Shannon Vavra

Chuck Schumer and Donald Trump aren't speaking

Evan Vucci / AP

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and President Trump spoke about a dozen times before Trump took the oath of office, but haven't met one-on-one or even spoken over the phone since January 20, according to Politico. Even in the midst of Trumpcare's explosion in the House, Trump did not approach Schumer.

Tonight, that silence might end when Trump hosts Schumer and other senators at the White House for a reception.


Dunkin' Donuts and Waze will order your coffee

Mike Mozart via Flickr CC

Boston is gearing up for a mass descent on drive thru lines: Google's Waze, the traffic navigation app, is teaming up with Dunkin' Donuts to order coffee for drivers before they arrive at brick and mortar stores, according to The Boston Globe.

If this goes well, Waze will expand the "order ahead" function to other merchants.

The partnership: Waze doesn't earn a commission on the Dunkin' Donuts sales, but Dunkin' Donuts is increasing the amount it spends on Waze ads. To place an order, users will need both the Waze and the Dunkin' Donuts apps installed and be registered with the Dunkin' loyalty program.

Why it matters: Brand loyalty for Dunkin' and Waze. Note, Starbucks had a similar partnership announced last week with Amazon's Alexa and Ford vehicles. The Dunkin' Donuts-Waze partnership allows anyone — not just Ford drivers with Alexa — to take advantage, but will bring people time and time again to both Waze and Dunkin'.


Trump's public broadcasting cuts would hit rural Americans hardest

Todd Huffman via Flickr CC

Rural Americans would be most affected by Trump's proposal to pull funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the CEO Patricia de Stacy Harrison testified before a House Appropriations Subcommittee Tuesday. That's because more than 65% of the CPB's federal funding goes to keeping rural PBS and NPR stations running.

The rural-urban divide in public broadcasting: "Rural stations don't have a donor base," according to Harrison, and it already costs more to broadcast in rural areas, partly due to infrastructure upkeep.

Why it matters: Rural communities are the most at risk of losing public programming, and 62% of rural Americans voted for Trump. 70% of Americans oppose eliminating the CPB, according to a Quinnipiac poll.

Perspective: CPB gets about $500 million in federal funding annually. That's half of what Trump has requested this year to start the wall. Elmo should be safe, though, as Sesame Street has other funding sources.


Lawmakers call for U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan


Reps. Walter Jones and John Garamendi have introduced a resolution calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Jones pointed out that the "last debate we had on Afghanistan was in 2001" and "16 years later we've had no debate" on George W. Bush's AUMF.

But…CENTCOM commander Army General Joseph Votel and Army General John Nicholson told Congress the mission would need additional forces to be effective. There are currently about 8400 troops in Afghanistan.

Russian military expansion: When asked about Russia's recent moves into Afghanistan to give supplies to the Taliban, Jones brushed it off: "Let the Russians have it."

Support from the Trump Admin: On the campaign trail, Trump signaled he would be supportive of a new declaration of war. Plus, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wrote in 2015 that a declaration of war with support from "a majority in both parties in both houses of Congress, will send an essential message of American steadfastness to our people and to the global audience."


Bloomberg terminal users fall for 2nd time ever

Scott Beale via Flickr CC

Last year the number of Bloomberg's terminals fell by 3145 to just under 324,500, according to Burton-Taylor International, a consulting group that is one of the leading sources of information in the industry, per FT. The distinctive terminals, which bankers, traders, and money managers use daily to access real-time market information, have been cut because:

  1. Banks are trying to cut costs — each terminal costs about $22,000 a year — and revenues at 12 of the biggest global investment banks dropped 3% last year
  2. Machines are replacing traders, making it difficult to maintain terminal numbers, according to one of Burton-Taylor's founders, Douglas Taylor

Why it matters: This is the second time ever that the number of terminals has fallen for Bloomberg since it was founded in 1981. Keep in mind, the first time was during the global financial crisis.


Trump could intervene in fight over Pentagon tech contract

Cliff Owen / AP

A court blocked Palantir, a software company, from bidding last year on an Army data analytics program that is currently overpriced and underperforming. Palantir said it could supply a system (at around $100 million/yr) that would give soldiers information about weather, terrain, and likely locations for ambushes and roadside bombs. Palantir is appealing the ruling.

Given Trump's track record of vying with Boeing and Lockheed Martin for cheaper contracts, he could swoop in and change the game in order to cut costs, according to Fortune.

The claims from Palantir's case imply the government's terms for bids excluded Palantir from the start:

The Army has, "a failed procurement approach that is unlawful, that bene­fits no one but the incumbent defense contracting industry, that irrationally resists innovation from Silicon Valley, that wastes billions in taxpayer dollars, and that even risks the lives and effectiveness of our Soldiers in uniform" and has "an attitude that effectively tells units in the field, 'Don't let your war get in the way of our program.'"

Rebuttal from an Army official who used to head up procurement: "These people came in and said, 'We have our own business model and we're going to fight to the death for it.'"

It's about the establishment, too: Instead of Palantir's the Army chose a system — that often sits unplugged and unused because it's so archaic — from a team of establishment beltway defense contractors. As Congressman Duncan Hunter put it, "The full of fiefdoms, where they all protect their people and their programs. Palantir had no chance." That dynamic could play to Trump's anti-establishment style.

The Palantir-Trump Admin connection: Peter Thiel, one of Palantir's co-founders, is a Trump ally. Plus, Mike Flynn, H.R. McMaster, and Jim Mattis have been vocal supporters of Palantir's technology.


Trump wants $1 billion for first 62 miles of border wall

The Brownsville Herald via AP

The Trump Administration is requesting $1 billion this year to cover 62 miles of the border wall, according to DHS documents obtained by CNN.

The documents detail specific locations where current fencing requires upgrades, and stretches near San Diego and in the Rio Grande Valley where the wall is to be built.

Do the math: Estimates of the total wall cost have varied widely, but 62 miles is about 1/32 of the total US/Mexico land border.


Take Two: Paul Ryan to present new health care plan Thursday

Evan Vucci / AP

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan told Republican donors Monday he would brief them at a retreat scheduled for Thursday and Friday in Florida about how he will push forward on a healthcare overhaul, according to The Washington Post.

"When we're in Florida, I will lay out the path forward on health care and all the rest of the agenda. I will explain how it all still works, and how we're still moving forward on health care with other ideas and plans... know this: we are not giving up."

No details are available on the new plan yet but Ryan met with Trump at the White House today and separately with VP Mike Pence, HHS Secretary Tom Price, and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.


Russian bank confirms Kushner meeting

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

The Russian state bank Vnesheconombank confirmed to the AP that its chair met with Jared Kushner, Trump's senior advisor and son-in-law. The bank said the meeting was part of "road show" discussions with representatives of financial institutions throughout the world, and they discussed strategies for development banks.

The White House said Kushner was just doing his job by holding this meeting, but Obama sanctioned this bank in 2014 and contacts with Russia have other Trump associates in hot water.

What to watch: Kushner has agreed to discuss his Russia contacts with the Senate Intelligence Committee.


Dick Cheney: Russian cyber hack could be "an act of war"

Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP and Lwp Kommunikáció via Flickr CC

Former U.S. VP Dick Cheney highlighted American security concerns at the Economic Times Global Business Summit today, and touched on Russian interference in the U.S. presidential elections last year, according to the Economic Times. His perspective on Putin's cyber hacking and NATO is particularly of note:

He has found a way to undermine NATO...There are some serious effort made by Putin and his government to interfere in our election which can be considered as an act of war.

Why it matters: The crux of the issue in coming months will be determining whether it was an act of war, which ups the ante in terms of the ways countries can respond to being attacked, some of which can be all-out military responses.

Context: As we wrote earlier, there is a lot of disagreement about what constitutes an act of war when it comes to cyber hacking. This puts Russia at an advantage in cyber space, since countries and NATO don't know how to respond to attacks, and Cheney is affirming that belief.