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March 2, 2016
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The Pentagon announced Wednesday that it's putting its cybersecurity to the test by inviting thousands of vetted hackers to try to break into its government systems as part of its "Hack the Pentagon" initiative. The first such program ever developed by the federal government will be modeled after similar competitions known as "bug bounties" used by companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo to spot security problems or software flaws before they're discovered by malicious hackers.

Though the Pentagon has its own team of security experts testing out networks, it hopes the program will make hackers less hesitant to "disclose known vulnerabilities in systems out of a fear of reprisal" and that the addition of outside eyes will allow it to better spot security issues. Last year alone, the U.S. government faced cyberattacks from Russian hackers and hackers linked to the Chinese government.

While "bug bounties" often offer rewards ranging from $100,000 to $3 million, the Pentagon says it's still working out whether the competition will include monetary prizes. Details and rules are still being finalized, but Reuters reports participants must be U.S. citizens and that they will be submitted to a background check. Particularly sensitive networks will not be included in the competition. Becca Stanek

11:19 a.m. ET

Japan's first lady Akie Abe's silence at a recent G-20 summit dinner has left President Trump convinced that she can't speak English. In an interview with The New York Times published Wednesday night, Trump said he found Abe to be a "terrific woman," but noted the fact that she "doesn't speak English" made it "hard" to sit next to her at the dinner that lasted nearly two hours.

"Like, nothing, right? Like zero?" The New York Times' Maggie Haberman clarified. "Like, not 'hello,'" Trump said.

But this keynote address Abe gave in 2014 suggests not only can she say hello in English — she can deliver an entire speech:

Perhaps Abe just wanted to avoid nearly two hours of dinnertime conversation with Trump? Becca Stanek

10:58 a.m. ET
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Special Counsel Robert Mueller will investigate President Trump's business transactions as part of his probe into Russia's election interference, Bloomberg Politics reported Thursday, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Mueller is specifically interested in a few developments, Bloomberg said: "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump's involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump's sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008." The probe will also investigate deals involving the Bank of Cyprus, of which Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross previously served as vice chairman, and efforts undertaken by Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner to secure financing for certain real estate ventures.

Mueller's expanded probe reflects the investigation's absorption of an earlier probe by former Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Before being fired in March, Bharara was gathering information about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's financial dealings. "Altogether, the various financial examinations constitute one thread of Mueller's inquiry, which encompasses computer hacking and the dissemination of stolen campaign and voter information as well as the actions of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn," Bloomberg wrote.

In an interview with The New York Times on Wednesday, Trump said that any probing by Mueller into his or his family's finances would be a "violation." For more on Mueller's expanded probe, head to Bloomberg Politics. Kimberly Alters

10:53 a.m. ET

William Faulkner likely rolled over in his grave this morning. On Morning Joe, co-host Joe Scarborough compared President Trump's recent rambling responses to The New York Times to the writer's winding, stream-of-consciousness style. To be fair, Scarborough specifically likened Trump's comments to "William Faulkner on acid" — but still the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author can't be flattered.

In the interview, Trump said France's Bastille Day parade "was a super-duper — okay. I mean that was very more than normal"; claimed he thought the information on Hillary Clinton offered to his son by Russia "had something to do with the payment by Russia of the DNC ... Like, it was an illegal act done by the DNC"; and said this about North Korea: "You know, we have a big problem with North Korea. Big. Big, big. You look at all of the things, you look at the line in the sand. The red line in the sand in Syria. He didn't do the shot. I did the shot."

"I mean the sentences just keep going on," Scarborough said. "They're garbled and make absolutely no sense." Scarborough said he felt particularly sorry for Trump's attorneys, who have to deal with Trump's "brain dump."

Catch the Morning Joe segment below and read The New York Times interview here. Becca Stanek

10:50 a.m. ET
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True to her nickname, Julia "Hurricane" Hawkins, 101, set a new national record for the 100-meter dash last week as she stormed across the finish line at the USA Track and Field Outdoors Masters Championships. The Louisiana great-grandmother was the oldest female athlete to compete in the championships, held in Baton Rouge, and shaved six seconds off the current record for women ages 100 or older — clocking in at 40.12 seconds. The former schoolteacher, who swears by her healthy diet, only took up running after her 100th birthday — and was pretty nonchalant about her accomplishment. "I missed my nap for this," said Hawkins after her heroic sprint. Christina Colizza

10:35 a.m. ET
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A South Carolina woman has been reunited with her purse — 25 years after it first went missing near a lake. Local fishing enthusiast Brodie Brooks, 11, reeled in the waterlogged handbag during an afternoon at Lake Hartwell, near Anderson. In a stroke of luck, one of Brooks' relatives recognized the owner of the purse from an old ID and returned it to her. April Bolt, now 49, no longer needs the bright lipstick or hair-teasing comb that were also found inside — but was thrilled to have her now-adult son's baby photos back. "It's a serious time capsule," she says. "It meant the world to me." Christina Colizza

9:57 a.m. ET
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It's official: Ryan Seacrest is returning to host the American Idol revival. More than two months after ABC announced that it was bringing the singing competition back to the airwaves, Kelly Ripa finally confirmed Thursday on Live! With Kelly and Ryan that the show's longtime host will be coming back, too.

Seacrest hosted American Idol since its start in 2002, and he said it's "an honor, if not a bit surreal" to be returning to host Idol just a year after Fox canceled it last April following a 15-season run. "Very exciting," Seacrest said. "First of all, I don't know if you've ever been in a 15-year relationship and for a reason you really don't know you break up … I thought, 'Gosh, it'd be great to get back together at some point.'"

ABC, which announced in May it would be reviving the beloved show, is equally excited. "We are thrilled to be ushering in this new era of American Idol with Ryan at the helm," said ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey. “So much of American Idol's overwhelming success can be attributed to Ryan."

In-person auditions for American Idol start Aug. 17 in Orlando, Florida. The new season is slated to debut in 2018. Becca Stanek

9:54 a.m. ET

Precisely six months ago, President Trump was administered the oath of office by Chief Justice John Roberts. "We will face challenges," Trump said in his inaugural address, "but we will get the job done."

The "job" in question had been outlined in part by Trump himself in late October, when he released his "Contract with the American Voter" that outlined his promises for the first 100 days of his administration. Ever ambitious, Trump promised to introduce and pass 10 bills by his 100th day, including a major tax relief plan; a law to fully fund his wall along the U.S.-Mexico border; and, of course, a plan to repeal ObamaCare and replace it with "something terrific."

Trump's 100th day in office was April 29 — and by then, he'd accomplished almost none of his stated goals. But as the deadline loomed, the president was quick to dismiss the 100-day mark as a "ridiculous standard."

In fairness, even former President John F. Kennedy made sure to disavow the arbitrary date in his inaugural address in 1961. After all, 100 days isn't even a round measure of time! What else in life is measured by what you accomplish in 14.285 weeks, or 3.333 months? So let's give Trump a break. Let's look at what he's done in, say, six months' time, given Thursday marks his six-month anniversary in office.

There: half a year, nice round number, and total Republican control of Capitol Hill that whole time to boot. So, now how's it going?

Oh. Kimberly Alters

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