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Today's Smart Brevity count: 840 words, a 3-minute read.
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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Americans are at each other's throats. Politically, socially and culturally, we suspect each other's motives and plain sanity. So certain are we of the other's intent to do the nation harm, some of us have joined political gangs and assaulted one another, resulting in at least 1 death.
The big picture: Espionage and trickery between the West and Russia is not new — it goes back to Peter the Great, 3 centuries ago. But scholars say they are pressed to identify any episode of direct political mischief-making in this long history comparable to the breadth, scale and intensity of the Russian hacking, leaking and social media campaign in the 2016 U.S. election.
Russia hands in Washington and elsewhere are worried. No one can say with absolute certainty that Putin will attack this time, nor if he does, what means he will use. But what no one disputes is that the country — despite mountains of descriptions of Russia's actions last time — is little-better prepared now to defend itself than it was 3 years ago.
Some possibilities of what's next:
The bottom line: "I see no reason to expect that U.S./Western actions since 2016 have changed Moscow’s appetite for risk. Buckle up," said Andrew Weiss, a Russia expert at the Carnegie Endowment.
Miami after Hurricane Irma, September 2017. Photo: Matt McClain/Washington Post/Getty
When climatologists warn of the dangers of rising sea levels, they often cite a vulnerable point — Miami, for instance, or Vanuatu. But what's the bigger picture for the approximately 150 countries with a coastline?
These folks have a lot of property:
Toronto. Photo: Dinendra Haria/SOPA/LightRocket/Getty
Tens of thousands of retired Americans are collecting their Social Security checks in foreign countries where they are living. The locale of choice: Canada, writes MarketWatch's Catey Hill.
Citing government data, Hill reports that 69,942 Americans are collecting their checks in Canada. Rounding out the top 5:
U.S. at night. Photo: NASA/Getty
Edwin. Photo: Elsa/Getty
A stuffed parrot named Edwin has been credited for a lucky streak by the New York Yankees. It belongs to Gio Urshela, a third baseman who himself is on a hitting streak.
The 12-inch-tall toy, bought on Amazon for around $12, has served as team mascot and good luck charm since Urshela bought it last month, writes the NYT's James Wagner.
Edwin even has his own seat on the team plane. “I take him with me everywhere,” Urshela told Wagner.
By the numbers: As of Aug. 14, Wagner writes, "the Yankees were 65-35 (a .650 winning percentage) before parrot Edwin arrived and have gone 16-6 (.727) with him in tow." As for Urshela, he's hit 18 home runs so far this season, compared with 8 in all in his prior 3 seasons.
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