Control of Congress Rests on Handful of Critical Variables

It’s too early to make a definitive call on the midterm elections, but here are some key factors shaping the campaign landscape.

The Generic Congressional Ballot: This poll asks people which party they would support in a congressional election, without mentioning any specific candidate. So far, Democrats have a clear advantage. RealClearPolitics, a political polling and news aggregator, shows the party with an average lead of 9 points on the generic ballot, based on polling data dating back to January 2017.

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Tech Companies are Racing to Fix a Chip Bug, But Threats Will Linger

A major computer chip security flaw will continue to roil the tech industry for years to come. The problem affects a staggering amount of modern information technology around the globe, including PCs, smartphones and servers that run widely used cloud computing apps. The issue stems from processors from Intel, AMD and ARM, which are at risk of exposing sensitive data to hackers, such as passwords and encryption keys.

The vulnerabilities were discovered in June by security researchers at Google, who quickly reported it to the chipmakers and other hardware and software companies, prompting a rapid behind-the-scenes company response. The problem was made public on January 3 by the tech website The Register, causing tech firms, particularly Intel, to scramble to disclose more information. Continue reading “Tech Companies are Racing to Fix a Chip Bug, But Threats Will Linger”

North Korea’s Nuclear Drive will Upend Detente

2017 was a groundbreaking year for North Korea’s nuclear program. This year will bring more provocations intended to challenge the United States and bolster Pyongyang’s claim of being a full-fledged nuclear power.

Harry Kazianis, director of defense studies at the Center for National Interest, already dubbed 2018 “the year of the North Korean missile.” But North Korea’s next move is on hold while it engages in talks with South Korea to ease tensions ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics, which open in Pyeongchang, South Korea next month. Seoul and Washington suspended annual joint military exercises until after the Olympics as a sign of good faith.

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Iranian Protests Unlikely to Topple Anti-American Regime

Forecasting political developments in the Middle East is a fool’s errand—doubly so when the country is Iran.

On New Year’s Eve 1977, President Carter famously called it “an island of stability in one of the more troubled areas of the world,” only to watch revolutionary students hijack the U.S. embassy in Tehran a year later, holding 52 Americans hostage for 444 days and crippling his presidency.

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Trump Sets China in his 2018 Sights

Sino-American relations will take a turn for the worse in 2018, as the Trump administration makes good on its trade threats and North Korea undermines President Trump’s positive relationship with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.

Despite his long-held skepticism about China’s trade practices, Trump spent his first year in office trying to woo Xi—Beijing’s most powerful leader in decades—in hopes of convincing him to take a harder line on Pyongyang’s nuclear provocations.

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Key Technology Trends to Watch in 2018

As 2017 draws to a close, it’s time to look ahead to a new year in technology. Some of the key tech trends that bear watching closely in 2018 follow. We’ll be covering these topics—and many others—next year in our Alerts. As always, please send along any questions or comments about technology and I’ll do my best to answer. Continue reading “Key Technology Trends to Watch in 2018”

GOP Lawmakers Aim To Stave Off Government Shutdown

Lawmakers are again leaving town without making some tough decisions, punting numerous issues into the new year ahead of a midnight Friday deadline to keep the federal government open.

Given the disagreement among congressional Republicans—not to mention with Democrats—on everything from how much money to dole out to various agencies, to how to deal with foreigners illegally brought to the U.S. as children, GOP leaders have decided to leave Washington on a high note after passing their massive overhaul of the tax code. Continue reading “GOP Lawmakers Aim To Stave Off Government Shutdown”

Democratic Win Inadvertently Helps Republican ‘Wildcards’ Gain Clout

Republicans’ loss in this week’s special election in Alabama strengthens the hands of a cadre of independent-minded Senate GOPers.

Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Arizona’s Jeff Flake and John McCain, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Susan Collins of Maine, Tennessee’s Bob Corker and occasionally others have used the GOP’s tenuous 52-48 majority to their advantage, threatening to hold up major legislation unless they get certain concessions. Continue reading “Democratic Win Inadvertently Helps Republican ‘Wildcards’ Gain Clout”

Career Training Takes An Old Turn

Apprenticing, the way Ben Franklin and Paul Revere learned their trades, is making a comeback in the U.S. after many decades of being confined mostly to union halls in the construction trades. Interest in a more structured way to prepare young people for a career is growing, as 6 million unfilled jobs illustrate the gap between required job skills and educational preparation for those jobs.

College is not “one-size, fits all,” if it ever was. Only 23% who enter a two-year college program graduate, and only 60% of those entering a four-year school graduate within six years. While there are many good technical education programs at community colleges and private training schools, there has been a need for more structure and stronger employer involvement. Continue reading “Career Training Takes An Old Turn”

Trump Decision on Jerusalem Stokes Anger Throughout Middle East (Corrected)

Here’s a good rule of thumb for forecasting the Middle East: Things will get worse before they get even worse. And in this part of the world, things always seem to be getting worse. Not surprising when the region’s other great maxim is: “The enemy of my enemy can still be my enemy.”

Virtually every recent U.S. president has ignored this lesson at his peril: Bill Clinton saw his efforts to secure peace between the Israelis and Palestinians succeed, then fail miserably. George W. Bush got bogged down in a long, costly and politically divisive war in Iraq. Barack Obama discovered, among other things, that killing Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, did not spell the end of Islamic terrorism as a threat to the United States.

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