerson is heading to a meeting of the G7 in Italy in April, and then to meetings in Russia. TOM SHANNON will represent the U.S. at the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting.-- Tillerson’s packed meeting schedule comes as Reuters reported that he would miss the the April 5 and 6 NATO meeting in Brussels -- which could be seen as a major snub to U.S. allies -- so he can attend Trump’s meeting in the U.S. with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Reuters’ full report http://reut.rs/2nNgzjLTRUMP ON THE STUMP -- “Trump draws roars of approval in Louisville stop,” by the Louisville Courier-Journal’s Deborah Yetter: “President Donald Trump was met with thunderous approval on a campaign-style stop in Louisville Monday, offering a familiar blend of promises to restore jobs, cut taxes, rebuild the nation’s ‘crumbling infrastructure,’ strengthen the military and stop illegal immigration. ‘We will build a great border wall,’ he declared to cheers at a packed Freedom Hall in describing his plans to block Mexican immigrants. ‘We will stop radical Islamic terrorism.’ ‘We are going to drain the swamp of government corruption,’ he said. ‘We are going to keep our promises.’“But one of the biggest cheers of the night erupted when Trump promised to restore the nation’s struggling coal industry, which has hit Kentucky especially hard with job losses — a pledge most experts believe is unlikely because of an abundance of cheaper natural gas and the costs and pollution of coal. ‘We are going to put our coal miners back to work,’ Trump said. ‘The miners are coming back.’ And the Republican president pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act, his description of the federal health law as ‘a catastrophe’ drawing cheers in a state where it helped achieve one of the nation’s sharpest drops among people without health insurance by expanding coverage to more than a half-million Kentuckians.” http://cjky.it/2nZq0fn-- SHANE GOLDMACHER in Louisville: “On the precipice of the meatiest legislative fight of his young presidency, Donald Trump is increasingly talking about health care like the vegetables of his agenda -- the thing he must begrudgingly finish in order to get to what he really wants: tax cuts, trade deals and infrastructure. At a rally here … Trump time and again framed the passage of a repeal and replacement plan for President Obama’s namesake health care law as a necessary step to achieve the rest of his ambitious agenda.” http://politi.co/2nhhbAn -- IT’S IMPORTANT TO NOTE -- Trump had an opportunity to hit back on FBI Director James Comey and push back against the ongoing FBI investigation into collusion between Russia and his campaign. He did not.HAPPENING TODAY -- TRUMP will receive his daily intel briefing and sign S. 442, the NASA Authorization Act, this morning after his Capitol Hill visit. In the afternoon, Trump will host a "legislative affairs group" meeting. Trump will speak tonight at the NRCC March fundraising dinner at the National Building Museum.THE JUICE … -- CLUB FOR GROWTH is spending half a million on a “Reject Ryancare” ad (both TV and digital ads), urging members to oppose the Republican health care bill. The ads, which will run this week, are running in Reps. Leonard Lance (N.J.), Tom MacArthur (N.J.), John Katko (N.Y.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Rob Wittman (Va.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), Peter King (N.Y.), Charlie Dent (Pa.), Darrell Issa (Calif.) and Don Bacon’s (Neb.) districts. The ad http://bit.ly/2mPtfpt-- FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: AMY SWONGER will lead Senate legislative affairs for the Trump White House. Swonger, who starts Wednesday, previously worked for Heather Podesta and Partners and earlier in her career for Mitch McConnell and Trent Lott. Heather Podesta told us: “While it is bittersweet to see Amy leave the firm, she brings tenacity, savvy, and know-how to any team. The White House is lucky to have her.”-- MAJORITY TRUST DONORS Mike Smith, Amy Tejral, Tracy Spicer, Brian Griffin and Manny Ortiz raised more than $280,000 at a DSCC fundraiser Monday night at Cornerstone Government Affairs. More than a dozen senators, including DSCC Chair Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) attended the reception. ALSO ON THE INVITE: Josh Alkin, Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball PAC; Gael Sullivan, BNSF Railway PAC; Jenelle Krishnamoorthy, Merck PAC; Marshall Pierite, Tunica Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana; John Prible, UnitedHealth Group PAC; David Pryor, Microsoft PAC; Kevin Richards, SAP America PAC; Jamie Houton, Union Pacific Fund for Effective Government; Frank Voyack, Norfolk Southern Corp. Good Government Fund; Eloy Martinez of the American Gaming Association and Alexandra Veitch of CSRA. IT’S OFFICIAL -- We officially launched the Playbook Power Briefing, an afternoon update on what’s driving the afternoon in D.C. and beyond. We’re happy you can join us in these newsy times, and we want to make sure you know what you need to know for the second half of your day. We promise we’ll provide the same scoops, insight and must-reads as Playbook, just a bit shorter. The inaugural edition http://politi.co/2n1oWbHLAST CALL -- We are closing submissions Friday for our second Playbook “Power List” featuring the next generation of political up and comers. Thank you to everyone who has submitted names over the past couple of weeks. We’ve got our work cut out for us. And for any stragglers, please email [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected] by Friday COB. ALL IN THE FAMILY -- “Ivanka Trump set to get West Wing office as role expands: The first daughter will not, however, become a government employee, raising ethics questions,” by Annie Karni: “The powerful first daughter has secured her own office on the West Wing’s second floor — a space next to senior adviser Dina Powell, who was recently promoted to a position on the National Security Council. She is also in the process of obtaining a security clearance and is set to receive government-issued communications devices this week. In everything but name, Trump is settling in as what appears to be a full-time staffer in her father’s administration, with a broad and growing portfolio — except she is not being sworn in, will hold no official position and is not pocketing a salary, her attorney said. Trump’s role, according to her attorney Jamie Gorelick, will be to serve as the president’s ‘eyes and ears’ while providing broad-ranging advice, not just limited to women’s empowerment issues.” http://politi.co/2mPEPRi-- “Trump kids still bound by Carter-era ethics laws,” by Josh Gerstein: http://politi.co/2nFE9lZDRAIN THE SWAMP! “Trump wants to give federal workers a raise,” by WaPo’s Lisa Rein: “The Trump administration, after announcing plans to slash spending across much of the government, will recommend a 1.9 percent raise for federal workers to take effect in January, according to a budget document and a senior budget official.” http://wapo.st/2nhmq35MATT AND MERCEDES SCHLAPP PROFILE – “How two old-school Washington insiders became the cool kids of Trumpism,” by WaPo’s Ben Terris: “While other establishment conservatives have come around to Trump, the Schlapps’ early enthusiasm earned them a place in his circle of unofficial advisers. They speak nearly every day with someone at the White House — often, they say, Bannon or Priebus. Sometimes even Trump himself. Among the motley crew of outsiders and neophytes speaking up for Trump on cable news, the Schlapps stand apart. More than mere talking heads, they are experienced political operatives with gold-plated résumés, savvy networkers who have long known half of the District on a first-name basis and down both sides of the aisle.” http://wapo.st/2nvw5DRSAY WHAT? -- “Ban aimed at electronics in cabins of some U.S.-bound flights,” by AP’s Alicia A. Caldwell and David Koenig: “Seeking to bolster airline security, the U.S. government is temporarily barring passengers on certain flights originating in eight other countries from bringing laptops, iPads, cameras and most other electronics in carry-on luggage starting Tuesday. The reason for the ban was not immediately clear. U.S. security officials would not comment. The ban was revealed Monday in statements from Royal Jordanian Airlines and the official news agency of Saudi Arabia.“A U.S. official told The Associated Press the ban will apply to nonstop flights to the U.S. from 10 international airports serving the cities of Cairo in Egypt; Amman in Jordan; Kuwait City in Kuwait; Casablanca in Morocco; Doha in Qatar; Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia; Istanbul in Turkey; and Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The ban was indefinite, said the official.” http://apne.ws/2nFQt5xCOMING ATTRACTIONS -- “White House prepares sweeping review of trade deals,” by Josh Dawsey and Megan Cassella: “The White House is preparing to order a review of all U.S. trade deals, senior administration officials say, as they seek better terms and aim to fulfill a campaign promise from President Donald Trump. Trump is expected to sign an executive order on reviewing all trade deals, formalizing an administration pledge to reexamine all agreements between the United States and its trading partners. … ‘NAFTA is going to be at the top of the list,’ one senior administration official said.“An administration official said the White House is seeking to talk more about trade amid other damaging story lines. ‘We think it’s a place where the president can really shine.’ The executive order is largely symbolic for now, one official cautioned, but puts in place the movement to change the deals. That means a close examination of 14 agreements that are currently in place: two regional deals, one with North American countries and another with Central American countries plus the Dominican Republic; and a dozen bilateral deals with countries across Asia, South America, the Middle East and Australia.” http://politi.co/2mnSe7nFOR YOUR RADAR -- “U.K. Leader Now Faces Toughest Brexit Test Yet,” by WSJ’s Jenny Gross in London: “After a veteran fellow Conservative lawmaker was caught on camera in July referring to Theresa May as a ‘bloody difficult woman,’ she embraced the epithet, saying the next man to find that out would be the European Commission chief. … Britain’s second female prime minister is about to put that assertion to the test after the government announced it would trigger on March 29 the two-year window for negotiations with the European Commission and her EU counterparts for Britain’s exit from the European Union. “Relatively unknown internationally when she came to office last July, Mrs. May, 60 years old, has earned a reputation as a steady, studied operator who holds her cards close to her vest. She heads into divorce talks advocating a tough approach. … The issue is whether her uncompromising style and her background as an immigration- and security-focused home secretary will give her the expertise she needs to for delicate diplomacy on matters of trade and finance with European leaders such as Angela Merkel.” http://on.wsj.com/2nNCEi7SUSAN GLASSER PODCAST – “Is Russiagate a Conspiracy Theory? Masha Gessen weighs in on Putin, Trump and what we should really be afraid of”: “Author and journalist Masha Gessen has emerged as a perceptive, prolific—and not at all predictable—analyst of the two presidents as American politics has been consumed by the investigations surrounding the Russian hacking of the U.S. election and whether Trump and his team might have colluded with it. ... Gessen, who says her family’s traumatic experiences in the upheavals of the 20th century in the Soviet Union gave her the ‘catastrophic imagination’ so many Americans lack, now worries not as much about a new Trump-Putin grand bargain selling out our allies as about a falling out between the two tough-guy leaders. In other words, ‘a nuclear holocaust.’ ‘The danger,’ she says, ‘of having these two unhinged, power-hungry men at their respective nuclear buttons cannot be overestimated.’” http://politi.co/2nZ4A22DEEP DIVE – GARRETT GRAFF in Wired, “Chasing the Phantom: Inside the Hunt for Russia’s Most Notorious Hacker”: http://bit.ly/2nhCS3c VALLEY TALK -- “Uber plays the hero for some immigrant drivers caught up in travel ban,” by San Jose Mercury News’ Marisa Kendall: “Uber has kept a promise it made in January to help drivers caught up in the travel ban. The company, which vowed to put $3 million toward the effort, has provided free legal help, U.S.-bound plane tickets and other support to hundreds of drivers and their family members affected by the executive order that barred immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries. So far, Uber has reunited 26 drivers with family members they were separated from under the ban, flying a total of 68 people to the U.S. Nearly 500 drivers have reached out to Uber for legal help and support, and the company said it was still receiving requests last week.” http://bayareane.ws/2mKE2AqMEDIAWATCH -- “Fox News pulls Judge Napolitano over his Trump wiretap claims,” by L.A. Times’ Stephen Battaglio: “Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano is being kept off the air indefinitely amid the controversy over his unverified claims that British intelligence wiretapped Trump Tower at the behest of former President Obama. Fox News did not respond to inquiries about Napolitano’s status Monday. Napolitano was conspicuously missing from the network’s coverage of the confirmation hearings on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch — an event in which he typically would have played a significant role. He has not been on the air since Thursday. People familiar with the situation who could speak only on the condition of anonymity said Napolitano is not expected to be on Fox News Channel any time in the near future. Napolitano was not available for comment.” http://lat.ms/2nvhrwa-- BROOKE BROWER, former long-time MSNBC staffer and executive producer for Chuck Todd’s “Daily Rundown” and “Meet the Press Daily,” is joining CNN Politics as managing editor. Brower currently works as senior producer for CNN’s political unit. “His arrival will allow two invaluable team members, Zach Wolf and Steven Sloan, to devote themselves to new roles,” CNN’s Rachel Smolkin wrote in an email to staff. “Zach will continue to oversee programming and also will run our expanding quick-takes and data visualization teams, key growth areas this year. Steven will oversee our long-form enterprise (we’ll share more on that initiative soon).”JOE AND MIKA Q&A – “MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski on Trump and Why ‘Everyone’ Should Ban Kellyanne Conway From TV,” by Variety’s Brian Steinberg: http://bit.ly/2mmzEfv#THISTOWN -- “Time, People pull out of WHCD party,” by Hadas Gold: “Time and People magazine will not hold their glitzy, celebrity-filled party the night before the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, the magazines confirmed. The move follows several other high profile parties being canceled for the annual event, during which the Washington media, politicians, and often celebrities gather to celebrate journalism awards, scholarships and normally to toast the president. … Time will still attend the dinner, while People will be making a donation to the White House Correspondents’ Association in lieu of tables at the dinner, a spokesperson said. ‘This year we have decided to focus on supporting the White House Correspondents Association, which plays a crucial role in advocating for the broadest possible access for the press at the White House,’ Alan Murray, Time Inc. chief content officer said in a statement.” http://politi.co/2mIr4TTTIM ALBERTA PROFILE -- “Brighton, MSU grad now among ‘most-respected’ young reporters in D.C.,” by Livingston Daily’s Laura Colvin: http://bit.ly/2mL1MVj --Kimberly Leonard is joining the Washington Examiner as a health-care reporter; she previously was at U.S. News & World Report. http://politi.co/2n8RykS PLAYBOOK POOL UPDATE -- The standings are tight as we head into the Sweet 16. Joe Incollingo (Massachusetts) has 108 points and has called 42 of 48 (88 percent) games correctly, Unfortunately, he also picked Villanova to win it all. Alexandra Acker-Lyons (California) currently shares the top spot on the leaderboard with 108 points, with an 85 percent success rate, and she picked UNC to win it all. Chicago’s WGN Host, Roe Conn, is also tied for 1st with 108 points and an 83 percent success rate and has Purdue picked to win the Championship. Over on the VIP board, Conn sits in the top spot, but ABC’s Jon Karl is close behind with 104 points, followed by a three-way tie for 3rd place between POLITICO President Poppy MacDonald (prize ineligible), California State Treasurer John Chiang, and Cook County Illinois Commissioner Jesus Garcia. California’s John Burris, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Charlie Spies, Chicago Alderman Ricardo Munoz, and former Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady are within eye shot. Our next update will be once the Final Four is determined. http://bit.ly/2n2XbztSPORTS BLINK -- “NCAA TOURNAMENT 2017: 16 THINGS TO KNOW HEADING INTO THE SWEET 16,” by Bleacher Report’s Kerry Miller: http://ble.ac/2mPvmJW .@LaraLeaTrump & I are excited to announce that we are adding a boy to #TeamTrump in September. It's been an amazing year. We are blessed! A post shared by Eric F. Trump (@erictrump) on Mar 20, 2017 at 9:09am PDTSPOTTED -- PETE ROUSE walking down Wisconsin Avenue in Glover Park, on his cell phone, rocking an Obama 2012 fleece … Michael Steele eating tacos at a table in the window yesterday night at Tortilla Coast on the Hill.TRANSITIONS -- BRIAN WORTH is joining tech lobbying shop Franklin Square Group as a partner. Worth, who most recently worked as Uber’s GOP lobbyist, previously served as coalitions director for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and in President George W. Bush’s Small Business Administration. http://politi.co/2n6OSV0-- Chris Donahoe, former director of member outreach and communications for the Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has joined Edelman’s D.C. office. He will be part of Edelman’s growing financial communications and capital markets practice.OBAMA ALUMNI – JOSH LIPSKY, an Obama White House and State Department alum, is heading to the International Monetary Fund, where he will serve as speechwriter and advisor to IMF chief Christine Lagarde. In January, Lipsky finished a tour at State working as special advisor to Rick Stengel, who was under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs.BIRTHWEEK (was yesterday): Arthur Scott, associate legislative director and political outreach manager for NACO -- he celebrated yesterday at the Arlington DMV renewing his driver’s license (h/t girlfriend Abbi Stuaan) ... (was Saturday): Joe Dougherty, director of comms at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and alum of Rand Corporation and Heritage, turned 52 (h/t Phil Hegseth)BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Ken Spain, partner at CGCN Group, the pride of Whittier, Calif. and a Koch Industries and NRCC alum. His wife Emily organized a small dinner with friends on Saturday night at one of his favorite D.C. restaurants, Fig and Olive. Read his Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2n8Rema BIRTHDAYS: Jonah Goldberg is 48 … WaPo’s Ed O’Keefe and Amy Joyce ... Fred Fielding, Reagan and Bush 43 White House counsel now at Morgan Lewis, is 78 ... Andrew Brown, DNC technology director ... Elizabeth Hines ... Lauren Rethmeier (daughter of Blain and Caton) ... Brian Ellner, Edelman’s EVP for public affairs ... Matt House, comms. director for Senator Schumer, is 31 ... Dan Wilson, VP of Mercury, and a rare D.C. native, growing up blocks away from Politics and Prose, is 34 … John Galloway, executive director at Future44 and Obama WH alum ... Sharon J. Castillo, Pfizer’s director of media relations for Latin America and USGR and former Bush-Cheney ‘04 national Hispanic spokeswoman … Dana Martin, head of product at Elementum in Silicon Valley, is 33 ... Jeff Foreman, director of policy for Care for the Homeless ... Kaitlyn Shimmin, former personal aide to Karl Rove ... PCCC duo: co-founder Adam Green and alum Kayla Wingbermuehle … Matt Gerson, Tracy’s Kids founder (charity that helps kids with cancer), former Universal Music exec now building a public affairs practice, celebrating with Susan ... Andrew Bleeker, president and founder of Bully Pulpit Interactive (h/ts Jon Haber) … former Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) is 57 ... Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) is 51 ... ... Sophie Theis of the International Food Policy Research Institute ... Issa alum Jason Scism … Ross Kyle, COS at Van Scoyoc Associates and a Bush alum ... Michelle Franco, senior account executive at Text100 and Blue Engine alum ... Sarah Keep, digital project manager at 270 Strategies and a Tammy Duckworth alum … James “Jimmy Mac” McMaster … former Bush 43 FEMA COS Patrick Rhode is 48 (h/t Ed Cash) ... Lisa Caplan ... Teresa Skala … Mike Collins, RNC and NRCC alum ... Dina Rasor ... Chris Stuard … Sayeh Tavangar ... Nicole Bohannon (h/t Teresa Vilmain) ... Devin Nagy ... ITA’s John C. Kalitka ... Alex Spillius, a media consultant and former diplomatic and Washington Correspondent for The Daily Telegraph ... Teresa Skala ... Scott Raab, policy adviser for Leader McConnell ... Katie Malone, special assistant for Rep. Elijah Cummings ... Talin Sardarbegians of Rep. Julia Brownley’s office ... Eric Stecklow of Rep. Ami Bera’s office ... Jason Steadman of Sen. Burr’s office (h/ts Legistorm) … Gary Oldman is 59 ... Matthew Broderick is 55 ... Rosie O’Donnell is 55 ... Kevin Federline is 39 (h/ts AP)
Diplomats and businesses from the Czech Republic, the U.S., the UK, France and Germany will come to Russia’s northern city of Salekhard to participate in the eighth international forum of the low-numbered indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East, which is due on March 23-25, press service of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District said on March 20. "We shall welcome representatives of the Arctic Council’s secretariat of indigenous peoples, of the Association of World Reindeer Herders (WRH), the International Center for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR)," the press service said. "We also expect diplomats from Azerbaijan, the U.S., the United Kingdom, France, the Czech Republic, as well as businesses from Iceland and Germany." Spend a day in the Yamal tundra: On the move with deer herders The forum participants will discuss aspects of the northern reindeer husbandry, "as well as the regions’ cooperation at organizations like the Northern Forum, the Arctic Council, the Arctic University, as well as at the Association of indigenous low-numbered peoples of the North, Siberia and Far East," the government said. "Discussions will be devoted to keeping traditional skills, measures for access to land, forest and water biological resources, regulations of indigenous peoples’ activities and responsible use of natural resources." More than 500 people will attend the forum. Yamal will be represented by 35 people of indigenous ethnic groups: Nenets, Khanty, Selkup and Komi. At the forum, the Association of the indigenous peoples will have its congress to elect new leaders for a new four-year term. The Association unites representatives of 41 peoples from Russia’s 44 regions. About 250,000 people in Russia are of indigenous peoples. About 42,000 representatives of the indigenous peoples live in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District. Almost 17,000 of them live nomadic lives, and are involved in fishing and reindeer husbandry. Source: TASS
Series: CP1120CZM086NEST, Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices: Accommodation Services for Czech Republic©
Updated: Mar 16, 2017
Series: CP0941CZM086NEST, Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices: Recreational and Sporting Services for Czech Republic©
Updated: Mar 16, 2017
Zoo deems danger to animals from poachers to be ‘really intense’, with black market rhino horn selling for more than gold or cocaineA Czech zoo has said it will use a chainsaw to remove the horns from its herd of rare rhinos after a brutal attack last week in a French zoo where poachers shot dead a white rhino and hacked off its horns.“It’s for the sake of rhino safety,” Andrea Jirousova, spokeswoman for the zoo in the central Czech town of Dvur Kralove nad Labem, said. Continue reading...
Taking the recent escalation in global conspiracy theories, according to which such and such president is a Manchurian Candidate of this or that foreign power, to their next comedic level, on Friday the Czech Republic’s conservative Euroskeptic president, Milos Zeman, declared that he is an agent of not only Putin, but also various other leaders and nations, during a press conference where he announced his intention to run for a second term. Speaking in Prague, Zeman launched his 2018 re-election campaign, and during the televized event vowed not to change his controversial conservative platform, which includes prioritizing Czech interests over pan-European ones. Zeman has often been at odds with the government of Social Democrat Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, which has been a supporter of Brussels on issues like anti-Russian sanctions and immigration. Though largely a figurehead like in many other European states, with limited executive authority in the Czech Republic, Zeman, who won the office in 2013, remains one of the country’s most popular figures, especially in the villages. Among other policies frowned upon by Brussels, he has advocated nurturing closer ties with Russia and China, supporting Israel, and limiting the inflow of asylum seekers from Muslim nations. Czech President Milos Zeman, Reuters When asked by a Russian TV channel whether he was concerned about being branded a Russian agent, Zeman - who like Trump has been accused of having a pro-Russian bias by the local press - satirized the Czech media for criticizing his position on Moscow. “I am an agent of Russia, and particularly of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin” he declared, speaking in Russian. “I should add that I am also an agent of the Chinese President. Lately also of the new American President. I am an agent of Israel, which I have been supporting all this time.” On a more serious note, he then clarified by saying that, in reality he is the agent of only one country, the Czech Republic Zeman said media criticism was among the factors that had prompted him to seek re-election. “Each of their attacks encouraged me more to run. Thank you, Czech media,” he explained. As RT adds, the only other contender for the presidency is businessman and writer Michal Horacek, who has launched a campaign with the slogan “We can do better.” Zeman will name the country’s next prime minister before he leaves office. Sobotka’s Social Democrats are running an uphill battle against their ruling coalition rivals, the ANO movement of billionaire Finance Minister Andrej Babis. In taking a page out of the Trump playbook, Babis' campaign is based on rooting out corruption and running the country like his business, an idea that resonates favorably with many voters. Sobotka, who won the party’s leadership on Friday, argues that Babis dislikes democracy and has conflicts of interests. Zeman may favor Babis over Sobodka to form a new coalition government, if neither party wins a majority of parliamentary seats in October.
WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland's ambition to be central Europe's leader within the EU suffered a humiliating blow when Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic defied its call to block the re-election of Donald Tusk as European Council president.
TOP CAPITOL HILL CHAIRMEN GO to the White House -- HEALTH CARE UPDATE: House looks better than the Senate -- WHAT MCCONNELL TOLD US -- WH launches nationwide health care push
Listen to Playbook in 90 Seconds http://bit.ly/2msTK6m ... Subscribe on iTunes http://apple.co/2eX6Eay ... Visit the online home of Playbook http://politi.co/2f51JnfGood Friday morning. From our Morning Money colleague Ben White: The February jobs number is out today. “It’s the first report that will cover employment gains made entirely during Donald Trump’s presidency. Trump is clearly gearing up for it with a tweet Wednesday celebrating the 298K ADP jobs number.”PALM BEACH POST FRONT PAGE: “Trump mansion sale spurs Russia intrigue: Oligarch paid $95M, but evidence lacking that he lived in or inspected site” A1 PDF http://bit.ly/2m79msT … Story http://bit.ly/2lKtO7m AT 1600 PENN -- PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP is meeting with House chairmen involved in repealing and replacing Obamacare. The participants: VP Mike Pence, Budget Chairman Diane Black (R-Tenn.), Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Education and Workforce Chairman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) and Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).-- BEHIND THE SCENES: In the House, practically no one knew what this meeting was about -- including people close to the participants, leading to a couple of head-scratching phone calls with us Thursday evening. The two main committees -- Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce -- have passed the legislation, so it’s a touch late for a strategy session. But a White House source said it’s a thank you to the chairmen that guided the repeal and replace process. They also want to draw attention to the fact that the bills sailed through committee unopposed by Republicans -- which the administration says has not gotten the attention it deserves. WHERE HEALTH CARE STANDS -- Top vote-counters in the House say they think the health-care replacement legislation will get through their chamber. It won’t be easy -- and it won’t be pretty -- but they believe they’ll squeeze it through. But there’s increasing skepticism that it can get through the Senate. During his newsy Playbook Interview Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reminded us that the legislation will be subject to unlimited amendments when it hits the Senate as part of the reconciliation process, practically ensuring it will be changed. If this bill blows up, Trump has signaled he’ll blame Democrats, who are expected to stand in unified opposition to the legislation. But that might not work. Republicans say it’s on Trump to make this thing work. -- MAGGIE HABERMAN and ROBERT PEAR on A1 of the NYT: “After Halting Start, Trump Plunges Into Effort to Repeal Health Law”: “There are East Room meetings, evening dinners and sumptuous lunches — even a White House bowling soiree. Mr. Trump is deploying the salesman tactics he sharpened over several decades in New York real estate. His pitch: He is fully behind the bill to scotch President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement, but he is open to negotiations on the details. In so doing, Mr. Trump is plunging personally into his first major legislative fight, getting behind a bill that has been denounced by many health care providers and scorned by his base on the right. If it fails, Mr. Trump will find it difficult not to shoulder some of the blame.” http://nyti.ms/2msHPpm -- “Budget referee may call foul on Obamacare repeal,” by Rachana Pradhan: “The fate of Obamacare may lie in the hands of a number-crunching Republican appointee whose bottom line might single-handedly blow up the GOP quest to repeal and replace it. Congressional Budget Office Director Keith Hall was handpicked two years ago by top Republicans in Congress -- including now Health and Human Service Secretary Tom Price -- to lead a nonpartisan office that will soon release its estimate of how many Americans the Republican health care bill will cover and whether it shrinks or balloons the federal deficit. With the House repeal bill under attack by Republican moderates worrying about coverage and conservatives fuming about entitlements and spending, the CBO assessment will matter. It’s widely expected early next week.“Hall, in the post for two years, has already signaled that his office won't soft-pedal the coverage assessments. If a health plan doesn't have comprehensive benefits, it won't count as coverage. Fearing a bad CBO ‘score,’ Republicans facing backlash in their drive to gut Obamacare are turning the budget agency and its team of professional economic analysts into a punching bag as they try to discredit it.” http://politi.co/2nlDa6f We expect a CBO score by MondayTHE NEXT FIGHT -- “Conservatives want to blow up Senate rules to kill Obamacare,” by Elana Schor and Jen Haberkorn: “House Republican leaders narrowly tailored their Obamacare repeal bill to avoid violating Senate rules, but conservatives are pushing back with advice of their own: Tear up the rule-book. A growing number of conservative lawmakers on Thursday urged GOP leaders to push the limits of how much of the health law they can reshape under a powerful procedural maneuver known as budget reconciliation — and to overrule the Senate parliamentarian if she doesn't decide in their favor.“Such a gambit would require the unlikely buy-in of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a noted institutionalist who earlier this year avoided talk of changing his chamber's rules to kill the ability to filibuster Supreme Court nominees. If the Senate changes precedent for what can be passed under reconciliation now, a future Senate — whether controlled by Republicans or Democrats — could enact a wide range of legislation with only a simple majority.” http://politi.co/2n6gYRjALWAYS BE SELLING -- “White House pushes party officials nationwide to mobilize on health overhaul,” by Alex Isenstadt: “Facing mounting roadblocks on Capitol Hill, the White House is pleading with political supporters across the nation to pressure congressional Republicans to support President Donald Trump's health care overhaul. During a national conference call Thursday evening, White House political director Bill Stepien told Trump backers and national Republican Party officials to pressure members of Congress to support key planks of the president’s agenda -- notably his plan to replace Obamacare. ‘To continue the progress that's being made -- specifically on the court, and specifically on Obamacare -- [Trump] really needs your help,’ Stepien said on the call, which lasted nearly 20 minutes. ‘We need to do this as a team.’” http://politi.co/2mq5lRXWHERE’S REX? -- “Mexican foreign secretary goes straight to the White House, skips usual channels,” by LA Times' Tracy Wilkinson: “Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray met [Thursday] at the White House with President Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner, along with National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Gary Cohn, a top financial aide, the Mexican government announced. Striking in its absence from that announcement was any mention of a meeting with officials from the State Department … [W]hen asked whether any sessions were scheduled at the State Department, the spokesman, Mark Toner, said he didn’t know Videgaray was in town. … Later, however, Videgaray himself explained that he had spoken by telephone to Tillerson the night before to let him know he was arriving in Washington.” http://lat.ms/2n5wP2mHMM -- “Authorities looked into Manafort protégé: An associate of an ex-Trump campaign chairman is suspected of connections to Russian intelligence,” by Ken Vogel and David Stern: “U.S. and Ukrainian authorities have expressed interest in the activities of a Kiev-based operative with suspected ties to Russian intelligence who consulted regularly with Paul Manafort last year while Manafort was running Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. The operative, Konstantin Kilimnik, came under scrutiny from officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the State Department partly because of at least two trips he took to the U.S. during the presidential campaign ... Kilimnik, a joint Russian-Ukrainian citizen who trained in the Russian army as a linguist, told operatives in Kiev and Washington that he met with Manafort during an April trip to the United States. And, after a late summer trip to the U.S., Kilimnik suggested that he had played a role in gutting a proposed amendment to the Republican Party platform that would have staked out a more adversarial stance towards Russia, according to a Kiev operative.” http://politi.co/2m6r7IMCOMING ATTRACTIONS -- “Treasury calls on Congress to raise debt limit, begins steps to delay default,” by WaPo’s Damian Paletta: “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday began taking “extraordinary measures” to delay the U.S. government from defaulting on its obligations, as he called on House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) to lift the debt ceiling ‘at its first opportunity.’“Mnuchin, in a letter to Ryan, said Treasury was now suspending the sale of certain state and local securities, a practice the federal government normally performs to assist with tax policies. Treasury will soon likely suspend payments to certain pension funds as it tries to delay, as long as possible, falling behind on other payments. Eventually, though, it will run out of options and not have enough money to pay its bills. ‘As I said in my confirmation hearing, honoring the full faith and credit of our outstanding debt is a critical commitment,’ Mnuchin wrote to Ryan. ‘I encourage Congress to raise the debt limit at the first opportunity so we can proceed with our joint priorities.’” http://wapo.st/2lKfBay … The letter http://bit.ly/2n6vAAc BORDER WARS -- “Number of immigrants caught at Mexican border plunges 40% under Trump,” by L.A. Times' Jenny Jarvie in Atlanta: “The number of immigrants caught by Border Patrol agents as they attempt to cross the Southwest border has plunged dramatically, dropping 40% since President Trump took office and signed sweeping executive orders to enforce immigration laws. About 840 people a day were caught trying to cross the border or deemed inadmissible after presenting themselves at a port of entry in February, down from about 1,370 a day in January, according to new figures released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.“Although there are often seasonal fluctuations -- fewer immigrants usually attempt to cross the border from Mexico into the U.S. in winter -- Border Patrol agents typically see a 10% to 20% surge of people making the journey in February. Already, Trump’s supporters and leading members of his administration are celebrating the new data as an early payoff of the new president’s strident stance on illegal immigration.” http://lat.ms/2nmbnCD MITCH MCCONNELL sat down with us for a live Playbook Interview Thursday, sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. The Kentucky Republican made plenty of news on issues ranging from health care to politics. McConnell had some advice for his fellow Republicans as they begin the health-care debate. “When you have a president of a different party, you can freelance all you want to. You know, go have press conferences, you guys show up with a 10-point plan to do this or that,” McConnell said. “But now we have an actual chance to change the country. We have somebody who will sign legislation that we pass. We need to get into a governing mode and start thinking about actually achieving something rather than just kind of sparring.” McConnell also talked about his confidence that SCOTUS nominee Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed by April 7. Other nuggets:-- TAX REFORM WON’T BE DONE BY AUGUST: “As you and I were discussing before we came in here, there are some constraints here … We have two reconciliations to do. We have to get the one we’re going to use for health care out of the way before we go to the second one. I share your view that finishing on tax reform will take longer. But we do have to finish the health care debate, up or down, win or lose, before we go to taxes.” Video http://politi.co/2mOzux1 -- MEXICO WON’T PAY FOR THE WALL: “Well, I’m in favor of border security. There are some places along the border where that’s probably not the best way to secure the border. But I think General Kelly knows what he’s doing. I think the president picked an outstanding person to be in charge of homeland security and my suspicion is we will take his advice.” WILL MEXICO PAY?: “Uh, no.” Video http://politi.co/2msHUJB -- MCCONNELL ON STEVE BANNON: “WE BEAT HIM EVERYWHERE”: When Bannon, now the White House chief strategist, ran Breitbart, he tried to take down Senate Republicans -- including McConnell. The majority leader said bygones are bygones. “I’m happy. I won. I won every one of them. And he got a new job. He should be happy too.” Video http://politi.co/2mqzlNP -- ON 2018: “What I say to my colleagues and Sen. [Cory] Gardner, who is running the committee: ‘Let’s not fall in love with the map.’ The map is good … But the single biggest determinant of the outcome of an election two years into a new administration is what kind of shape the administration is in.” Video http://politi.co/2mOACRg HAPPENING TODAY -- TRUMP will call Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, have lunch with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and meet with HUD Secretary Ben Carson. THE JUICE … -- PRIORITIES USA, the big-time Democratic outside group, has a new polling memo with polling data from the early days of the Trump administration. “President Trump’s ratings are net negative, but his base is keeping him afloat … Voters are hearing good news about Trump on the economy, while they perceive real weaknesses across other areas, especially Russia, leadership, and integrity. … Trump is vulnerable on the economy because voters believe he looks out for the interests of the wealthy and corporations, and progressives must leverage that to show how his economic policies are failing regular people.” The memo http://politi.co/2lKcn6V -- JOHN KERRY has signed a book deal. AP’s Hillel Italie: “Kerry, 73, has signed with Simon & Schuster, the publisher told The Associated Press on Thursday. The book, a memoir covering his life from childhood through his recent time as secretary of state, does not yet have a title or release date. … Kerry met with several publishers about the book, for which financial terms were not disclosed. He was represented by Robert Barnett, the Washington attorney who recently worked on book deals for Clinton and for Barack and Michelle Obama.”-- NORM EISEN, the Obama administration ethics czar and former ambassador to the Czech Republic, has signed a contributor deal with CNN.THE PLAYBOOK POOL: POLITICO Playbook is gearing up for college tournament time with our very own bracket challenge. Our Playbook outposts across the country (D.C., N.Y., N.J., Massachusetts, Florida, Illinois, California) are co-hosting the PLAYBOOK POOL – a bracket challenge where you can face-off against your friends, top Playbookers, and political insiders. Track who’s up and down after each round in Playbook as you compete to win prizes including Amazon Echoes and Dots (where you can listen to the Playbook flash briefing), BEATS headphones, Snapchat Spectacles and more. You’ll be able to create your bracket starting March 12 when the brackets are released on Selection Sunday eve.TRUMP, INC. -- “With Trump in White House, His Golf Properties Prosper,” by NYT’s Eric Lipton and Susanne Craig: “It is a golden age for golf — at least as far as the Trump Organization is concerned. On Memorial Day weekend, the Senior P.G.A. Championship will be held at the Trump National Golf Club in suburban Washington. In July, the company’s course in Bedminster, N.J., is hosting another major event, the United States Women’s Open. The company is also bidding to host the Scottish Open or a half-dozen other possible professional tournaments at courses it owns in spots around the world from Miami to Dubai. “‘The stars have all aligned,’ Eric Trump, who as executive vice president of the Trump Organization oversees all its golf properties, said on Thursday morning, while sipping an iced tea at the restaurant inside the Trump International Hotel before appearing at a promotional event for the Memorial Day tournament. ‘I think our brand is the hottest it has ever been.’ What he did not mention at the news conference, while the cameras were rolling, is the product placement of incalculable value that is helping boost the Trump Organization’s golf courses: his father.” http://nyti.ms/2lKpZ2l HEADLINE OF THE DAY -- TIMES OF ISRAEL: “Rejecting Purim spiel, Putin tells Netanyahu to stop dwelling on past”: “Russian President Vladimir Putin told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop living in the past Thursday, after the Israeli premier tried to tie tensions with Iran to an upcoming Jewish holiday about a thwarted genocide of Jews in ancient Persia. In a meeting with Putin in Moscow, Netanyahu said Persia had made ‘an attempt to destroy the Jewish people that did not succeed’ some 2,500 years ago, an event commemorated through the Jewish holiday of Purim, which Israel will celebrate starting Saturday night and lasting in some places until Monday.“‘Today there is an attempt by Persia’s heir, Iran, to destroy the state of the Jews,’ Netanyahu said. ‘They say this as clearly as possible and inscribe it on their ballistic missiles.’ Adopting a conciliatory tone, Putin said that the events described by Netanyahu had taken place in the fifth century B.C.’ ‘We now live in a different world. Let us talk about that now,’ Putin said.” http://bit.ly/2msRuvQ SUPERCUT -- @MattNegrin: What “Sean Spicer doesn’t know” http://bit.ly/2m6e2zmTHE SHABBAT MYTH -- “Shabbat’s not the reason Trump tweets on Saturdays,” by Annie Karni: “The prevailing narrative about when President Donald Trump launches his most reckless tirades involves the absence of the two people viewed as the great moderating influences in his life: his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner. The couple are Orthodox Jews who observe the Sabbath, which runs from sundown Friday until sundown on Saturday -- the time when Trump has been most likely to go off-leash….“‘I think it’s a very foolish assumption to say that in some way, people in the Trump administration wait until the Sabbath so they can make decisions that otherwise, other members of the Trump administration might weigh in on,’ said [Rabbi Haskel] Lookstein, rabbi emeritus at the Kehilath Jeshurun congregation on Manhattan’s Upper East Side [and who oversaw Ivanka Trump’s conversion to Judaism in 2009]. ‘I think it’s playing around with religious behavior,’ added Lookstein, who remains close enough to Kushner and Ivanka Trump that they invited him to deliver the invocation at the Republican National Convention last summer -- an opportunity he ultimately declined. ‘The way in which I believe Jared Kushner and Ivanka observe the Sabbath is they observe it together with their children,’ he said. ‘They’re disconnected—but anything could be discussed.’” http://politi.co/2mIm3yn NEW AXE PODCAST – David Axelrod interviewed SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CALIF.) http://cnn.it/2n63AwJFOR YOUR RADAR -- “South Korean court throws president out of office, 2 dead in protest,” by Reuters’ Joyce Lee and Cynthia Kim in Seoul: “South Korea's Constitutional Court removed President Park Geun-hye from office on Friday over a graft scandal involving the country’s conglomerates at a time of rising tensions with North Korea and China. The ruling sparked protests from hundreds of her supporters, two of whom were killed in clashes with police outside the court. Park becomes South Korea's first democratically elected leader to be forced from office, capping months of paralysis and turmoil over a corruption scandal that also landed the head of the Samsung conglomerate in jail.” http://reut.rs/2mOokbuCLICKER -- “All of Trump’s Russia Ties, in 7 Charts,” by Michael Crowley http://politi.co/2n6mpQe GOOD QUESTION -- “With Trump in White House, Some Executives Ask, Why Not Me?” by James B. Stewart in his NYT “Common Sense” column: Stu “Loeser now runs his own strategic consulting firm, and told me he has clients who are business executives considering a run for high public office. ... Boldface corporate names widely discussed as contenders for the next Democratic presidential nomination include chief executives like Howard Schultz of Starbucks, Robert A. Iger of Disney and Marc Benioff of Salesforce.com, along with Sheryl Sandberg ... and Oprah Winfrey ... All deny they’re running, or even seriously considering it. But everyone demurs so far ahead of the first primaries, as did Hillary Clinton four years ago, and it hasn’t stopped anyone from speculating.” http://nyti.ms/2ms9DKoPETER THIEL WATCH -- “Palantir’s Man In The Pentagon,” by BuzzFeed’s William Alden: “Palantir Technologies has an important new ally inside the military establishment, with one of the company’s own lobbyists being appointed to a top Pentagon job where he will have the ear of Defense Secretary James Mattis. ... Justin Mikolay, a Palantir insider ... has been hired by the Trump administration as a special assistant to the defense secretary ... Mikolay, 37, worked for Palantir for four years as an ‘evangelist,’ according to his LinkedIn profile, meaning he met with government officials to sell Palantir’s software.” http://bzfd.it/2m9fXnBFORTUNE'S 100 BEST COMPANIES TO WORK FOR: Top 10: "Google, Wegmans Food Markets, Boston Consulting Group, Baird, Edward Jones, Genentech, Ultimate Software, Salesforce, Acuity and Quicken Loans." The full list http://for.tn/2msW4dJ BEYOND THE BELTWAY -- “Schwarzenegger for Senate?,” by Carla Marinucci in San Francisco: “Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger -- the ‘Terminator’ action hero who made ‘I'll be back’ one of filmdom's most iconic phrases -- may be mulling a political comeback, according to several GOP political insiders in California. The prospect of Schwarzenegger’s return to elected politics in a 2018 U.S. Senate run -- possibly as an independent -- is generating increasing buzz in state Republican circles, fueled by the former governor’s seeming ability to get under the skin of President Donald Trump on social media. … His entry into the 2018 Senate race -- when Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein would be 85 years old and up for re-election -- ‘would give Arnold the stage to jam Trump for the next 16 months,’ according to one veteran GOP strategist who spoke on condition of anonymity.” http://politi.co/2ncX0RI-- “NC Senate leader Phil Berger changes news headlines on Facebook posts – violating the site’s policy,” by Raleigh News and Observer’s Colin Campbell: “Visitors to Senate leader Phil Berger’s official Facebook page might have thought this headline appeared in The News & Observer: ‘Has Roy Cooper flip-flopped on HB 2? Gov. Cooper now refusing to support men in women’s bathrooms.’ But that headline never appeared in the newspaper or on its website. The real headline on the news story: ‘In HB2 repeal effort, Gov. Cooper is silent on proposed nondiscrimination law.’ The person managing Berger’s page used a little-known Facebook tool to change the headline on the article being shared, making it appear that the headline was written by the news organization. A typical user of Facebook can’t make such a change, but a manager of a professional or group page can.” http://bit.ly/2m6ebTq-- “Hey Coastal Elites, Don’t Dis ‘Flyover Country – Fund It,” by Wired’s Issie Lapowsky: “Former AOL CEO Steve Case is bringing together Republicans and Democrats at a summit in DC at the end of the month — called ‘Rise of the Rest.’ ‘There’s a reason they feel left behind. They kind of have been left behind,’ Case says about Americans who aren't seeing the economic benefits of the digital revolution. ‘Some of the disruption funded in places like Silicon Valley is destroying jobs in other parts of the country.’” http://bit.ly/2n6019HPLAYBOOK’S SUBJECT LINE A YEAR AGO TODAY – “TRUMP: ‘At the right time, I will be so presidential that you’ll call me and you’ll say, “Donald, you have to stop that”’ http://politi.co/1TOpqPbNEW POLITICO PRO feature -- Our defense reporters track some of the most politically dynamic defense programs and policy fights in regularly updated briefings highlighting legislative action, budget documents and key influencers in government and the private sector in Defense Program Watch. http://politico.pro/2mpKAGf ... Sign up for alerts here http://politico.pro/2n5Ox62MEDIAWATCH -- “‘Game Change’ Authors Writing Book About ‘Trump the Man’ and His Campaign,” by NYT’s Alexandra Alter: “[P]enguin Press announced that it had acquired their latest book, which will explore Mr. Trump’s striking and unexpected rise to the presidency. The book has also been purchased for a mini-series on HBO, which turned ‘Game Change’ into an original movie, with Julianne Moore as Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska and Ed Harris as Senator John McCain. Like ‘Game Change,’ the new mini-series by HBO Films will be directed and executive produced by Jay Roach, and executive produced by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman of Playtone Productions. “[Mark] Halperin, who has covered eight presidential campaigns, insisted there was plenty of fresh material. ‘Trump in particular, as much as he’s covered and has been covered, in some ways he’s an undercovered figure, in terms of Trump the man, and that’s one of the things we’re going to do with the book,’ he said. [John] Heilemann added, ‘We’ll be looking at all the big unanswered questions of the race, some of them are obvious, some of them are less obvious, but of course we’re interested in breaking news.’ The book is scheduled to be published in early 2018.” With a Q&A http://nyti.ms/2msUt7F -- MSNBC has a new “This is who we are” ad running. It’s inspired by Andrea Mitchell. http://on.msnbc.com/2mD2nffDATA DU JOUR -- per the NYT: “Since its inception on Feb. 3, The New York Times’s ‘sponsor a subscription’ program has collected enough contributions to grant more than 1.3 million students across the U.S. free and unlimited access to NYTimes.com. More than 15,500 individual contributions have ranged from as little as $4 to, in one case, $1 million (from an anonymous donor).”SPORTS BLINK -- “NFL abuse of painkillers and other drugs described in court filings,” by WaPo’s Rick Maese: “National Football League teams violated federal laws governing prescription drugs, disregarded guidance from the Drug Enforcement Administration on how to store, track, transport and distribute controlled substances, and plied their players with powerful painkillers and anti-inflammatories each season, according to sealed court documents contained in a federal lawsuit filed by former players. The sealed material, which was reviewed by The Washington Post, provides a rare look into the league’s relationship with drugs and how team doctors manage the pain inherent in a bruising sport to keep players on the field.” http://wapo.st/2lKwgefSUNDAY SO FAR – NBC’s “Meet the Press”: HHS Secretary Tom Price ... Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio). Panel: David Brooks, Helene Cooper, Stephanie Cutter, Rick Santelli-- “Fox News Sunday”: Gary Cohn, Rep Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). Panel: Jason Riley, Julie Pace, Michael Needham, Juan Williams--CNN’s “State of the Union”: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) ... Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). Panel: former Sen. Rick Santorum, Neera Tanden, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.)-- CBS’ “Face the Nation”: Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Political panel: Ezra Klein, Indira Lakshmanan, Peter Baker and Avik Roy-- ABC’s “This Week”: OMB Director Mick Mulvaney … Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). Panel: Rich Lowry, Jamal Simmons, Kristen Soltis Anderson, Katrina vanden HeuvelSPOTTED -- Eric Trump on a Thursday flight from DCA to Ft. Lauderdale … at the Trump hotel bar last night: Lynn Patten, Katrina Pierson, Matt Mowers, Coalter Baker, Ryan Williams, Craig Stevens, Joseph Uddo ... Jeremy Irons yesterday buying a dress for his wife at the clothing shop Hampel Katalin in Budapest, where he’s filming a movie ... Wolf Blitzer wrapping up dinner at Cava Mezze, then taking a leisurely stroll down Barracks Row with two friends.--SPOTTED at the Verizon Center for Northwestern’s second round Big Ten Tournament win over Rutgers: Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) buying a beer for Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), just two rows below Julia Louis-Dreyfus, whose son is on the Wildcats. Also at the game: Peter Alexander, former Obama speechwriter Cody KeenanOUT AND ABOUT -- Juleanna Glover, Carol Blue and Josef Palermo hosted a party last night at Carol’s house to celebrate Jamie Kirchick’s new book, “The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age.” $19.63 on Amazon http://amzn.to/2lKb5cf SPOTTED: Andrew Sullivan, Michael Barone, Norm Eisen, Ken Weinstein, Tom Mallon, John McConnell, Ben Schreckinger, Ambassador of Monaco Maguy Maccario Doyle, Ambassador of Kosovo Vlora Çitaku, Julia Ioffe, Eli Lake, Michael Wilner, Josh and Ali Rogin, David Satter, Jonathan Rauch, Rep. Ken Buck, Ben Jacobs, Betsy Woodward, Tim Mak, Kevin Chaffee, Muath al-Wari and Jamie’s proud parents Carol and Bill. --SPOTTED at a surprise birthday party for Matt Bravo, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s floor director, at Stanton and Greene: Derrick Dockery, Eric Zulkosky, Bart Reising, Kelley Hudak, Kelly Dixon, Shuwanza Goff, Parker Poling, Mike Shields with the House Homeland Security Committee, Rick Limardo, Chadwick Carlough, Brett Quick, Patrick Wilson, Mike Ference, and the hostess with the mostest, Summer Bravo with Xcel Energy.--SPOTTED last night at NBC’s Andrew Rafferty 30th birthday party at the Kingfisher bar: Chris Maloney, Nick Kalman, Jordan Frasier, Jenna Sakwa, Ryan Laughna, Ryan Reilly, Igor Bobic, Dave Weigel, Sahil Kapur, Niels Lesniewski, Justin Green, Ariel Cohen, Evan McMorris- Santoro, Sabrina Siddiqui.TRANSITIONS -- Meghan Apfelbaum is leaving digital advocacy firm Salsa Labs. She’s heading to Hustle, the firm best known for handling Bernie Sanders’ text-message based outreach. She will head up client management ... Hope Goins has been named minority staff director for the House Committee on Homeland Security. ... Kathy Kraninger is now a senior exec at OMB covering DOT, DHS and DOJ. She previously was at Senate appropriations.OBAMA ALUMNI: James Cadogan, a member of former Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s senior management team, has been named inaugural director of the Thurgood Marshall Institute at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund ... Melanie Newman, former director of public affairs at DOJ, is joining the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in a new position as chief public engagement and communications strategist. http://bit.ly/2nb9k50 -- Peter Boogaard is now FWD.us’s communications director. He was the deputy assistant secretary for public affairs at DHS before taking over as the communications point person on immigration for the Obama White House.BIRTHWEEK (was Tues.): Bloomberg’s star commodities and agriculture reporter Lydia Mulvany, the pride of Ottawa, Illinois, who studied philosophy before going into journalism.BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Jon Haber, president of Cascada Strategy, Georgetown adjunct professor and alum of Leahy, Feinstein, Kennedy and OPIC (and champion birthday hat-tipper) – he’s celebrating with dinner at home with his family. “It doesn’t get better than that.” – read his Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2nm7GNc BIRTHDAYS: Perri Peltz ... Brad Dayspring, Politico VP of global comms and the pride of Pompton Lakes, N.J. … Matt Jessee, policy advisor at Bryan Cave Strategies ... Bill Nichols … Vernon Loeb, managing editor of the Houston Chronicle and WashPost alum ... Jim Sciutto, CNN’s chief national security correspondent ... John Murray, former Cantor comms guru and public affairs lead at Monument Policy Group (h/t Stewart Verdery) ... Ron Elving, NPR’s senior editor/correspondent on Washington Desk ... Thomas McGill ... Politico’s Nicole Adams ... Carrie Filipetti, director of portfolio management at the Paul E. Singer Foundation ... Randy White ... Sarah Coppersmith, VP at Scott Circle (h/ts birthday boy Jon Haber) ... record producer Rick Rubin is 54 ... CNBC’s David Faber is 53 ... Wayne L. Firestone, CEO of DC-based International Lifeline Fund (h/ts Jewish Insider) … Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh (h/t Sean Johnson) ... Alyse Nelson, president and CEO of Vital Voices ... Jean Cornell ... Stuart Spencer, a Louise Slaughter alum and Rules Committee alum ... Adam Weinstein ... Deloitte’s David Lau ... Adam Bodily, who has worked on four consecutive presidential campaigns, starting with 43 in ’04, two Romneys and a Kasich ... Portman alum Colin Coletti ...... Amy Weiss, CEO of Weiss Public Affairs … Kevin McKeon, DCCC alum now SVP at Putnam Partners … Wei Soo, co-founder and director of legal and new markets at Global Citizen, is 35 (h/t Kindred Motes) ... Credit Suisse’s Murong Yang ... Nicole Guillemard, founder and president of Eureka Strategies Group and former Bush WH national Hispanic spokesperson ... NYT’s Danny Hakim … Ed Hooper ... Ashley Summers … Christie Roberts, DSCC research director and a Jon Tester alum ... Chris Corcoran, senior adviser to Louisville Mayor Jim Gray and an OPOWER alum … Amy Dorcy … Josh Johnson ... Dwane Bennett ... Mike Callahan, supervising producer for national security at CNN ... Joel Gravely ... Emily Schultze ... WashPost Live’s Alex Treadway, a Daily Caller alum ... Cary Hatch, CEO of MDB Communications ... Victor Pickard ... OFA alum Simeon Talley ... Henry Doggett … Margaret McEntire ... David Kass (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) ... actor Chuck Norris is 77 ... Britain’s Prince Edward is 53 ... Jon Hamm is 46 ... Robin Thicke is 4-0 .... Carrie Underwood is 34 (h/ts AP)
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, the so-called Benelux countries, invited Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia for talks in the Netherlands on the future of the European Union, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.
A total of 146,585 Russian citizens returned to Russia in 2016. Of these, around 30,000 came from EU countries, Izvestia reports (in Russian), citing the Interior Ministry. The Foreign Ministry confirmed that more compatriots are returning as part of a government program to assist voluntary repatriation. Around one-third of returnees cite political motives, including serious pressure and harassment from the government and media in their former host countries, Izvestia reports. “The level of Russophobia in Prague reached such a level that cars with anti-Russian banners were seen in the streets, and you could be reprimanded in public for speaking Russian,” Natalia, a former art gallery director in Prague, told Izvestia. “The intense hatred of Russia was the main reason why I decided to return home after 19 years in the Czech Republic.” Yan, a Russian who lived in Paris for over 20 years, spoke about his experience in France. “When you belong to a group that is subjected to constant pressure you tend to defend your ethnicity or country more vigorously, and your patriotism skyrockets. There comes a certain point, however, when you just get tired of fending off attacks, and you decide to return to your true home.” Others cited economic motives. “I realized that my chances of finding a job were significantly limited in Germany as compared to Russia,” said Ishkhan, who returned to Russia after 12 years in Munich and Berlin. Read more: Kremlin seeking to repatriate children of Russia’s elite, say reports>>>
In an effort to prevent meddling by Russian hackers, the Dutch government has decided not to use computers during the upcoming parliamentary elections. According to Politico, on Mar. 15, nearly 13 million Dutch citizens will go to 9,000 polling stations to vote for their preferred candidate. To do so, they will mark paper ballots by pencil, after which all the votes will be counted manually. So far, there is no information on how long this will take. The decision not to use computers for fear of cyber attacks was made following accusations that Russia attempted to influence the results of the U.S. presidential election in 2016. This year, elections will also be held in France and Germany, where concerns about cyber attacks have also been raised. So far, however, the measures taken by the Netherlands to protect its elections from hackers have been the most drastic. Rising tensions "There should be no shadow of a doubt about the reliability of the results of the election, especially in the current political climate," Dutch Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk said in February. "At the moment, we cannot trust electronic systems during voting," he added. France, which will hold presidential elections this spring, is also concerned about a possible threat from Russian hackers. Both France and the Netherlands have candidates who are considered pro-Russian: Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders, respectively. Wilders has been routinely referred to in the European press as “the Dutch Trump." Was Trump lured into a Russian 'honey trap'? Authorities in the Netherlands are not only concerned that election results could be influenced by cyber attacks. There have also been reports that the computers and email accounts of some Dutch politicians may have been hacked. In early February, the head of the Dutch intelligence service, Rob Berthole, said that Russia had been involved in hundreds of cyber attacks on the country’s state structures that were aimed at stealing classified documents. "I consider this to be a threat to our democracy. The danger is that they (the hackers) will be able to influence the work of the parliament and the authorities’ decision-making process," Berthole said. He went on to add that he did not intend to take any measures since Russia would deny everything. At the time, the official spokesperson of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, described the accusations leveled by Western countries against Russia as a "flash mob." "This flash mob is gaining more and more new members. The list of those who have been noticeable recently includes Canada, Norway, Great Britain, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Estonia. Listen, we don’t have that many hackers, really," she said. Lack of information security The Dutch government has voiced concerns about possible cyber attacks before. In 2006, a software vulnerability was detected in voting systems, which led the country to ban electronic voting. Voters had to cast their votes the old-fashioned way by filling out paper ballots, although computers were still used to process the data. Ten years later, the Netherlands is still unable to fully protect its electronic infrastructure and has decided not to use computer-assisted vote counting. In January, representatives the Hague Security Delta (HSD), a European security cluster, offered free IT support and lectures on information security for politicians and the Dutch government. A similar initiative was also launched by the Dutch company RedSocks Security. However, according to reports, this offer did not generate much interest and received almost no response from government officials. First published in Russian by Gazeta.ru. Read more: Everything you wanted to know about Russian hackers, but were afraid to ask
OECD Statistics Directorate While differences in average longevity, or life expectancy, between countries are well-documented, inequalities in longevity within countries are less well-understood and are not fully comparable beyond a handful of European countries. A recent OECD working paper (Murtin et al., 2017) fills this gap by analysing inequalities in longevity by education and gender […]